Fossil Fuel Phase-Out Won’t Affect Energy Supply

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A “stress test” on the security of the UK’s energy supply has been carried out after concerns were raised over a planned phase-out of coal by 2025. Bright Blue commissioned Aurora Energy Research to complete the test and found that Britain’s energy supply will be left unharmed if the Government go ahead with their plan. The research shows that UK Government could now implement the phase-out earlier than originally planned with no risk to energy supply.

Bright Blue finds that, under each scenario, phasing out coal does not undermine the security of the UK’s energy supply and there is plenty of time under each scenario to commission any required new gas capacity.

Former Energy and Climate Change Minister and advisory board member of Bright Blue’s Green conservatism project, Lord Gregory Barker, said: “This is a well-researched and timely report. Thanks to a Conservative government, the UK is now committed to taking dirty, polluting coal out of our energy mix completely. So we should take maximum advantage of this bold move. 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.”

Author of the report and associate fellow of Bright Blue, Ben Caldecott, said: “Committing to the phase out of UK coal-fired power stations is a radical and ambitious conservative approach to dealing with climate change and air pollution. It has been welcomed with widespread acclaim in the UK and internationally.”

“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, demand-side response and energy efficiency.”

Bright Blue make a number of policy recommendations to ensure the success of the phase-out of UK coal.

  • The Government should proceed with its coal phase-out plans, implementing an emissions performance standard to straightforwardly regulate coal off the system. We believe that the 2025 target should be brought forward to at least 2023 to give investors greater certainty, particularly those planning new gas capacity.
  • Since there are significant benefits of encouraging the ‘low stress’ scenario to materialise, the Government must encourage renewables and interconnection, as well as storage, demand side response (DSR) and energy efficiency.
  • The future of Hinkley Point C nuclear power station appears to be highly uncertain. ‘Plan B’ should be for renewables to fill the capacity gap in the late 2020s. Renewables can plug significant gaps in capacity very quickly – much more quickly than long lead time and significantly delayed new nuclear.
  • The UK should take the lead in promoting coal phase-out internationally. Globally coal needs to be dismantled to tackle climate change and the UK has significant technical and moral leadership it can deploy to encourage other countries to agree to a coordinated phased approach for closing down coal-fired power stations.