Go-ahead for carbon-capture power stations

A A A

The Government today signalled the go-ahead for a new generation of coal-fired power stations - but insisted they would be made to reduce their carbon emissions.

Energy Secretary Ed Miliband said up to four new coal plants could be built before 2020, which he said was "important for our energy mix".

But he said at least a portion of each new power station must be fitted with the technology to trap and store their carbon dioxide underground.

His announcement to MPs followed a statement by Chancellor Alistair Darling in yesterday's Budget that there would be funding for up to four projects which demonstrate the new technology.

Today Mr Miliband said a levy to raise money for fitting the carbon capture and storage technology (CCS), which has not yet been tested at a commercial scale, would add an estimated 2 per cent on energy bills by 2020.

Mr Miliband said: "The era of new unabated coal has come to an end," as he announced all new coal fired power stations would be required to have CCS technology.

The new "clean" plants must demonstrate CCS on at least 300 MW output.

And if the technology works, the power stations would then have to have CCS fitted to cover 100 per cent of their energy output by 2025.

The Energy Secretary said the scheme was "the most environmentally ambitious of any country in the world, and puts us in a world leadership position on CCS and coal."

And he said: "There is no alternative to CCS if we are serious about fighting climate change and retaining a diverse mix of energy sources for our economy."

CCS technology traps the carbon dioxide - the most common greenhouse gas - which is created when fossil fuels are burnt, and stores it permanently underground.

It has the potential to cut the CO2 output from a power station by up to 90 per cent, although it reduces the efficiency of a plant due to the energy demands of trapping the carbon emissions.

Mr Miliband said some of the coal which would power the new plants would come from within the UK, while some would have to be imported.



Last year coal power stations provided 31 per cent of the UK's electricity, with around a third of the coal coming from the UK. In 2007 some 46 per cent of the coal used was imported from Russia.

Coal is the dirtiest of fossil fuels, but is expected to remain a widely-used source of energy because it is relatively abundant, cheap and easy to extract, transport and store.

To tackle the climate emissions of coal, Government is already running a competition to fund the building of one commercial scale, demonstration CCS plant, in which BP, E.ON, Peel Power and Scottish Power are the shortlisted candidates.

If, for example, E.ON were to get the go-ahead for a new coal-fired power station with CCS at Kingsnorth, Kent, the technology would trap emissions from around a quarter of the plant.

The competition has now been scaled up to as many as four power stations, while the regulations also unveiled today would prevent any new coal plants being built without the technology.

There is also funding available from the EU for such schemes.

It is hoped that the financial incentives and regulations will together ensure that the technology can be independently judged as economically and technically proven by 2020, with full installation then required within five years.

Today's announcement was welcomed by unions who said it had the potential to create thousands of jobs and avoid energy shortages in the coming years.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "This announcement finally puts serious money and political will behind clean coal.

"These proposals will place the UK at the forefront of the development of a technology and industry that can deliver really deep cuts in carbon across the globe.

"There will be financial costs but the longer term benefit of this move to the UK's economic growth and employment will be great."

Unite national officer Dougie Rooney said CCS presented the opportunity to create thousands of skilled jobs and secure the UK's energy supply, and urged the Government to ensure British workers were given the opportunity to work on the construction projects it would bring.

Gary Smith, GMB national secretary for the energy industries said developing clean coal technology was essential for the twin challenges of climate change and "keeping the lights on".

"We desperately need to get cracking on this initiative. We are staring into the precipice of an energy gap.

"Burning gas to generate electricity does not provide a long term solution," he said.

And he urged: "Any Government money awarded to support the development of carbon capture and storage must be tied to a commitment to support for the UK's indigenous coal.

"We have hundreds of years of coal reserves that will greatly assist when it comes to security of supply."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower