Coal closures ‘not a risk to UK energy security’

Closing coal power stations will not affect the UK’s energy security. That’s according to Ben Caldecott, Director of Stranded Assets Programme at Oxford University who said combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) […]

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By Jacqueline Echevarria

Closing coal power stations will not affect the UK’s energy security.

That’s according to Ben Caldecott, Director of Stranded Assets Programme at Oxford University who said combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants are the alternative to ensure security of supply in the country.

Speaking to ELN he said: “One of the problems in the market at the moment is that we have existing gas CCGTs that aren’t running very much and the reason for that is that coal is competing with it. So what you could do is you could close coal-fired power stations quite quickly and then just run your existing CCGTs a bit more and of course you might need a bit more gas investment but that will deal with the coal coming off.

 

“This idea that fast coal closures are bad for security supply is wrong. It’s actually good for security of supply because you get to use the gas more so it’s better for the environment and stops 1600 deaths a yea from air pollution from coal- fired power stations.”

Mr Caldecott believes the UK has a “very robust” energy system that doesn’t allow any “blackouts” and even though the government has plans to scrap subsidies for renewable projects, they are still “very reliable”.

He added: “Particularly when you’re thinking about using them in a network. Of course they don’t run all the time because they’re an intermittent technology. Wind doesn’t blow all the time but if you have a wind network based around the UK, wind resources will be used most of the time. Offshore wind is much more reliable because wind blows in the oceans more regularly and consistency than it does on land.

“Then you’ve got to combine that with demand side response, demand reduction, electricity storage, hydro storage, other forms of storage which are very important of course, peaking plants and flexible generation like CCGTs. So you’ve got to put renewables in the context of a broader energy system and in that context they are very reliable.”