Environmental group WWF has criticised the National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios report because it “underestimates threat of coal”.
The organisation states that the report assumes that most of the UK’s old and inefficient coal power stations will close down by 2023, instead of choosing to extend their lives by complying with new regulation to reduce their air pollution.
WWF explains it is concerned that “large windfall payments” given to coal power plants, through the capacity market, will mean that more plants will choose to extend their lives beyond the mid-2020s. As a result, the National Grid’s scenarios around falling emissions and coal generation could be wrong.
Jenny Banks, energy and climate change specialist at WWF UK, said, “Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel on the planet and in the UK was responsible for over two thirds of power sector carbon emissions last year. In addition, climate implications, air pollution from burning coal is harmful to human health and causes an estimated 1,600 deaths in the UK each year.”
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The National Grid’s report presented four scenarios, each providing a different vision of the UK’s future. The scenarios ranged from ‘Gone Green’, which sees a strong economy and political commitment to tough environmental regulations, to ‘No Progression’, which warns that inconsistent policies could stifle energy investment and technological innovation.
Banks added, “If you want to cut carbon emissions and improve air pollution shutting the UK’s decrepit old coal plants is an absolute no brainer.
“Yet instead our government is doing the opposite by introducing a policy which will literally pay these coal plants hundreds of millions of pounds to keep polluting, leaving their climate change credentials in tatters.”
She continued that instead the government should use policy to support low carbon solutions to maintain security of supply.
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