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Britain to close all of its coal-fired power plants by 2025

The move is seen as a major win for the environment ahead of climate talks in Paris.

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    Britain's Energy Secretary Amber Rudd speaks at the annual Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Britain October 5, 2015.
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Britain has announced it plans to close all of its coal-fired power plants by 2025.

“We are tackling a legacy of underinvestment and [aging] power stations which we need to replace with alternatives that are reliable, good value for money, and help to reduce our emissions,” Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd said in a statement. “It cannot be satisfactory for an advanced economy like the UK to be relying on polluting, carbon intensive 50-year-old coal-fired power stations.”

Coal still accounts for 20 percent of Britain’s energy, even as renewable energy has grown to account for 25 percent of Britain’s overall energy production. To begin the shift, Britain will restrict the use of coal-fired power plants beginning in 2023, with all plants closing completely by 2025. The United Kingdom will construct gas-fired plants as an alternative.

“Energy security comes first and I am determined to ensure that the UK has secure, affordable, and clean energy supplies that hardworking families and businesses can rely on now and in the future,” Ms. Rudd said.

The move is widely seen as strategic ahead of the climate talks that will begin in Paris at the end of November. But other countries have also begun to move away from coal.

In March, China announced that it would close four of its largest coal-fired power plants outside Beijing in early 2016, also intending to replace them with plants that operate on gas.

And as early as 2012, regulatory measures from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  that required reductions in air pollution from the oil and natural gas industry prompted the closure of some thirty-odd coal-fired plants throughout the United States.

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), once one of the biggest generators of coal-based electricity in the country, has been one of the largest contributors to that shift. Under an agreement with the EPA, the TVA has retired 1,759 megawatts of energy this year alone, and plans to broaden its portfolio to include more sustainable forms of energy by the year 2020.    

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