The government has pledged to switch off coal plants by 2025 and the World Wide Fund for Nature has argued that they should seek alternative replacements instead of building new large gas-fired power stations, the Guardian reports.
The environmental group believes that renewables, battery storage and flexible technologies should be used to fill the gap left by coal.
From coal to clean
While it is generally accepted that large new gas plants would be required as coal is phased out, the WWF’s report argues that the UK is in a position to skip new gas completely and go straight from “coal to clean”.
Using official government forecasts, the environmental group revealed that the growth in electricity produced by wind, solar and other renewable resources would be more than enough to replace the lost power from coal plants.
The majority of the growth will come from offshore wind farms, and 95% of the renewable energy capacity is already under construction or contracted under government subsidy deals.
£557m has been set aside for renewable subsidies
What’s more, government funding of £557m has been set aside for more renewables subsidies between now and 2025, providing the remaining required capacity as coal is dropped from the grid. To further promote the role renewables can play, the environmental group is also calling on the government to reconsider supporting solar power and onshore wind farms, which have had their subsidies stopped.
The WWF’s head of climate change and energy, Gareth Redmond-King, called on ministers to ensure the review does not lead attention to turn to gas, continuing: “If we don’t need large-scale gas, if it can’t compete with renewables and there’s no need for it, why would you need a route to market for it?
“It is essential the government does not substitute one dirty power source for another.”
He hopes to remind the government that there are, in fact, other cheap renewable sources, other than offshore wind, that they could be supporting.
Clean growth a key pillar of our modern industrial strategy
A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said: “We are one of the first countries to commit to end unabated coal power and are leading the world in encouraging other countries to make the same commitment. With clean growth a key pillar of our modern industrial strategy, we are growing our economy while cutting emissions.
“With up to £557m of investment in new clean energy projects we have a diverse energy mix that is secure, affordable and providing more clean power than ever before.”
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