UK's end to coal power brought forward to 2024

2nd July 2021

Web coal istock 483123266 1

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Energy ,
  • Fossil fuels ,
  • UK government



The UK will no longer use unabated coal to generate electricity from October 2024, one year earlier than originally planned, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has announced.

Coal use has fallen drastically in recent years, accounting for 1.8% of the UK’s electricity mix in 2020, compared with 40% almost a decade ago.

The country went 5,000 hours without coal-fired electricity in 2020, and 43.1% of its electricity was instead generated from renewable sources over the course of the year.

The move to end the use of unabated coal – which is coal without any technologies to substantially reduce its CO2 emissions – only applies to electricity generation, and not for activities such as steel-making, which is planned at the controversial Cumbria coal mine.

Following the announcement, COP26 president-designate, Alok Sharma, urged other nations to follow the UK's example and abandon coal power for good.

“The next decade will be make, or break, for our planet and the most powerful way we can make a difference is to end our reliance on coal,” he said.

“Ahead of COP26, I hope the UK’s decisive step towards a cleaner, greener future sends a clear signal to friends around the world that clean power is the way forward.

“The impact of this step will be far greater if we can bring the world with us, and so our desire to support a clean and just energy transition is central to my discussions on the road to COP26.”

Coal is the single biggest contributor to anthropogenic climate change, and responsible for around 46% of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, along with 72% of total greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector.

For the first time ever, in March this year coal-fired power plants did not participate in the UK's four-year ahead capacity market auction, which secures the electricity needed to cope with peaks in demand in 2024 to 2025.

Going forward, coal power plants will not be able participate in any future capacity market auctions due to the introduction of emissions limits.

While welcoming the news that the UK will end the use of coal one year early, Friends of the Earth energy campaigner, Tony Bosworth, highlighted how coal power was “already fading into the history books”.

“Coal provided just 1.5% of UK electricity in the final quarter of 2020, the lowest level on record, and by the end of next year, there will be just one coal-fired power station still in operation,” he continued.

“But ministerial boasts about taking radical action to completely eliminate this dirty fuel ring hollow while this government is still sitting on the fence about a new coal mine in Cumbria.”

Image credit: iStock

Transform articles

Europe's largest firms set to miss net-zero targets

Almost one-third of Europe's largest companies have now set net-zero emissions targets, but far less are set to deliver on their ambitions.

7th October 2021

Read more

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has today unveiled the most significant changes to its reporting standards since 2016, setting a new benchmark for corporate sustainability.

5th October 2021

Read more

Seven of the UK's 17 key industry sectors are still increasing their emissions year-on-year, and most will miss their 2050 net-zero targets without significant government action, new research suggests.

23rd September 2021

Read more

In February 2019, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 322 on Sustainable Finance was formed.

23rd September 2021

Read more

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published a new 'Green Claims Code' to ensure businesses are not misleading consumers about their environmental credentials.

22nd September 2021

Read more

The UK government must develop regulation to stop the financial sector from providing billions of pounds to companies that threaten rainforests worldwide, WWF has said.

10th September 2021

Read more

Half of the world's 40 largest listed oil and gas companies will have to slash their production by at least 50% by the 2030s to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement, new analysis has found.

9th September 2021

Read more

Thames Water has been fined £4m after untreated sewage escaped from sewers below London into a park and a river.

30th July 2021

Read more

In June 2021, the UK’s governing Conservative Party lost a by-election in Chesham and Amersham, a seat it had held for 47 years. The principal reasons reported as the cause of this defeat were proposed planning reforms and the promotion of housebuilding on greenfield sites across the south of England.

30th July 2021

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert