Three new power stations with the capacity to provide electricity to four million homes were given the go-ahead by the government yesterday.
The gas-fired facilities will produce around 4 gigawatts of power once up and running, and the plans guaranteed sufficient land around the sites to retrofit carbon capture and storage technology. With consent granted, RWE can start building the planned 2,000MW station at Pembroke, Powerfuel Power can build its 900MW installation at Hatfield, and Centrica Leasing can go ahead with its 1,020MW station at King's Lynn.
With a third of the UK's electricity generating capacity to be switched off in the next 15 years as aging nuclear reactors are taken out of commission, European environmental regulations shut down coal-fired plants, and North Sea oil and gas reserves dwindle, new power stations are a priority.
Mike O'Brien, the government's energy minister, said: "It is essential to replace older polluting power stations that are reaching the end of their lives with new stations that operate more efficiently. Investment like this in the energy sector will create new engineering and construction jobs."
But the industry says more is needed. David Porter, the chief executive of the Association of Electricity producers, said: "We welcome today's consents for three large new power stations. But to fill the gap which will be left by old plant that is closing, we shall need far more new capacity. Power companies will have to invest £100 billion in new plant and timely planning decisions will be vital."