The chief corporate officer of ScottishPower has called for the government to scrap the country’s carbon tax in order to keep coal-fired power stations open for longer and lower the risk of the lights going out.
Fears have been aired by the National Grid in recent months that the levels of investment in alternatives to the coal-powered stations being put out of commission – such as renewables and nuclear power – are not enough to stop the nation from facing a blackout in the event of a particularly cold winter.
Keith Anderson, chief corporate officer of ScottishPower, has said that the one way to ensure this does not happen is to cut out the carbon price floor (CPF).
CPF makes coal stations ‘largely uneconomic’
Anderson said that the CPF, which taxes firms for burning fossil fuels such as coal and crude oil, is already starting to make the remaining coal-fired power stations across the country “largely uneconomic by the middle of the decade”.
With the National Grid predicting that 2015 could be the year when the UK struggles to make ends meet in terms of the demand for energy, this could be particularly worrying.
“Abolishing the CPF, or freezing it at the current rate, would help to reduce upward pressure on bills, improve UK competitiveness and help in cost effectively maintaining security of supply,” Anderson said.
He went on to say that the cutting of the CPF could have a large effect on the bills of the average household in the UK.
This would be a huge relief to many, with a report in the Independent stating that as many as 2.5 million could be forced to take out loans this winter to make ends meet.
Anderson said: “We estimate that abolishing it could save some £33 from a typical dual fuel bill in 2015/16; freezing it at the current rate from April 2014 would save around £24.”
Fears over the future of coal
There are often fears about how the coal-fired power stations will continue to provide the amount of energy that is needed to meet demand in the UK.
In recent times, the government has pushed forth the idea of fracking to extract shale gas for a more sustainable future, as well as offering incentives to create offshore wind farms in the future.
In addition to this, it offered a very generous strike price to French firm EDF Energy to start work on its nuclear plant at the Hinkley C site, which is due to be opened in 2023.
These come as a reaction to the expected quick deterioration in the number of coal power stations.
At the moment, these account for 40% of all of the UK’s energy production, but with only 12 plants still in operation around the country, there are fears that carbon taxes and EU regulations may close most of these by 2015 or 2016.