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The option to keep the UK’s coal-fired power stations at normal capacity this winter to ease the energy crunch remains on the government‘s table.

Speaking to the Economic Affairs Committee, Energy Minister Greg Hands said: “The UK remains committed to the phase-out of coal by the end of 2024, we brought that forward from 2025.

“We remain absolutely committed to that, in terms of what we might do this coming winter, we are keeping our options open, but we remain committed to the phase-out by 2024 of coal power.”

Last month, ELN reported that EDF, Drax and Uniper had been asked to keep their coal-fired power stations open longer as the government was looking at reinforcing backup electricity for the coming winter.

When asked about what additional steps might be taken to deliver reliable and affordable energy, Mr Hands said: “My first priority is to maintain levels of investment in the North Sea oil and gas and to make sure that we continue to produce.

“What we are doing, in addition, is sending a clear signal that we want to see that investment in the North Sea continues.”