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UK coal-burning power plant to stay open two years longer than planned | Coal


A Nottinghamshire coal-burning power plant will stay open for two years beyond its planned closure date after a call from ministers prompted by the UK’s energy crisis.

Ratcliffe-on-Soar had initially been pencilled in to shut in 2022, but last year said it would have an initial extension until 31 March 2023.

The planned closure forms part of the government’s attempt to remove coal from Britain’s energy generation to cut carbon emissions.

Coal-fired plants provided more than 40% of Britain’s electricity a decade ago, but that figure had fallen to 1.5% by last year. Ministers have set a goal for Britain to stop using coal altogether.

However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 led to countries boycotting Russian gas. Emergency contracts were drawn up between energy suppliers and National Grid to keep stations open as back-up options.

So far none of the coal-fire powered stations asked to stay online this winter as a precaution have been asked to supply power, the Daily Telegraph reports.

One of the four units at Ratcliffe-on-Soar was due to shut in September 2022, but it will now close in line with three other units at the station in September 2024.

The power station and its distinctive eight concrete cooling towers can be seen next to the Midland mainline railway line between London and Leeds.

The news comes as Britain generated a record amount of electricity from wind turbines on Tuesday. National Grid data showed that 21.6GW of electricity was supplied by wind early in the evening, about 50% of the power needed across Britain at 6pm and 6.30pm.

This is a time of day where demand is traditionally high, as people return from work or start to prepare evening meals.

It is the second time in two weeks that the wind record has been broken in Britain, after a previous best was set on 30 December.

The German energy giant Uniper, which owns the Nottinghamshire plant, said: “As requested by the government, Uniper is now looking at whether we can make the unit available to run under standard market arrangements until the September 2024 coal phase-out date.

“We have prequalified the unit to take part in the capacity market T-1 auction for 2023/24 [an auction for back-up power]. This means further investment to extend the life of the unit. The power station is set to close at the end of September 2024.”

A government spokesman said: “The UK has a secure and diverse energy system, and we remain confident in our security of supply.

“Working closely with Ofgem, National Grid Gas and other key industry organisations, we continuously monitor our energy supply and ensure we are ready for a range of scenarios.

“In line with our net zero target, the government is planning to phase out unabated coal-fired power generation by the end of 2024.”



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