UK to shut down coal-fired power plants by 2025

The UK will shut down its coal-fired power plants by 2025 under plans announced o n Wednesday, to become the first major economy to put a date on shutting coal plants to cut carbon emissions.

The country plans to enhance nuclear and natural gas-fired power plants to complement intermittent renewable energy, according to secretary of state for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd said.

"It cannot be satisfactory for an advanced economy like the UK to be relying on polluting, carbon-intensive 50-year-old coal-fired power stations," Rudd said at the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Around a third of the UK's electricity was generated from coal-fired plants last year though, many of the 12 still operating plants are old and due to close over the next decade under tightening EU environmental standards.

According to Rudd, the government would start  consultation next spring to set out proposals to close by 2025, all coal-fired power stations which were "unabated" - plants had no means to capture and store their carbon emissions - and restrict their usage from 2023.

''One of the greatest and most cost-effective contributions we can make to emission reductions in electricity is by replacing coal-fired power stations with gas,'' Rudd said.

''Gas is central to our energy secure future. In the next 10 years, it's imperative that we get new gas-fired power stations built.''

On BBC Radio 4's Today programme Rudd said she did not know how many new gas plants would be needed but a "clear signal" that coal plants would be shut down would spur investment in new gas.

She decried "woeful underinvestment in critical energy infrastructure over the last decade" and defended a new gas thrust, insisting the government remained "absolutely committed" to its carbon emissions reductions targets.

The dozen coal-fired plants that remained had a combined capacity of almost 19 gigawatts (GW), according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).