UK Leaves Door Open for Coal Power in Bid to Keep Lights On

  • In Business
  • 2022-07-06 17:53:57Z
  • By Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- The UK is set to water down one of its key climate change policies as it battles soaring energy prices that have contributed to a cost-of-living crisis for millions of consumers.

Most Read from Bloomberg

  • Natural Gas Soars 700%, Becoming Driving Force in the New Cold War

  • Citi Says Oil May Collapse to $65 by the Year-End on Recession

  • Oil Plummets Below $100 as Recession Risks Come to Forefront

  • US Wants Dutch Supplier to Stop Selling Chipmaking Gear to China

  • American Factories Are Making Stuff Again as CEOs Take Production Out of China

The government last year pledged to close all of Britain's unabated coal-fired power plants by October 2024 -- and said it would enshrine that in law as soon as possible. But there's no mention of the date in an energy bill published Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said the government remains committed to the 2024 target, despite it not appearing in Wednesday's bill.

The UK, which hosted international climate talks last year, is grappling with a once-in-a-generation energy crunch, caused in part by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Soaring natural gas prices have led to a revival in coal -- the dirtiest fossil fuel -- as energy companies look for cheaper alternatives.

On Wednesday, Drax Group Plc said it will keep its last two coal units active past a shutdown scheduled for September, at the request of Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.

The government had previously planned to close all unabated coal-fired plants -- those without a mechanism to curb emissions -- by 2025. Last year, in the run-up to the COP26 talks, it brought forward the closure date by a year, with the aim of legislating "at the earliest opportunity."

The move was designed to prove the UK was showing leadership on climate, as it tried to convince other countries to "consign coal to history." At the time of the announcement, the government also confirmed that the Secretary of State wouldn't be given powers to suspend or modify the arrangements.

The full energy bill is designed to marry the twin goals of boosting energy security while tackling climate change. The government is seeking net-zero emissions by 2050.

The legislation includes plans to extend a price cap beyond 2023 to help protect consumers from rising costs, as well as measures to nationalize part of National Grid Plc's business in the form of a Future System Operator. The bill also seeks to encourage more people to replace gas boilers with heat pumps.

Under growing pressure to keep the lights on, Kwarteng previously agreed to extend operations for at least one coal power plant that would have otherwise closed this year. Electricite de France SA signed a deal to keep a unit of its West Burton A coal plant on standby in case it's needed this winter.

Kwarteng met with the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chief Whip Chris Heaton-Harris earlier this week to discuss the energy security bill, according to two people familiar with the matter. Another person, who had recently been on calls where the coal-plant closure date had been discussed, said the policy is to only run coal plants for longer in an emergency.

Last week, the government's climate change watchdog said it wasn't concerned by the government's plan to extend the life of some plants, as long as it was a temporary measure.

(Updates with publication of bill in second paragraph.)

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

  • The Lottery Lawyer Won Their Trust, Then Lost Their Mega Millions

  • Google Is Going to Let Politicians Spam Your Inbox

  • Geely Is Launching Satellites in a Bid to Bring Driverless Cars to China

  • Gangs Are Fake-Killing People in India for Insurance Payouts

  • Did Razzlekhan and Dutch Pull Off History's Biggest Crypto Heist?

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.


More Related News

TikTok Reinforces its Ban of Paid Political Influencer Videos
TikTok Reinforces its Ban of Paid Political Influencer Videos

(Bloomberg) -- TikTok is reinforcing its ban on influencers on posting paid political content, one of the steps the social network is taking to shore up its ...

Saudi Arabia Hones Search for CEO to Run Second National Airline
Saudi Arabia Hones Search for CEO to Run Second National Airline

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia's bid recruit a chief executive officer for a new national airline has become drawn out amid confusion over the carrier's...

Cisco Gives Upbeat Outlook as Chip Supply Shortages Ease
Cisco Gives Upbeat Outlook as Chip Supply Shortages Ease

(Bloomberg) -- Cisco Systems Inc., the biggest maker of machines that run the internet and corporate computer networks, gave a bullish forecast for the...

UK Blocks Takeover of Electronic-Design Firm on Chinese Security Fears
UK Blocks Takeover of Electronic-Design Firm on Chinese Security Fears

(Bloomberg) -- The UK government blocked the takeover of an electronic design company by a Hong Kong-based firm, the latest example of Britain's increasing...

Meme-Stock Resurgence Piles Up the Losses for Short-Sellers
Meme-Stock Resurgence Piles Up the Losses for Short-Sellers

(Bloomberg) -- Investors betting against the most well-known meme stocks have lost about $1.65 billion this month after the shares soared in value, prompting...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: Business