Power generation company Drax said on Thursday that the UK, which is facing rising natural gas prices, has been forced to run coal-fired power plants to secure energy supplies.
The country is facing an ongoing energy crisis, especially in Europe, due to its dependence on natural gas to generate electricity. The price of European gas futures has doubled since May.
“These facilities have been instrumental in keeping the lights on at such times,” the group said in an emailed statement to AFP.
Drax – who owns the country’s largest facility in Yorkshire in the north of England – planned to convert coal to biomass this year to help tackle climate change.
Will Gardner, chief executive, told the Financial Times that the group could now increase coal use.
“We are very aware that the country could face a major problem and if Drax can do something, we will think about doing it,” Gardner told the business-focused newspaper.
Any delay could complicate the UK’s plans to phase out coal-fired power generation by October 2024.
The government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which wants to reduce Britain’s carbon emissions to zero by 2050, will host the COP26 UN Climate Summit in Glasgow in November.
Wholesale natural gas prices in the UK peaked last week when a fire knocked out a key location connecting the country’s power grid to France.
Rising prices in the cold northern hemisphere due to increased demand in the winter also raised concerns about rising domestic energy bills.
Gardner also told the FT that if temperatures were colder than usual, Britain would face severe cold.
About 1.5 million consumers in the UK have seen their domestic energy suppliers wreak havoc in recent weeks as a result of market turmoil.
Europe’s energy crisis has been exacerbated by the unavailability of wind for turbine sites, as well as the ongoing nuclear shutdown – and the elimination of coal mines by climate-conscious governments.
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