Britain's Energy Secretary Amber Rudd wants all United Kingdom coal-fired power stations shut down by 2025, with their use restricted from 2023. Rudd also wants more gas-fired stations to be built, describing "polluting" coal as "perverse".
She says, "Frankly, it cannot be satisfactory for an advanced economy like the UK to be relying on polluting, carbon-intensive 50-year-old coal-fired power stations. Let me be clear: this is not the future. We need to build a new energy infrastructure, fit for the 21st century."
The only other way Rudd says coal fired power stations will be allowed to operate post 2025 is if they are able to install carbon capture and storage (CCS) systems. CCS has long been pushed as the answer to cleaning up coal plant emissions, but there has not been much done to develop the technology. There is only one commercial scale plant operating in the world.
Coal provides a quarter of the UK's electricity supply, but Rudd says, "We are tackling a legacy of underinvestment and ageing power stations which we need to replace with alternatives that are reliable, good value for money and help to reduce emissions", adding investment in nuclear power is also vital
"Gas is central to our energy-secure future," she says. "So is nuclear."
Although former U.S. vice president Al Gore, an active campaigner for clean energy, described Rudd's announcement as an "excellent and inspiring precedent", other environmentalists say she is not doing enough to promote renewable energy sources.
They say nuclear and gas power are not the cheapest form of energy in the long run. Not only are renewable energies cleaner, but because there are no fuel costs - the sun and the wind are free - these technologies ultimately offer better value for money.