Coal accounted for 39% of the UK’s electricity generation in 2012, according to figures released by the Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC) last month, a rise of 10% on the previous year. Coal consumption rose 24.5%, while consumption by the major power producers rose by 31.3%.
The rise comes as a result of high gas prices and the push by utilities to use up the remaining hours of allowed operation at old coal-fired power plants before the introduction of the UK carbon tax increased the costs of emitting carbon and the EU’s Large Combustion Plant Directive forced such plants to close. Gas-fired generation dropped by to 28% of the total, down from 40% in 2011.
Despite demand for coal growing, domestic coal production dropped by 8.5% in 2012, leaving imports to meet the rising need for coal. These rose 37.8% on 2011’s levels.
Overall the UK remained a net importer of energy, relying on imports to cover its demand for coal, manufactured fuels, crude oil, electricity and gas. In total, 43% of the UK’s energy needs were met by imports.
Written by Jonathan Rowland
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