You couldn’t make it up … Britain was forced today to turn to coal power as the amount of electricity coming from wind farms fell dramatically. Having to resort to coal to keep the lights on is a rather humiliating development for Boris Johnson in the run-up to COP26.
Policy makers around the world are, of course watching and will take away from their encounter with Britain’s Net Zero experience that they would be foolish to make the same mistake and burden their citizens and businesses with astronomical costs — only to find out that they risk plunging their nations into darkness.
The UK has turned to a coal-fired power station to help boost its energy supply after global gas and power prices hit new highs and wind farms produced very low levels of electricity.
National Grid ESO, which balances Britain’s electricity supply and demand, asked EDF to fire up two units at its West Burton A power station in Lincolnshire. They had previously been on standby.
The Government plans to phase-out coal-fired power by 2024 in an effort to slash carbon emissions. Most coal-fired power stations have closed, but some remain available to help meet demand – particularly in emergencies.
Wind power now generates about 20pc of UK electricity across the year but varies hugely day by day. On Monday morning, output fell to 474 megawatts compared to a record 14,286 megawatts on May 21, Bloomberg said.
At 11am on Monday morning, coal was providing 3.9pc of Britain’s power mix; 47pc from gas; 1.9pc from wind; and 11.4pc from solar panels.
It comes as gas, which produces more than 35pc of UK electricity across the year, trades at more than three times normal rates amid a global supply crunch.