UK demands coal plants to stay open longer to meet energy demand, what will happen to energy supply?

UK demands coal plants to stay open longer to meet energy demand, what will happen to energy supply?

The UK government has asked energy companies to slow down the closure process of coal plants.

With the ever still present war between Russia and Ukraine, concerns about insufficient gas supplies being exported from Russia are an emerging topic in Europe. The UK government´s response was that they would be postponing the closure of coal-fired plants that were meant to begin in autumn. The goal surrounding this delay is aimed at preventing Britain from becoming even more reliant on burning gas for electricity, with the uncertainty over Russian gas exportation.

Why is coal being phased out in energy production

It’s no secret that the UK has been trying to phase out the curation of energy from coal in the past few years in order to meet new pollution standards. The table below compares the emission in grams of co2/kwh. Clearly visible from the table, coal is the worst fuel type in terms of pollution. 

Fuel type

Emission(co2/kwh)

Coal

1000 g CO2

Natural Gas

450 g CO2

Solar

44 g CO2

Wind

11 g CO2

Nuclear

9 g CO2

The few remaining coal-fired plants in the UK serve as backup power generation, seeing as most of the UK has transitioned to getting their electricity from gas. However, with the current uncertainty surrounding the exportation of gas from Russia,  there has been some discussion of postponing the delay in coal-fired plants.

How will the coal phase out process look like now

French energy supplier EDF had started decommissioning their plant in 2021, maintaining only the necessary amount of resources to enable them to supply electricity during peak times. EDF and other coal-powered providers are now in discussion with the National Grid Electricity System Operator, a private company that ensures that the UK electricity supply meets demand. Uniper, one of Germany’s largest energy cooperations, has stated that the government asked it to explore the possibility of keeping its unit at Ratcliffe power station open, which was due to close in September 2022.

While the outcome is still unclear, the goal of the discussion is to receive subsidies from the National Grid Electricity System in order to be available on standby during peak energy spending seasons in order to ensure the UK doesn’t go through periods where they lack in energy supply.

What will this policy imply for UK customers? 

What does this mean for UK consumers? Having a backup energy power plan within the UK decreases their reliance on Russian energy. Thus, there won´t be an existential energy crisis in the UK that goes beyond the point of recovery. This will disable a significant gap in growth between the rich and the poor due to further class segregation caused by an unsustainable increase in energy prices. These backup coal-powered factories will also allow the UK to remain more independent from Russian gas exportation

However, the coal usage will have a stringent impact on the environment. As mentioned before, coal by far has the largest CO2 emission per kWh of energy. If you are concerned about the greenness of your energy under these new measures, you might want to checkout an overview here of the green suppliers to ensure that you are still getting green energy.

While this uncertainty surrounding energy has caused the discussion of delaying the closure of coal plants, the UK government has gone on record maintaining that it is still their plan to end the use of coal power by 2024.

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