The reliability challenge for coal

Coal is among the most reliable of fuels for generating electricity. In normal operating conditions, 90% of UK coal-fired capacity can be assumed available to meet peak demand.

The problem

Continued use of coal to generate electricity depends on the successful installation of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology to reduce carbon emissions. If CCS can be shown to work on an industrial scale, then coal will continue to play an important part in the UK energy mix.

The solution

Coal is considered a reliable fuel for generating electricity: operators of coal-fired power stations can control their output by choosing how much coal to burn. As long as a secure supply of coal is available, an operator can plan in advance how much electricity a power station will generate at any given moment.

The technology used to generate electricity from coal is well established. In 1948, 90% of UK energy came from coal, and it remained our primary energy source until 1967. The technology and expertise involved are now mature, with no major reliability issues.