Under the Large Combustion Plant Directive, set by the EU in 2002, it was agreed that emissions emitting power stations would be given a timed allowance in hours at the end of which they would shut down while by the end of 2015 all such stations would close. So, under this agreement, our coal fired power stations have been run in to the ground to coincide with their planned shutdown date. Minimal investment has been given to them and therefore, in spite of the vulnerable position the UK now finds itself in, in terms of generation capacity, it is too late to revive them.
Fourteen percent of UK capacity is going down while plans for full replacement are nowhere near fruition. With large industrial consumers prepared to reduce consumption in periods of high demand, the system will scrape through this coming winter but potentially there could be a shortfall looking ahead. One solution to the problem, but in the long term, has been to commission new nuclear power stations to provide sustainable carbon free electricity. The plans to build a third nuclear powered station at Hinkley, Hinkley C, has been part of that aspiration for at least the last ten years but this will not give a short term solution.