Great Britain will head into winter without backup coal power plants after Drax and EDF confirmed last week plans to shut down their remaining coal units, the UK Telegraph reported.
After ministers had asked the National Grid to determine if coal plants would be available to act as backup for the electrical grid this winter, the National Grid revealed in early June that it was in talks with electrical companies to keep coal plants on contingency as they did last winter.
However, last Wednesday, the National Grid announced that it had ended talks with Drax and EDF about keeping open West Buron A in Nottinghamshire and Drax’s two coal-fired units in Yorkshire after the companies made it clear that the plants would not be available.
Last winter, Drax and EDF were paid to keep the coal plants on standby as a backup if the electricity generated from gas and renewable sources ran low.
With the companies refusing to keep the plants open, the National Grid will be unable to maintain a contingency for this coming winter.
Another coal power station that participated in last year’s contingency, Uniper’s Ratcliffe-on-Soar in Nottinghamshire, will continue operating but only on a commercial basis, making it unavailable as a contingency this winter.
According to the National Grid, both Drax and EDF confirmed that their coal plants would not be available again this winter as they have started the decommissioning process.
According to Drax, the decision against keeping the coal units in Yorkshire going was for technical, maintenance, and staffing reasons.
During the previous winter, Drax’s two coal units, along with the two coal units at West Burton A and Uniper’s coal unit at Ratcliff-on-Soar, provided a backup capacity of about 2.4 gigawatts. The coal units were warmed up on seven occasions during the last winter, however, were only used once in March. The cost of last winter’s contingency plan was around £400 million.
During a heat wave in June, the National Grid relied on Uniper’s Ratcliffe plant to boost electricity as businesses were relying more heavily on air conditioning.
Starting on October 1, 2014, the UK government plans to phase out the use of coal completely, mostly by making it “uneconomical.”