Energy companies to keep coal plants online

Article posted

29th Sep 2022

Read time

3-5 min read


Mollie Pinnington

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The UK has reached agreements with German-owned energy company Uniper to keep their coal-powered energy plant online throughout winter. This is in hopes that it will help to mitigate the impact of the energy crisis across the UK and Europe.

The UK government reached out to Uniper as well as other energy suppliers including Drax and EDF to ask them to delay the decommissioning of their coal-powered power plants over the next few months.

All three companies have confirmed that they will keep at least one of their coal plants online until the Spring.

EDF has spoken out saying their West Burton plant will stay online as part of a standby arrangement which was designed to support energy security and will be decommissioned in April next year.  Drax has also confirmed their plant will also stay online till April next year.  

Uniper has been the most recent energy company to confirm that their Ratcliffe power station will stay online until the end of March next year. The energy generated by this will be for dispatch by National Grid ESO.  The energy company have also said they will consider keeping the station online until September 2024 to support energy security.

Without this contingency plan, it had been estimated that the UK could experience up to 80 hours of insufficient electricity supply this winter. However, this has been drastically reduced to 10 hours of insufficient energy.

These contingency plans are being set up not just to protect the UK’s energy but also to ensure energy security across Europe as well.   Countries across Europe are still trying to cope with disruptions to gas flows from Russia which came to a complete halt at the end of August.

As of last year, Europe depended on Russia for around 40% of its gas, this means that they have had to rely on other sources of energy income which has led to a lot of volatility in the energy market. Therefore, keeping the coal power plants on over the winter will secure energy for the EU and UK and could help any turbulence in the energy market over this period.     

As we mentioned above Uniper has also considered the idea of keeping its stations online till September 2024, which would be when the rollout of the UK’s coal phase-out begins. They are going to review this possibility in March, depending on the state of the energy crisis by then.       

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