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Amber Rudd announces changes to UK energy policy

Energy and climate change Secretary Amber Rudd has detailed her plans for the UK’s energy policy in the coming years. The new policy is aimed at increasing competition, reducing energy bills for the consumer and securing adequate power generation for the country.

With the policy, the government reaffirmed its commitment to low carbon, low-cost energy sources, and it also announced plans for a consultation regarding the abolition of unabated coal-fired stations by 2025.

Moreover, during the speech at the Institute of Civil Engineers, Amber Rudd made the case for prioritising gas-fired stations in order to reduce emissions.

Amber Rudd stated:

“One of the greatest and most cost-effective contributions we can make to emission reductions in electricity is by replacing coal fired power stations with gas.

“I am pleased to announce that we will be launching a consultation in the spring on when to close all unabated coal-fired power stations.

“Our consultation will set out proposals to close coal by 2025 - and restrict its use from 2023. If we take this step, we will be one of the first developed countries to deliver on a commitment to take coal off the system.”

The Energy and Climate Change Secretary also detailed plans for more nuclear power stations, and she committed funding for three further auctions of offshore wind power projects, however, she made it clear that the industry would have to reduce its costs as there would be “no more blank cheques”.

Mixed response

The changes have received a mixed response. Environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth described the decision to phase out coal as “historic”. However, it also feels that the government should be focusing on renewable energy and energy efficiency as “Gas is too high-carbon for a long-term future.”

In addition, the Solar Trade Association was pleased at the decision to eliminate coal, stating:

 “Phasing out coal power electricity is of course good news and was expected – this is an essential move.”

But it added:

“However it makes little sense to replace fossil coal only with fossil gas.”

Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association, went on to urge the government to support solar power as there was little commitment to it during the speech, and other groups were disappointed that there wasn’t greater provision for improved energy efficiency.

Moreover, many analysts argued the reduction in funding for renewable forms of energy would have a negative impact on the government’s climate change targets and could increase costs for consumers.

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