The World-Wide Fund has this past week called on the UK government to reconsider its support for solar power and onshore wind farms both of which have had subsidies axed.
As it stands the WWF is arguing that the UK has no need to build new large gas-fired power stations to replace the coal plants that the government has pledged to switch off by 2025. Instead, they are looking to push the gap to be filled by renewables, battery storage and flexible technologies.
This is to allow the UK to go from “Coal to Clean Air” and skip new gas completely as stated in a new report by the environmental group. This challenge’s the stigmatism surrounding the phase-out of coal which has led many to believe that we will require large new gas plants.
This has come mainly from Amber Rudd who as the energy secretary in 2015 had said: “in the next 10 years, it’s imperative that we get a new gas-fired power station built”. Not only that but big energy firms including Drax and Germany’s RWE want to build large-scale gas plants on the site of former power stations in Yorkshire and Essex respectively.
Gareth Redmond-King the WWF’s head of climate and energy urged ministers to not allow gas to be part of the UK power structure. “If we don’t need large-scale gas, it can’t compete with renewables and there no need for it, why would you need a route to market for it?”
Using official government forecasts the growth in electricity produced by wind, solar and other renewables would more than replace the lost power from old coal plants. In fact, around 95% of that renewable energy capacity is already being built or contracted under government subsidy deals.
The government has allocated £557m of funding for more renewable subsidies between now and 2025, however, the WWF has also called on the government to reconsider support for solar power which has had subsidies axed. This is because a reliable power system depends on a range of technologies to support its services.
Being one of the first countries to commit to ending unabated coal power we are leading the world in encouraging other countries to make the same commitment. With clean growth as a key pillar of our modern industrial strategy we will continue to grow our economy whilst also cutting emissions.
With these new investments in clean energy projects, the UK has a bright future for a diverse energy mix that is secure, affordable and able to provide more clean power than ever before.