Image: Stock

UK Energy and Climate Change Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan has announced that from 1 October 2024 Great Britain will no longer use coal to generate electricity, a year earlier than planned.

The move is part of the UK government’s commitments to transition away from fossil fuels and decarbonise the power sector and confirms the intention set out by Prime Minister Borris Johnson last year to bring forward the deadline to end unabated coal-fired electricity generation.

Have you read?
Rapid coal retirement means massive benefits for Germany
India faces stranded coal assets as financing dries up

The bold move is driven by the fact that UK is hosting the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) summit in Glasgow this November. By eliminating the use of coal in electricity generation, the UK can make sure it plays a critical role in limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees – a key aim of its COP26 presidency.

The UK has made huge progress in reducing the use of coal across the power sector, with coal accounting for only 1.8% of the UK’s electricity mix in 2020. The government will introduce new legislation at the earliest opportunity to ensure the phase-out is brought forward.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan. Image: Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Energy and Climate Change Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “Coal powered the industrial revolution 200 years ago, but now is the time for radical action to completely eliminate this dirty fuel from our energy system.

“Today we’re sending a clear signal around the world that the UK is leading the way in consigning coal power to the history books and that we’re serious about decarbonising our power system so we can meet our ambitious, world-leading climate targets.”

According to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the UK went 5,000 hours without coal-fired electricity in 2020, and earlier this year broke a new wind power record. The rise in use of renewables thanks to competition, free enterprise and government incentives has made clean energy more cost-competitive, making coal the more expensive option to maintain.

Through its COP26 presidency, the UK government is urging nations to follow its example and abandon coal power for good. COP26 President-Designate, Alok Sharma, said: “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.”

The UK government is asking governments to set coal phase-out dates and end overseas coal investments, and has set up the Energy Transition Council to bring together partners to ensure that clean power is the most attractive option for developing countries and to support just transitions.