Britain has fired up some of its last remaining coal power plants to help keep the lights on as the country’s wind turbines slow over a few days and the demand for electricity rises.
Three of the UK’s last coal power plants, operating at Drax, West Burton, and Ratcliffe, were called on to supply 6% of electricity on Thursday morning.
Coal’s share of the electricity mix was roughly double the share of wind and solar power in the electricity mix, and six times the average contribution made by coal plants in the final months of last year.
The coal plants are likely to keep running over the next few days, alongside a fleet of gas-fired power plants, before breezy weather returns to help meet the rising demand for electricity from renewable energy sources.
The electricity system operator said that the UK still had enough electricity to meet demand, but the cushion of extra power supplies was lower than usual “owing to a number of factors” including “varying renewable generation levels and colder temperatures”.
It is the third time in recent weeks that National Grid’s electricity system operator (ESO) has warned that energy supplies are under pressure.