By Peter LarkinPosted 14 April 2014 11:55:06A little more than a week ago, the UK government was considering whether to ban the use of coal-fired power in the country, despite assurances that it was not about to build new coal-burning power stations.
It has been almost a year since the government made the announcement and since then the Government has continued to make it a top priority.
As we reported at the time, the announcement came after the government published a report finding that the UK is no longer burning coal to power its power plants.
The Government had promised in 2012 that it would phase out coal-powered generation by 2025, and the report released last year found that the switch was on track to happen.
The UK’s power generation sector has been in a slump in recent years, with the UK Power Company, the country’s largest utility, reporting a net loss of nearly £1.7bn for the first quarter of this year.
A spokesperson for the Department of Energy and Climate Change told the BBC in December: “We have been very clear that we are going to phase out fossil fuel generation in 2020.”
The UK has already pledged to phase the coal-free generation scheme out by 2022, but that was only to the tune of £3bn.
“The UK government is committed to building a clean energy economy that works for everyone, and we are building on that commitment by committing to build an energy revolution that can build a clean economy in the UK by 2020,” the spokesperson said.
So why is the government still trying to push coal-based power stations onto the electricity grid?
A recent article by the BBC News website detailed how the UK has been pushing coal-generated power plants onto the power grid, even as a new study found that there was little chance of a return to coal-to-gas electricity generation by 2060.
This was because there was an increasing gap between demand and supply of coal and gas, and because there were a number of new coal plants being built around the world.
The report found that: “The UK needs to ramp up the investment in new coal generation in order to meet its energy needs.”
It also said that “the UK faces a shortfall of coal generation capacity in 2020, and is set to experience a net increase in coal generation over the next few years.”
This would require coal-generating capacity to double to more than 3GW by 2020, up from 2GW currently, and would need to triple to 3GW over the course of the next two decades, reaching 5GW by 2040.
“The article also pointed out that there were “serious questions about the ability of new investment in coal-generation capacity to meet the UK’s energy needs”, with some analysts claiming that it could even be “a self-defeating investment”.
However, it was a statement that has had a great deal of influence on the government, with a number ministers being quoted in the BBC article as saying that they were committed to coal.
It’s worth noting that the government is not the only one to have been pressing for coal-derived electricity generation.
A number of European countries are also pushing for coal power generation, and even some countries in Asia are also developing a “coal-driven” electricity generation strategy.
According to a report by the US-based Energy Information Administration (EIA), China is the world’s biggest coal producer, and as of 2014 it was producing more than 20 billion tons of coal a year.
However, the EIA also found that coal-related CO2 emissions in China were falling, and that in 2015 China had cut its coal-induced CO2 pollution by more than half.
China also produces about 20% of its electricity from coal, with India and India-based India Power (IPG) also producing some coal-fueled electricity.
The EIA noted that:”The United States is the largest producer of coal in the world and its coal consumption is projected to decline to about 7% of total electricity consumption in 2030, from about 10% in 2020.
The United Kingdom is also the world leader in coal consumption, producing about 12% of global coal-fuels, and more than 1.7 million metric tons of CO2 annually.
“This is not a new development.
In the UK, coal was used to power many of the UKs railways for more than 100 years, but it was eventually phased out.