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.

Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Helpdesk Analyst

£23000 per annum + pension and 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ...

Senior Helpdesk Analyst / Service Desk Co-ordinator

£27000 per annum + pension, 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ind...

Senior Pensions Administrator

£23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Administrator

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Admini...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London