The UK government has extended the life of a coal-fired power station in Yorkshire in a bid to ‘boost’ energy security, even as it last year lobbied other countries to ‘relegate coal to the story”.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng confirmed on Twitter that the government has reached an agreement with EDF to keep West Burton power station online this winter, rather than closing it in October as planned.
Mr Kwarteng said talks to keep two other factories open were “ongoing”. Sky News understands the extension will last until March 2023, with no further extensions planned beyond that.
“With uncertainty in Europe following the invasion, it is only right that we explore all options to bolster supply,” the business secretary tweeted.
“If we have backup power available, let’s keep it online just in case. I’m not taking any chances.
“For our long-term energy security, we are accelerating renewables and nuclear – while maximizing North Sea oil and gas production,” he said.
Last year, as host of the COP26 climate summit, the government pressured other countries to “put coal back in history” because it is the most fossil fuel more polluting.
“Cash, coal, cars, trees”, has been repeated often by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as a mantra summarizing the UK’s priorities to be addressed at the international talks in Glasgow.
Since then, Russia’s latest invasion of Ukraine has dramatically altered the energy and geopolitical landscape, shaking energy security around the world, with the European Union in particular feeling the pressure on its gas supplies and prices.
Some hope the disruption will hasten the transition to renewables as climate and geopolitical gas-shutdown goals align, while others fear it will hamper climate action as countries fall back on polluting energy sources such as coal.
Gas consumption had increased as countries sought to replace highly polluting coal.
Activists have accused some countries of doubling fossil fuel production under the guise of energy security.
‘Unless the UK wants to gain an international reputation as a hypocrite, these coal-fired power stations must stand idle unless there is a real emergency shortage of gas,’ the political director said. from Greenpeace UK, Doug Parr.
“If successive Conservative governments hadn’t crippled onshore renewables and then continually refused to remove the planning laws that still block their development to this day, we might not be so dependent on gas – and now potentially on coal – for our electricity,” he said.
He called for accelerating renewable energy projects on and off-shore, as well as increasing home insulation to reduce demand.
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