Coal-fired power producer, Drax, and French energy group, EDF, have qualified for a UK scheme to reward power companies for keeping plants on standby, officials announced on Friday.
The UK’s Centrica is also among the companies that have won approval to take part in Britain’s first electricity capacity auction, to be held in December.
The auction is one of several so-called capacity mechanisms that countries across the EU plan to avoid supply crunches and provide back-up on grids with growing proportions of intermittent electricity supplied by wind farms and other renewable generators.
But Greenpeace, the environmental campaign group, criticised the capacity payments as likely to be used to extend the life of coal plants, whose greenhouse gas emissions are a leading driver of climate change.
“These handouts look very much like the ‘perverse fossil fuel subsidies’ lambasted by David Cameron at the UN climate summit in New York last week,” said Lawrence Carter, Greenpeace UK energy campaigner. “No wonder they waited until 6pm on a Friday to bury the bad news.”