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Government Moves Closer
to Coal

The Government today moved one step closer to launching a program of new coal-fired power stations by claiming that coal has a crucial role in filling Britain’s predicted energy gap.

image courtesy of Greenpeace

John Hutton, the Secretary of State for Business, today addressed the Adam Smith Institute - a London based free market think tank - where he announced that fossil fuels will play a major part in the nation’s energy mix for the foreseeable future.

The announcement has been viewed as a clear sign that the Government will approve plans to build Britain's first coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth, Kent - the first facility of its kind to be built in the UK since 1984. A further seven coal-fired plants are currently under consideration for construction.

Mr Hutton, the cabinet minister responsible for energy, warned that a significant proportion of the nation’s electricity will still need to be sourced from fossil fuels even though 15% of the UK’s electricity will need to be generated by renewable energy by 2020 to meet EU targets - and a new generation of nuclear plants might maintain or increase the nuclear contribution.

As foretold in this morning’s Independent, the minister today said: “As a country we have to accept the reality that, even in meeting our EU 2020 renewables target, fossil fuels will still play a major part for the next couple of decades at the very least. And there is nothing wrong with that - provided we are meeting our international obligations to reduce our carbon emissions.

"For critics, there's a belief that coal-fired power stations undermine the UK's leadership position on climate change. In fact the opposite is true. Developing economies need to be able to see by the actions that we are taking that it is possible to use indigenous energy reserves and decarbonise your economy.” 

Speaking in response to the announcement, Stop Climate Chaos coaltition campaign manager Lucy Pearce said today: "If John Hutton is signalling he will allow a set of new and entirely unabated coal plants to be built, the UK’s climate strategy will be up in smoke.

"Coal’s a distraction from the real energy solutions in a time of climate change. What we need is a massive scaling up of renewables, combined with energy efficiency. New unabated coal is not the way to stop climate chaos."

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published: 15:41 - 10 March 2008