GB Coal
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GB coal

The UK Government is committed to phasing out all unabated generation from coal before 2025.

The elimination of generation of electricity from coal is one of the most significant steps towards net zero.

What coal power stations does GB have?

In early 2021 GB still had 3 coal-fired power stations.

One of these - Drax - had already stopped commercial generation as such and was only maintaining coal capacity until September 2022 to fulfil Capacity Market commitments.

The facility at West Burton had also announced its intention to stop using coal in September 2022.

The last coal-fired power station (at Ratcliffe-on-Soar) was due to be shut down in 2025.

GB was importing the relatively small quantities of coal it needed from Colombia, Russia and the USA.

GB is still burning coal to generate electricity

For the last few years the National Grid ESO 5 year forecast for generation of electricity for the grid has been 0, but this has just not happened. Each year a few TWh are produced using coal.

Although there are periods when coal is not used on the grid, for most of the year coal is still burnt to ensure supply meets demand, notably to cover the intermittency of wind.

In fact there are often periods of time when coal is producing more energy than all onshore and offshore wind combined in Great Britain.

Despite the 2025 deadline, the continuing need for coal means that the UK Government has decided to secure coal power capacity with two important agreements.

1. National Grid ESO contracts with Drax and EDF to extend the life of coal fired power plants this winter.

Total capacity of 1940MW will be available from the following coal units:

  • 2 x 400MW units at West Burton A
  • 2 x 570MW units at Drax

You can read more details here.

2. Uniper signs deal with UK’s National Grid to extend life of coal unit.

One of four units at the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in central England was due to shut permanently this month, but will now be available during the coming winter and possibly beyond.

The capacity of Ratcliffe-on-Soar is 2116MW.

You can read more details here.

3. Coal power plant 'to close as planned' despite winter standby request

Despite UK Government requests to keep the two remaining units at West Burton A coal-fired power station in Nottinghamshire running, they will now close as planned on March 31 2023.

You can read more details here.