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Coal Generation In UK Jumps As Wind Speed Drops

Coal met some 3 percent of the UK’s electricity demand on Friday morning, reaching its highest level of Britain’s power generation in one month, amid lower wind speeds this week and an outage at a gas-powered plant, Bloomberg reports.

The last time the UK generated 3 percent of its electricity from coal was in early September when low wind generation reduced renewable power supply and triggered the massive spikes in UK wholesale electricity prices.

Utility Uniper fired up its coal-powered plant in Ratcliffe early on Friday, while the gas-fired plant in Pembroke, Wales, operated by RWE, suffered an unplanned outage.

Over the past week, gas has consistently accounted for the largest share of the UK’s electricity generation, according to data from National Grid ESO. For example, on Wednesday, gas produced 44.8 percent of Britain’s electricity, more than wind with 19.2 percent and nuclear with 12.6 percent.

Surging natural gas prices and warm and still weather in September forced the UK to fire up an old coal plant that was on standby in order to meet its electricity demand.

The UK has pledged to phase out coal-fired power generation by October 2024.

UK power company Drax could have its last two coal-fired plants in the country operating beyond the 2022 deadline it had set for closure if the UK government asks it to keep them operational amid the energy crisis in the country and the whole of Europe.

“If the government wants us to rethink our plans, we need to talk to them in the next few months,” Drax’s chief executive Will Gardiner told the Financial Times at the end of September.

Last week, the UK government committed to decarbonizing the country’s electricity system by 2035.

“While gas generation continues to play a critical role in keeping the UK electricity system secure and stable, the development of clean energy technologies means it will be used less frequently in the future,” the UK government said.

Last year, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the United Kingdom would aim to become a global leader in offshore wind energy, powering every home in the country with wind by 2030.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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