The Dimming of Coal: The UK’s Emergency Power Reserves in Peril

This winter, Britain faces a complex energy challenge. The country’s remaining coal power plants, operated by Drax and EDF, are set to close, leaving the UK without its traditional backup energy reserves during the coldest months of the year. As per the National Grid’s statement, discussions with Drax and EDF have concluded. Both companies confirmed that their sites – West Burton A in Nottinghamshire and two units at Drax’s plant in Selby, Yorkshire – would no longer be available.

These plants served as vital last-resort energy providers during the previous winter, stepping in when the primary gas and renewable energy supplies ran low. However, the confirmed closure of these coal units implies that the Grid will no longer be able to keep this crucial contingency in reserve.

As Kathryn Porter, an energy analyst at consultancy Watt Logic, warns, the closure of these two coal power plants means that

“electricity supplies this winter would be less secure”

The National Grid had previously depended on these plants as backup facilities, especially during periods of system stress. The total backup capacity they offered was substantial, providing approximately 2.4 gigawatts when required. Last winter, these units were warmed up seven times and pressed into action once, costing the Grid (and ultimately bill-payers) about £400m.

Another coal power station, Uniper’s Ratcliffe-on-Soar, will remain operational but only on a commercial basis, hence, not available as a contingency. The Grid also relied on this plant to boost supplies during the summer heat, exemplifying its importance in maintaining a steady energy supply during peak demand times.

In the future, coal power generation will be phased out completely by October 1, 2024, primarily by making it “uneconomical” to generate any more. This is a reckless step in the mania of transitioning away from fossil fuels and nuclear power.

However, as we are shoved closer to this coal-free future, the immediate repercussions cannot be overlooked. The impending closure of these coal units casts a long shadow of uncertainty over Britain’s energy stability this winter. Our primary concern should be to ensure an uninterrupted power supply, especially during the most challenging periods of the year.

This situation calls for urgent consideration of backup solutions to maintain energy security. It is crucial to ensure that the bridge between the past and future remains stable, and energy supply continues uninterrupted. The aim of any energy policy should be to provide reliable and affordable power for all.


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Phillip Bratby
July 1, 2023 10:59 pm

It is strange how the UK government’s propaganda is that renewables make the electricity supply more secure. The opposite is true – it is dispatchable power stations that provide the security.

Ed Zuiderwijk
Reply to  Phillip Bratby
July 2, 2023 2:13 am

Having no power at all is a very stable situation.

Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
July 2, 2023 6:55 am

Yes, and throughout human history is the norm. Should be no problem.

July 1, 2023 11:14 pm

The very first place that should be “rationed” is 10 Downing St, Buckingham Palace etc

It is about time some of these climate fools got some consequences heaped on them.

That being said, I wish all those in Pommie-land a nice warm winter, because a cold one will not be pleasant without reliable electricity.

Buy blankets… lots of them.

John V. Wright
July 1, 2023 11:19 pm

Britain faces a grim future of failing power supplies as we phase out fossil fuels completely and switch over to offshore wind generation. There are two main reasons for this looming disaster:

  1. Politicians, both Left and Right, have bought into the fiction of manmade catastrophic global warming.
  2. A failure of journalism.

The current Conservative administration, in power for the last 13 years, have poured billions into subsidies for offshore wind. Even the power companies have pointed out that, despite the huge investment in these turbines, they will not be able to guarantee supply when the wind doesn’t blow. This problem is never commented on by our MPs.

We have a General Election coming in 2024 and it is virtually certain that the Conservatives will be ousted and Labour will form the next Government. Unfortunately, they are heading down the same path. So for the people of Britain it doesn’t matter who you vote for – the result will be the same.

The incompetence is truly staggering. For example, we are fortunate in this country to be sat on huge, frackable, shale formations. Both sides have confirmed that fracking is, and will remain, banned. Gas prices remain high for the consumer – but fracking is banned, because fracking creates CO2 and we, as a nation, are pursuing Net Zero. We point to the States where, sensibly, fracking is in full swing. We point to China where hundreds of new coal-fired power stations are being built every year. Our politicians put their hands over their ears and sing “La-la-la”.

It gets worse. We have a very successful offshore oil and gas sector. New licences for the next phase of development have been banned. Both sides of the political divide agree with this ban.

It is as if our politicians have got together and said “How best can we undermine the future of our country and damage the wellbeing of our fellow citizens? We are blessed with many natural resources that many nations are not – how best can we ensure that those resources are never made available?”

And one of the reasons that this weird attitude prevails is a failure of journalism in Britain (I write as a retired journalist). Because, despite a wealth of scientific and mathematical evidence available to demonstrate the intellectual poverty of what is basically a ‘belief system’, the media sits on its hands. There are no challenges to the belief system, just nodding dog journalism with everyone going along with the fiction. Let me give you an example….

I haven’t met anyone, on either side of the debate, who does not agree that gas central heating is an efficient and popular form of central heating. Turn it on and the radiators warm quickly. Hot water is available in the shower. It works. Our politicians are determined to get rid of gas central heating and replace it with heat pumps, a technology that is not suitable for about 50% of our current housing stock and has many well-documented weaknesses. It doesn’t really work unless your home is very well-insulated. When it does work radiators are slow to warm up. It fails when outside temperatures fall below freezing.

So – why do our politicians want to replace gas central heating? The answer is staggering. It’s because, they solemnly warn us, that gas central heating generates 14% of Britain’s manmade CO2. If you do the maths, it turns out that this equates to 0.000002% of the earth’s atmosphere. So – our politicians are determined to ban a highly-efficient domestic heating system (which could use low-cost fracked gas if we weren’t banned from using it!) and replace it with a virtually useless heat pump arrangement in order to prevent us generating an amount of carbon dioxide which equates to a proportion of the atmosphere measured to six places to the right of the decimal point.

You couldn’t write it – and fortunately for our politicians, the journalists don’t. I can make these calculations, why can’t they? I can bring this to people’s attention, why can’t they? I can challenge politicians with this basic stuff, why can’t they?

Because, sadly, they are nodding dog journalists. Just believe what you are told. Don’t buck the system. Don’t ask awkward questions.

Phillip Bratby
Reply to  John V. Wright
July 2, 2023 12:10 am

Is it because politicians and the journalists are: a) ignorant, b) stupid, c) well rewarded by the WEF, d) blackmailed by the WEF, e) something else? I would really like to know.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
July 2, 2023 2:42 am

Or all five?

Reply to  mikelowe2013
July 2, 2023 3:45 am

After 1 and 2 they are easily manipulated.

Neil Lock
Reply to  John V. Wright
July 2, 2023 12:14 am

John, I think you nailed it when you pictured the politicians – of all the parties – asking themselves: “How best can we undermine the future of our country and damage the wellbeing of our fellow citizens?”

Power shortages are a feature of their policies, not a bug.

Reply to  John V. Wright
July 2, 2023 12:33 am

Politicians, both Left and Right, have bought into the fiction of manmade catastrophic global warming.

I think you meant “Politicians, both left and extreme left, …..”.

The UK no longer has a functional Conservative party

Rod Evans
Reply to  Redge
July 2, 2023 1:11 am

The Long March Through The Institutions, is complete. It took three generations as Gramsci suggested, A new age of subservience not seen since before the reformation/enlightenment is upon us.
The lights are going out all across the Western world, it is difficult to see what will power them back on….

Reply to  Redge
July 2, 2023 3:47 am

Neither has Australia 😞

Interested Bystander
Reply to  Redge
July 14, 2023 4:42 pm

UK conservatives are closer to US Democrats while Labour seems to be full on Communist. At least that’s how it seems here in toasty 39C Northern California.

Reply to  John V. Wright
July 2, 2023 3:44 am

Where is Guy Fawkes when he’s most in need?

Reply to  Streetcred
July 3, 2023 4:44 am

Gunpowder’s been banned, all that CO2 it releases is dangerous.

Reply to  John V. Wright
July 2, 2023 8:29 am

Politicians, both Left and Right

For Britain, a better description would be Left and Far Left.

Interested Bystander
Reply to  John V. Wright
July 14, 2023 4:39 pm

Why? Because they would be cancelled and out of a job.

July 2, 2023 12:12 am

Follow the money…

“”The crown estate has generated record profits of almost half a billion pounds from Britain’s offshore windfarms, as talks continue over how much of the windfall should be shared with King Charles.””

So, what about the rest of us?

Reply to  strativarius
July 2, 2023 12:35 am


Reply to  Redge
July 2, 2023 12:59 am

Porridge oats

Reply to  strativarius
July 2, 2023 2:36 am


Reply to  strativarius
July 2, 2023 5:56 pm

The Crown Estate isnt the personal property of the Monarch but its not public property either

Its an enduring corporation sole which the monarch isnt involved its operation and very limited in the overall direction – which is done by Crown Estate Commissioners

In 1760 control was ceded to the Treasury by George III.
25% of the revenue is what funds the monarchy, the rest is of course is to people like strativarious

Peta of Newark
July 2, 2023 12:17 am

Something compelled me to check ‘energynumbers’ first thing this morn and it was ‘interesting’
Notable that UK demand was running 18GW – notable as the graph its shown on only goes down to 19.9
This being on (another) Sunday morn= that of 6th August 2017 at 05:45
(Ain’t we doing well – our energy is now soooo cheap and secure we all feel safe using less of it. It actually got quite cold here on The Fen this morn and that’s why I looked)

Also notable was the power being sent to the continent, early morn so UK solar hadn’t started but German would have, it was/is quite breezy yet still 300MW of coal was being burned and 200MW of ‘other’. Whatever that is
Yet 3.2GW was being exported

I didn’t immediately think to take the screenshot and by time I did, Solar (production) and Demand had both gone up by 500MW. Which is odd in itself

There’s some hard-to-decipher politics going on there but my takeaway is that The Continent is gonna suffer when our coal is switched off

edit to OMG. I sussed it.
The French Rioters have now learned how to make Molotov Cocktailsout of electricity instead of Le Gazzoleene et La Petreauleeumme
Bless them for being so thoughtful and considerate

That is why they need that electric through the interconnect
I bet Bill Gates never thought of that when he invented computers.
Did he even think. Does he even think to this day…..

UK Grid 020723.JPG
Peta of Newark
Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 2, 2023 12:54 am

It just dawned a truly scary prospect

Take a laptop battery, remove the cells but still connected in the string as they are (6 18650 cells of 3 in series, 2 in parallel)
Make sure it’s fully charged up.
Use a spot welder (soldering wont work in this ‘application’) to attach a short phat wire to each end – just long enough so you can twist the ends together.

When ready, twist the bare wire ends together and (quickly, gotta be fast here) hurl it at ‘whoever or whatever you don’t like
i.e An Electric Hand Grenade

They’d be just like miniature versions of burning teslas and in any quantity = incendiary, toxic gas/fumes, lethal and impossible to extinguish.
A lot like Phosphorus Bombs – as dropped by the British on German cities during WW2

Even used disposable vapes have one helluva electric grunt left inside them even when the ‘vapour’ is all used up…… see them setting fire to waste recycling plants on a regular basis nowadays.

You DID NOT Just Read This

Dave Fair
Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 2, 2023 10:45 am

I didn’t read yours, Peta, but insert an approximate 5-second timing device (crude and rude will work) instead of twisting wires together. [Also, don’t read this. It might just replace The Big Guy 10% Joe Brandon’s F16 in fighting off the Leftists.]

Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 2, 2023 10:07 pm

You should delete your post right away before the loud pounding on your door starts…

Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 2, 2023 3:52 am

Except that Gates didn’t invent anything, he’s a smart grifter that has perfected ‘stealing’ others inventiveness.

Reply to  Streetcred
July 2, 2023 6:04 pm

“created” a different version is a better term
MS-Basic language and MS-DOS operating system where his and Paul Allens creations

Rod Evans
July 2, 2023 12:52 am

The lunacy of energy planning here in the UK is unprecedented. Our decision makers/politicians have no idea how serious the social issues will become if we have a winter worth talking about and no reliable energy providers to meet the increased demand.
Even Germany, as crazy as they have been in recent years demanding the closure of nuclear facilities even when their gas supply was being taken away, even they kept their coal plants on emergency standby.
The UK is in a very odd place now.
We have slow walkers stopping traffic in our major cities in the name of stopping oil use. We have the same clowns throwing paint over art exhibition works and powder over sports events. Our police allow and actively encourage these anti social activists by the failure to deal with them promptly and effectively.
Very soon a major headline grabbing, martyr like incident will occur. When that happens the police will of course blame the driver that runs down the protestor/s and of course will refuse to accept it is they, (the police) who have allowed a silly situation to get out of control with such tragic outcomes.
The only small mercy is the UK is not France, here such an incident will just increase the sales of virtue candles to mark the passing of the martyred colleague. The endless rioting we now see on the continent is thankfully not something we major in….yet.

Ed Zuiderwijk
July 2, 2023 2:06 am

The dimming of coal?

The dementing of politicians.

Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
July 2, 2023 8:29 am

errr… dim politicians

Ed Zuiderwijk
July 2, 2023 2:10 am

The UK will be a third world country as of next winter. That may be the reason why half the third world wants to live there.

July 2, 2023 2:40 am

What this actually means is that, when the power supply dies due to the technical incompetence of many politicians, there will be occasions when some weaker members of British society will be unable to survive the cold. Those politicians will be DIRECTLY resposible for those deaths, and I hope there will be some follow up to sheet home their resposibility!

July 2, 2023 3:40 am

Sounds like I’ve slotted my world tour in at precisely the right time before the NH goes dark.

July 2, 2023 4:29 am

They’re not the only lefties in trouble losing the plot-
Shanghai & Beijing Are All Doomed?Physical Stores & Large Supermarkets Are Closing One After Another – YouTube
So naturally they need a scapegoat-
China’s Economic Crisis: Influential Experts Silenced | Vantage with Palki Sharma – YouTube
although in their case there is some truth in it as energy destruction in the West means recession and less demand for their traded goods. Nobody is going to be in the mood for fairy dust transitioning much longer and watch for the ass falling out of the EV car market soon.

Reply to  observa
July 2, 2023 5:41 am

Is there any doubt that we are entering a global recession/depression?

Reply to  Scissor
July 2, 2023 6:14 am
Joseph Zorzin
July 2, 2023 4:41 am


CHINA Power Crisis Disaster Electricity Shortages as Exports Fall & Economic Downturn Accelerates

CHINA is in Deep Trouble and the latest data for May reveals that EXPORTS Collapsed 7.5% in the month and the economy is slowing much faster than expected. The slowdown in the Global Economy is hurting China however in addition to these external factors China is also experiencing POWER SHORTAGES. In this video I provide full details of the power supply issues that China is experiencing and discuss the potential impact on both the China’s Economy and the Global Economy.

July 2, 2023 5:52 am

Worried about climate change and you wanna save the planet for under thirty bucks?
Worried about climate change? My sketching club is here to save the planet (

Then don’t leave all the sketchy doodling up to the hockey stick art school-
The Green Sketching Handbook: Relax, Unwind and Reconnect with Nature : Foxon, Ali: Books

July 2, 2023 8:48 am

One of my favorite series to watch is a show from Britain called “New Tricks”. Have watched it several times. The show used a coal fired plant as the back drop to one episode. Highly recommend watching. Battersea?

Ed Zuiderwijk
Reply to  mkelly
July 2, 2023 1:01 pm

Yes Battersea, but only the building, which is listed. The content of boilers and generators was gone decades ago.

Gary Pearse
July 2, 2023 2:55 pm

Does Britain not know they have many times the coal resources than the amount they have already mined over the several centuries? Does it not know that over 95% of Canada’s Nova Scotia coal was mined from below the seafloor?

“The coalfield, which extends from Cape Morien to Cape Dauphin, and 300 kilometres offshore, has hosted about 100 mines and produced more coal than all other Nova Scotia coalfields combined.”

Hire a few 1000s of Nova Scotia coal miners to keep the heat on in UK and your big industries ticking over. Any sensible thinker would predict that this coal is going to be used after the current unsustainable fantasy meme necessarily comes to a screeching halt.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
July 2, 2023 6:08 pm

Dont need 1000s miners . Its all done by machinery these days. Much safer and higher productivity to compete with open cast mines where the mechanisation is greater –

Reply to  Gary Pearse
July 2, 2023 10:14 pm

“Any sensible thinker …” Better stop there – there are none left in government, academia, or the media and it seems even in corporate board rooms. All lemmings, the lot of them, heading fast towards the clift, with ever greater earnestness and fervour for their cultish beliefs.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
July 3, 2023 4:55 am

Future generations will be grateful that we left all these resources (coal, gas) in the ground for them to exploit. They will also be mystified at the depths of stupidity to which our generation sank in voluntarily opting not to exploit theses resources ourselves.

July 2, 2023 3:10 pm

What a coincidence that both Drax and EDF are supporters of the World Empire of Fascism.

It doesnot add up
July 3, 2023 8:06 am

The reserves they really have to worry about are the ones that feed the interconnectors. If there is tight supply on the Continent it is doubtful whether they would help out at almost any price. It becomes a bidding contest for who gets the blackouts and “demand side reduction”.

July 3, 2023 8:07 am

Wind and solar predatory pricing model drives baseline producers out of business.
The more wind and solar installed, the more baseline producers that will go broke, the more unstable the grid.

Mark BLR
July 3, 2023 8:13 am

Both companies confirmed that their sites – West Burton A in Nottinghamshire and two units at Drax’s plant in Selby, Yorkshire – would no longer be available.

My understanding is that these options were supposed to close (or be converted to burn either wood-pellets or gas instead, in the case of Drax) last September, but got a “reprieve” until this March.

NB : The Telegraph website changed their HTML code a year or two (or maybe three …) ago and stopped “playing nice” with my OS + browser + ad-blocker combination.
Does anyone have an alternative link saying whether West Burton A and/or Drax actually produced any electricity between March and June ?

New month, time to update my “When does the GB grid hit the nuclear (+ coal) ‘wall’ ?” graph with another 30 days of actual data …

Andy Pattullo
July 4, 2023 7:38 am

Imagine if the people designing our energy systems today were allowed to design our nutrition systems.
You would be encouraged to eat dirt, and if your nutritional needs were not met then you would be encouraged to eat grass, if that didn’t work you could swallow a few flies and beetles. If you were still struggling then some engineered manufacture protein/nutrient snack would be allowed once a week.
When mass starvation was looming government would hunt around for some reserves of bacon, cheese, milk and eggs but then act surprised that all agricultural producers had gone out of business. Then they would blame those producers for letting down humanity.

Interested Bystander
July 14, 2023 4:34 pm

The people will freeze on their homes or do something stupid like burning charcoal grills indoors and it’s their own government doing it to them. It’s time to break out the rope.

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