UK to shut down coal-fired power plants by 2025

The sun rises behind Fiddlers Ferry coal-fired power station near Liverpool, northern England, on Dec. 15, 2008. The UK will shut down coal-fired power plants by 2025, according to UK officials. Photo by Phil Noble/Reuters

The UK plans to shut down all its coal-fired power plants by 2025 and replace the energy source largely with natural gas, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd announced Wednesday.

"It cannot be satisfactory for an advanced economy like the UK to be relying on polluting, carbon intensive 50-year-old coal-fired power stations," Rudd said.

The proposal called to "restrict" the use of coal-fired power plants by 2023 and eliminate them by 2025. The government will present the plan in more detail next spring.

Rudd said one of the most cost-effective ways the UK can make up for the loss of energy production while reducing its carbon emissions is to shift to natural gas, which produces about half as much carbon dioxide as coal.

Friends of the Earth, an international network of environmental groups, called the UK's announcement "historic" but also criticized the government over its idea that natural gas is a viable alternative.

"UK energy policy should overwhelmingly be focussed [sic] on boosting renewable power and energy efficiency," the organization said in a statement. "Gas is too high-carbon for a long-term future."

Reuters reports the country's last deep coal mine is expected to close next month, citing a significant drop in coal prices.

Coal currently accounts for about 20 percent of the electricity generated in the UK. Natural gas makes up 30 percent and renewables produce 25 percent.
The UK's announcement comes just prior to the United Nations Climate Summit in Paris, which will take place from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

The UK has already committed to reduce its carbon emissions 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.

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