UK Coal-fired electricity ban brought forward

In a move designed to highlight the UK’s leadership to go further in driving down emissions and tackling climate change, the Government has announced the deadline to phase out coal-fired electricity has been brought forward by a year.

From 1 October 2024, Great Britain will no longer use coal to generate electricity and is part of ambitious government commitments to transition away from fossil fuels and decarbonise the power sector in order to eliminate contributions to climate change by 2050.

The UK has already 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, compared with 40% almost decade ago.

Making the announcement, 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. 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. The UK’s net zero future will be powered by renewables, and it is this technology that will drive the green industrial revolution and create new jobs across the country.”

Coal is one of the most carbon intensive fossil fuels and responsible for harmful air pollution. By eliminating its use 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 – and has called on all nations to follow its lead and to accelerate the phase out of coal power.

COP26 President-Designate Alok Sharma commented: “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.

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.”

In welcoming the news, Matt Osborne, Head of Risk and Renewables at BiU, commented “The announcement today from BEIS cements the UK’s drive to be powered by green energy as soon as possible, and reach our net zero greenhouse gas emissions. The news didn’t come as a great surprise, as only around 2-3% of power generation in the UK on average is from coal. And with carbon at current levels it’s just so expensive to run these plants. The move is not just logical in terms of operational costs, but beneficial for the environment.”