Labour's power call sets up clash with Coalition

Party wants carbon-capture and storage technology installed to cut emissions – but plan would double the cost of electricity

Labour has put itself on a fresh collision course with the Government over its dash-for-gas policy, proposing that after 2020 all new gas-fired power plants be forced to install technology to reduce their carbon emissions that will double the cost of the electricity they produce.

Staking out its ground in the fierce debate over the cost, security and greenness of Britain's power supply, Labour placed carbon capture and storage (CCS) at the centre of its energy policy. In an amendment to November's Energy Bill, the party also proposed forcing all coal-fired power stations to fit CCS after 2020.

CCS involves capturing the carbon dioxide waste gas from power stations, liquefying it and piping it deep underground into geological formations where it can be permanently stored.

Most experts agree that the technology needs to be widely used on fossil-fuel burning power stations if the world is to have a chance of limiting global warming to two degrees, beyond which the consequences become increasingly devastating.

The Labour leader Ed Miliband's climate-change envoy, Barry Gardiner, said: "This is the clearest indication yet from Labour that it is backing CCS as a major strand of our future industrial and green-energy policy. It is the only way we can achieve our emissions targets and gives Britain a great opportunity to develop world-leading CCS technology which we can export."

Although the Energy Bill will require all new coal-fired power stations to be fitted with CCS after 2020, existing ones will be exempt, while no gas station would be obliged to use the technology until at least 2045.

As he unveiled the Bill, Chancellor George Osborne, championed the use of gas and pledged to build dozens of gas-fired power stations in the UK in the coming years, in part to capitalise on its potentially abundant – but unproven – reserves of shale gas.

Dr Robert Gross, director of Imperial College's centre for energy policy and technology, said: "I welcome Labour's sentiment on CCS. It's saying that if you want new gas-fired power plants, then that's fine, but you have to make it consistent with emissions targets.

"There is an inherent contradiction in the Government's mix of a dash-for-gas and ambitious carbon-reduction targets," added Dr Gross, who advised the Government about the Bill.

However, he said CCS was still a fledgling technology and that Britain might struggle to deploy it on a large scale by 2020. Furthermore, he was sceptical about Labour's claim that the UK could become a world leader in CCS technology, pointing out that its efforts to build demonstration projects had so far been unsuccessful.

The Coalition still intends to provide £1bn of funding in a competition to build a workable CCS demonstrator, although the project has been plagued by uncertainty and, despite drawing up a shortlist in October, it has yet to name a winner.

Kieron Stopforth, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said Labour’s proposal to fit CCS to all new gas power plants would increase the cost by at least £200m per plant.

This could as much as double the cost of the electricity those plants produce over their lifetimes. Construction costs would gradually come down over time but they will still be significantly higher than without CCS, Mr Stopforth said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manager - (communications, testing, DM)

£32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manage...

Guru Careers: Finance Account Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Finance Account Manager with...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Direct Marketing Manager - B2C, Financial Services - Slough

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity h...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas