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Government closes in on deal with EDF to extend life of coal plant as it scrambles to secure supplies

Tuesday, June 14th, 2022

The government is preparing to finalise an agreement to continue operations at a coal-fired power station that was set to close this autumn.

Downing Street is desperate to ensure the security of the UK’s energy supplies this coming winter, and has been holding talks with the plant operator EDF to extend the life of the West Burton A Power Station in Nottingham from October to March next year.

City A.M. understands a deal could be reached this week, with the French energy giant negotiating the price with the government, Ofgem and the National Grid’s Electricity System Operator (Grid ESO).

An EDF spokesperson told City A.M.: “EDF is working hard to finalise an agreement with Grid ESO to support the government’s request to keep West Burton A Power Station available over next winter. An update will provided at the appropriate time.”

The West Burton A Power Station was opened in 1966 and was due to close last year, but has already had its life extended until September.

Despite the plant’s stay of execution, EDF is only prepared to potentially to cover next winter, with plans to plant closing down as a mixture of both government policy and because the French energy giant deemed it had reached the end of its lifespan.

However, EDF has run a full safety check on the plant, meaning operations could continue over the winter if necessary.

Meanwhile, the government has maintained 2024 as the final deadline for coal operations in the UK.

It is only looking to secure a standby arrangement with EDF for the plant to remain available for back-up generation, according to The Financial Times, which could provide enough power for about 1.5m homes.

There are three coal-fired power stations still operating in the UK, following a decade-long switch from coal to natural gas as the base-load source for meeting the country’s energy needs.

The government is also in discussions with Drax about reopening its coal terminal at the power group’s plant in Yorkshire, and part of Uniper’s Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal plant in Nottinghamshire.

Both plants are due to close in September.

The units could generate electricity for about 4m homes when running at full capacity.

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