Low wind generation, high gas prices leads UK grid to ask for West Burton A coal-fired power

Image credit EDF Energy

The United Kingdom is quickly phasing out coal-fired power in its electricity mix and only operates a handful of such stations nationwide.

This week, however, coal-fired power was brought up to the forefront, if only temporarily, as the national grid dealt with low capacity wind-energy output and high natural gas prices during a warm weather streak, according to multiple news reports.

The Telegraph and other outlets reported that the National Grid ESO asked owner-operator EDF Energy to fire up its West Burton A coal-fired plant to help meet electricity needs in the UK. This startup Monday pushed coal-fired power to 5.5 percent of the national resource mix, same as wind. On Tuesday, however, coal-fired capacity was back to 2.2 percent of UK electricity generation.

The UK plans to eliminate coal-fired power completely by 2024. It represented 70 percent of the electricity resource mix only 30 years ago.

EDF Energy has previously announced plans to shut down generation at West Burton A by September 2022. The 2,000-MW station was built and commissioned in the 1960s. The company sold its West Burton B gas-fired plant this year.

Coal-fired power in the U.S. also was ramped during a February winter storm in the Midwest and southwest. In the Southwest Power Pool system, coal-fired power delivered 16.8 GW, or 41 percent of the overall resource mix, during a Feb. 16 planned outage stretch when numerous power plants tripped offline.

During the Winter Storm Uri cold streak, however, plants from all types were knocked offline at various times, including gas, wind, coal, nuclear and solar.

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