June 13, 2019 / 12:41 PM / 2 months ago

Britain's SSE plans to shut its last coal-fired plant by March 2020

LONDON (Reuters) - British energy supplier SSE Plc plans to shut its Fiddler’s Ferry coal-fired plant in northwest England by March 2020, saying the loss-making plant could not compete with more efficient gas and renewable energy options.

Britain plans to close all coal-fired power plants by 2025 as a part of efforts to meet its climate goals and coal plants have become increasingly uneconomic due to levies on carbon dioxide emissions.

“Financially, the station is making significant losses. ..At nearly 50 years old, the station is unable to compete with more efficient and modern gas and renewable generation,” Stephen Wheeler, Managing Director of Thermal Energy at SSE said.

The plant failed to secure any contracts beyond September 2019 under Britain’s capacity market, which pays generators to be available during times of peak demand, and lost around 40 million pounds in SSE’s financial year ending March 31, the company said.

The closure puts 158 jobs at risk, with SSE seeking to avoid compulsory redundancies where possible, it said.

Power plants in Britain are subject to a domestic tax on carbon emissions, as well as obligations under the European Emissions Trading System which charges power plants and factories for every tonne of CO2 they emit.

Prices under the EU scheme have trebled over the past 18 months to around 25 euros a tonne.

The green levies have encouraged an increase in gas-fired power generation, which emits around half the CO2 of coal plants, and renewables such as wind and solar.

Britain on Wednesday said it would seek to become the first G7 country reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, accelerating its current commitments on climate change.

Last month Britain saw its first coal-power free week in over a century and coal power provided just 5% of the country’s electricity in 2018, down from around 30% a decade earlier.

Reporting by Susanna Twidale in London and Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Deepa Babington

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