Britain outlines plans for 2025 coal-power phase out

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will set an emission limit on coal-fired power generators from Oct. 1, 2025, forcing them to close unless they are fitted with carbon capture technology, the government said on Friday.

As part of its efforts to meet the country’s climate targets, Britain in 2015 announced it would end “unabated” coal-fired power generation - plants without technology to capture and store carbon emissions - by 2025.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) fleshed out the plan on Friday, saying it would set an emission limit of up to 450 grammes of CO2 for each kilowatt hour of electricity produced to make sure polluting plants close.

Since Britain introduced a tax on CO2 emissions from power plants in 2013, coal power generation has plummeted, with the country last year seeing its first day of coal-free power generation since the industrial revolution in the 19th century.

Around 6 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired power capacity is currently in use, capable of powering around 6 million homes, but BEIS said that by the 2025 date it expects this to fall to just 1.5 GW and that other forms of generation will make up the shortfall.

With many of the country’s nuclear power plants also set for closure in the late 2020s, and few new plants being built, the government in 2017 first started payments under a capacity market, which pays plants to make available back-up electricity at short notice.

“Our assessment is that the Capacity Market will ensure that there is sufficient capacity in place to replace unabated coal units when they close,” BEIS said.

Britain has a legally binding target to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 to 80 percent below 1990 levels as part of a drive to counter global warming.

Reporting by Susanna Twidale; Editing by Mark Potter and Adrian Croft