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
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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: Business Analyst - Financial Services - City, London

£50000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Service...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is the o...

Recruitment Genius: Administrator - IFA Based

£22000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions