Emergency coal power plants used for the first time as UK set to bear the brunt of cold snap with lows of -15C
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Emergency coal-fired power plants have begun generating for the very first time as the UK is set to bear the brunt of its coldest night of the 2023 so far. The decision has come amid growing concerns of a possible power shortage.
The two sites now in operation are located in West Burton in Nottinghamshire. They had been put on standby as a precautionary measure, but started feeding power to the country on Tuesday afternoon.
Two further units at a power plant in Yorkshire were also ordered to get ready to start generating on March 7. The decision has since been reversed.
Both coal power plants first began operating in 1966 and were due to shutdown in September last year. But operators kept them open for an extra six months at the request of the UK government.
It comes at a time when several areas of the country have been issued with weather warnings for a cold snap, with a good chance of snowfall. Temperatures are expected to plummet to as low as -15C in some regions, with the chilly conditions continuing over the course of the next few days.
National Grid has blamed the decision to make emergency coal-fired power plants operational on a shortage of wind and solar power generation. A lack of electricity due to ongoing strike action in France is also a contributing factor.
This is a further delay to the UK’s promise to move towards more sustainable energy production following concerns over disruption caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Coal is the dirtiest of all of Earth’s fossil fuels and produces nearly twice the carbon emissions of natural gases.