Britain is considering keeping some coal plants available for back-up power to ensure sufficient electricity supplies for next winter, National Grid said on Wednesday.
Britain has a target to close its coal-fired power plants by October 2024 as part of efforts to cut emissions in line with climate goals.
Plant operators such as EDF and Drax had indicated their plants would close before this deadline, but they have been kept available under contracts with National Grid as part of contingency plans for winter 2022/23 against a backdrop of record gas prices and fears of supply issues.
National Grid's Electricity System Operator said it had been asked by the government to explore potential contingency contracts for coal plants for the 2023/24 winter.
This winter the back-up coal plants have been used only once, when a cold snap swept the country in early March.
EDF said it had already indicated to the government that it planned to close its two remaining coal units at the West Burton A plant on March 31, 2023.
“There are a number of workforce and operational reasons that mean extending the life of West Burton A again is very challenging," it said in a statement.
"Retaining suitably qualified and local personnel to ensure safe operation was a major challenge last year and, looking forward, becomes untenable as many of the workforce have stayed on well beyond planned retirement dates already," EDF said.