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Coal central to solving the UK’s affordable energy challenge

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World Coal,

Fuel costs for generating electricity from coal are less than half those for gas in the UK, according to a new report from the Association of UK Coal importers (CoalImp) that calls for the UK government to recognise the “essential role” of coal in securing the country’s energy supply.

Noting that, in 2013, coal provided almost 40% of UK electricity, CoalImp argues that coal should continue to play a key role in a diverse energy mix.

“With so much uncertainty remaining around the UK’s energy mix, it’s clear that coal remains an abundant and economically viable choice that can continue to make a very significant contribution to keeping the lights on,” said Nigel Yaxley, managing director of CoalImp. “It’s also clear that coal plant provides a flexible back up for renewables with coal stocks the best virtual storage for electricity.”

The CoalImp report also pushes the government to support carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects under its Electricity Market Reform process in order to deliver its stated ambitions of 10 GW of CCS by 2030.

“Evidence shows that CCS with be economic alongside other low-carbon technologies, and is not only an essential technology for carbon mitigation, but an export opportunity for companies with an early mover advantage”, CoalImp said in a press statement.

Yet the UK coal fleet is currently under threat from current energy policies that will see most coal plants facing potential closure by 2020. This situation undermines that ability of the UK to develop a successful CCS programme, argues the association, as skills and experience along the whole coal supply chain will be lost.

In response, CoalImp calls for an review of the level of the UK Carbon Tax to ensure the UK remains competitive on energy prices and to avoid the premature closure of coal-fired power plants.

“There’s never been a more important time for driving the benefits of indigenous and imported coal as part of a diverse energy mix.” Concluded Yaxley. “We believe that it’s time for urgent action to place it back at the heart of UK policy.”

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