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CLIMATE ACTION PROGRAMME

4 January 2017

UK to phase out coal ahead of 2025

The United Kingdom is scaling up its use of low-carbon energy sources as it plans to phase out coal-fired power plants altogether by 2025.

According to the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), between the months of July and September last year, 50 per cent of the country’s electricity was produced primarily by wind and solar farms, as well as wood and nuclear power plants.

Scotland's last coal power plant closed in spring 2016, and two of the largest coal plants in England were also decommissioned.

As a result, the proportion of electricity generated by coal fell from 16.7 per cent in the third quarter of 2015, to just 3.6 per cent over the same period in 2016.

Scotland, which has demonstrated a strong commitment to renewable energy, now produces 77 per cent of its electricity from low-carbon sources.

The UK government pledged last year that coal would be phased out by 2025 In November, they announced that the last coal plant could close as early as 2022 without government intervention, due to rising costs related to compliance with emissions standards.

Studies have shown, however, that if the price of coal remains low, plants could remain open until 2030.

Consequently, the UK government plans to enact a series of emissions standards for coal plants as well as incentives for the use of renewable energy sources in order to meet its 2025 target for the phase out of coal.

Officials consider it "unlikely" that emissions-reducing technology for power plants—such as systems that capture and store carbon—will prove practical, and plants will have to stop using coal in order to meet the new emissions standards. 

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