News World

UK keeps coal fired up despite climate goals

US to invest $1.2 bn in plants to pull carbon from air
Source: Pixabay

The operator of Britain‘s electricity grid said Thursday it intends to keep at least one coal-fired power station in operation this winter, despite working to phase out the fossil fuel.

The government plans to eliminate coal in the UK’s power mix by the end of 2024, ahead of its target of achieving “net zero” on carbon emissions by 2050.

But supply shocks linked to Russia’s war in Ukraine have forced the retention of older fuels for the time being, and this week operators started burning coal for the first time in six weeks.

“We expect one of the five (coal) units to be commercially available in the market,” the National Grid’s Electricity System Operator said in a report previewing winter demand.

But it added that fossil power plants, wind farms and other generation methods were expected to provide more than enough power to meet demand, after fears of blackouts last winter.

German energy company Uniper confirmed to AFP that at the government’s request, it had extended the lifespan of a coal unit at its station in Ratcliffe-on-Soar, near Nottingham, central England, beyond its scheduled closure.

However, UK-based company Drax ruled out reversing the decommissioning of its own coal-fired stations to accommodate any shortfalls in British supply.

UK energy supplies have also been under strain due to an early summer heatwave driving up demand for air conditioning, with a deficiency from turbine power caused by weak offshore winds forcing a return to coal.

“It is a sign of failure that the National Grid is turning to one of the most polluting forms of power generation to deal with a summer heatwave that we know has been made worse because of climate change,” Greenpeace campaigner Ami McCarthy said.


About the author


Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

Daily Newsletter