Coal phase-out target should be brought forward argues think tank

The UK Government should bring forward its target of phasing out coal-fired power stations from 2025 to at least 2023, according to a think tank.

The Bright Blue liberal conservative group commissioned Aurora Energy Research to look at whether phasing out coal earlier than currently planned would affect the UK’s energy security.

Aurora concluded that coal could be removed from the energy mix without affecting security of supply because there will still be time to commissioned replacement gas-fired power stations.

The research was carried out using stress tests under three scenarios, from “high stress” to “low stress”.

Policy recommendations

Based on the report, Bright Blue has made a series of policy recommendations, including that the UK Government should:

  • introduce an emissions performance standard to phase out coal and bring forward the deadline from 2025 to at least 2023;
  • encourage renewables and interconnection, as well as storage, demand side response (DSR) and energy efficiency to ensure a “low stress” scenario;
  • use renewables as a “Plan B” to fill the gap if the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station isn’t built;
  • and promote the international phasing out of coal.

Exaggerated claims

Ben Caldecott, an Associate Fellow at Bright Blue and the author of the report, said: “Despite what some exaggerated claims suggest, coal phase out even under a ‘high stress’ scenario, will not result in the lights going out.

“Our analysis shows the significant benefits for pollution and system security of further encouraging renewables, interconnection, storage, DSR and energy efficiency.”

Former Energy Minister Lord Greg Barker, now an advisory board member of Bright Blue’s Green Conservatism project, added: “The Government should heed the recommendations, give investors even greater certainty and with that, put UK plc firmly at the forefront of the global drive for clean and smart energy technologies.”

> Download the report