Britain will shut down all its coal-fired power stations by 2023, under plans being drawn up by ministers before a United Nations climate change conference in Paris next month.
The proposals to set a firm date for the country’s last coal-fired station to cease generating electricity are being discussed by officials at the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
It is understood that Amber Rudd, the energy secretary, could announce the plan before the conference begins on November 30.
Under the proposals, Britain’s ten coal-fired power stations, the biggest supplier of electricity for decades, would be forced to convert to alternative fuels such as woodchips, to fit carbon capture and storage equipment — or shut.
Three coal stations — Longannet, in Fife, Eggborough, in North Yorkshire, and Ferrybridge, in West Yorkshire — have confirmed that they plan to shut next March after the introduction of strict new European emissions rules in January and a carbon price floor tax introduced in 2013.
Coal, the most polluting fossil fuel in terms of carbon emissions, generated about 30 per cent of electricity in the UK last year, more than nuclear and all renewables, according to Energy UK, the trade association.
It remains a reliable source of base load, the minimum level of demand, particularly on cold, windless winter days when demand is high but supplies of renewable electricity from wind and solar are low. […]
The plan to shut the last coal-fired stations is likely to add to fears that new renewables, such as wind, gas and nuclear , will not come on to the system quickly enough to replace the lost coal-fired generation capacity.