The UK government detailed plans Friday for its phase-out of coal power, which include closing down one of the eight remaining power plants this year, with most of the rest forecasted to close by 2022. Unless they employ carbon capture methods, the government announced Friday that any coal power stations still operating at that point would be forced by close in October 2025 by new pollution regulations, according to a report from Reuters.
The government said in 2015 that “unabated” coal power would be phased out by 2025, as part of the nation’s efforts to cut carbon emissions. The nation is legally obligated to cut emissions to 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2050.
On Friday, the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) elaborated on those plans, saying that new regulations would set an emissions limit of 450 grams of CO2 for each kilowatt hour generated.
Coal power has been in rapid decline in the UK, which implemented a tax on carbon emissions from the energy sector in 2013. Since then, the nation has set a number of renewable energy records, including boasting its first day with no coal power since the industrial revolution.
The UK is still reliant on coal power for about 6 gigawatts of energy, with the potential to provide energy to roughly 6 million homes. However, the government expects this figure to drop to just 1.5 gigawatts before the 2025 deadline.
Many UK nuclear plants are also set to close in the 2020s. Since last year, the government has put a capacity market into effect, which pays existing plants to generate extra power on short notice to fill in gaps in the rest of the system. Some have criticized this move for unnecessarily propping up the coal sector.
According to energy analyst John Marshall, of the UK thinktank Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit:
“While delivering on the top line of a 2025 closure, the government’s decision to allow coal plants to compete in the capacity market on equal footing until then looks like something of a missed opportunity.”
The government also has the power to suspend the phase-out in the case of a short-term power emergency. But they have stated this is not likely to become necessary, since older gas power plants will remain open longer to help compensate for the shuttering of coal plants.
Some campaigners have argued for a coal deadline to arrive before 2025, but the government rebuffed those suggested due to energy security and cost concerns.