Sustainable Energy

UK to close coal power stations by 2025

Anmar Frangoul | Special to
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The U.K. government has announced plans to shut all unabated coal-fired power stations by 2025 and to limit their use by 2023.

Unabated power stations have no carbon capture facility to allow carbon dioxide emissions to be buried.

"Energy security comes first and I am determined to ensure that the U.K. has secure, affordable, and clean energy supplies that hardworking families and businesses can rely on now and in the future," Amber Rudd, Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said in a statement on the department's website.

Rudd added that the government was "tackling a legacy" of underinvestment and ageing power stations that needed to be replaced with reliable alternatives that were cleaner and better value for money.

"It cannot be satisfactory for an advanced economy like the U.K. to be relying on polluting, carbon intensive 50-year-old coal-fired power stations," she said.

"Let me be clear: this is not the future. We need to build a new energy infrastructure, fit for the 21st century," she added.

In a speech at the Institution of Civil Engineers in London, Rudd added that, "One of the greatest and most cost-effective contributions we can make to emission reductions is replacing coal fired power stations with gas."

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Coal currently provides 28 percent of the U.K.'s electricity according to Energy U.K.

"As the country that used coal to start the industrial revolution, it is right that we celebrate this historic moment as the U.K. becomes the first major economy to turn away from this deadly, polluting source of energy," John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace U.K., said in a statement ahead of Rudd's speech.

"Now we must ensure that the government prioritizes renewable energy to power the U.K. in the future," he went on to add.

Friends of the Earth were less optimistic. "Amber Rudd is certainly taking U.K. energy policy in a new direction: unfortunately it's backwards to the 20th century," Simon Bullock, senior energy campaigner at the organisation, said in a release.

"Phasing out coal – if that's what's being suggested – is essential for the climate. But switching from coal to gas is like an alcoholic switching from two bottles of whisky a day to two bottles of port," Bullock added.

"The U.K. Government's ongoing addiction to fossil fuels sends a terrible signal to crucial Paris climate talks, starting in a fortnight," he said.