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Energy company SSE announced on Wedneday that its Ferrybridge power station in West Yorkshire will close in March because it is “no longer economical”.

Phil Taylor, a professor of electrical power systems and the director of the Institute for Sustainability at Newcastle University, welcomed the closure, saying it showed that the UK can’t continue to rely on fossil fuels.

He said: “We simply can’t continue to burn coal – it’s one of the most environmentally damaging fossil fuels and is an inefficient and expensive way to meet our energy needs. It’s inevitable that coal-fired plants like Ferrybridge will close, with severe consequences for local jobs.

“The fact that this happens driven by market forces rather than as part of a well-considered energy strategy threatens the country’s energy security. This is why we need a long-term, progressive energy strategy in place urgently.”

He also called for more support for carbon capture and storage (CCS) and support to help workers get the transferable skills necessary for a sustainable economy.

‘Not economic’

SSE said the plant was forecast to make a £100m loss over the next five years thanks to Britain’s environmental policies and rising costs.

SSE managing director for generation Paul Smith said: “It’s been known for many years the UK would have to phase out coal as it moves towards a more sustainable energy mix. 

Last year UK power from coal fell by a quarter, with coal-generation producing around a third of all UK energy.

Phil Whitehurst, national officer of the GMB union, said: “This is devastating news for Ferrybridge workers at a station that has years of life left to supply electricity, at a fraction of the price of other energy suppliers.

“As things stand, the only thing consumers will get from some of these suppliers are higher bills.

“Unlike Ferrybridge none of the components and little of the labour will be sourced from the UK.”

An IRENA report released yesterday revealed they the renewable energy industry worldwide added one million jobs last year. Around 112,000 UK jobs come from the industry.

Brad Allen

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