The UK government is to close coal-fired power plants not equipped with carbon capture and storage technology by October 2025, according to a statement by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
The new emissions limits will apply to power generation plants that burn solid fossil fuels and have over 300 MW capacity.
BEIS also said that it would set an emission intensity limit of 450g of CO2 for each kilowatt hour of power generated to make sure polluting plants are shut down.
The new plan allows biomass power plants to continue operations using some coal but under the emissions limit.
As a result of the plan, it is expected that 6 GW of coal-fired power capacity currently in use will fall to 1.5GW by 2025. The shortfall, however, will be addressed through other lower-carbon forms of generation.
BEIS said: “Our assessment is that the Capacity Market will ensure that there is sufficient capacity in place to replace unabated coal units when they close.”
The department added that it is now mulling an appropriate legislative vehicle for the introduction of the emissions intensity limit from 1 October 2025.
Ministers will also retain emergency powers to suspend the phase-out in the case of an emergency shortfall in electricity supplies.
“We consider it prudent for the secretary of state to retain provisions to act in emergency situations, as a last resort, where there might be a shortfall in electricity generation, or risk of one, and that suspension would wholly or partially mitigate that risk,” the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said.
But officials said it was unlikely those powers would be called on, because the gap created by the coal plants’ closure would probably be filled by old gas power stations staying open longer.
While no coal power stations closed in 2017, the government’s official assessment points out that a carbon tax and relatively low gas prices have hurt the profitability of coal plants.