On 23rd April Ed Miliband outlined plans for clean coal technology to help reduce the UK’s carbon emissions and begin to take action against climate change. Today the details of the new coal consultation have been announced, asking for feedback on three documents published today on the Department for Environment and Climate Change website.
The proposals focus on three main areas and provide more detailed information about the plans in the pipeline to help reduce carbon emissions. The first part of the proposal will mean that all newly built coal fired power stations will only be approved if they include CCS (carbon capture and storage) technology that captures at least 25% of the power stations’ carbon emissions and pumps it back into the ground where oil and gas were originally stored beneath the North Sea.
Energy companies have submitted projects into a government competition to build the first commercial scale demonstration of CCS technology and win subsidies to go towards the cost of installing carbon capture and storage. Projects entered include the proposed new coal fired power station E.ON have been looking to build at Kingsnorth in Kent. Chief Executive at E.ON, Paul Golby, has commented however that if they are not successful in winning the competition, the plans to built the new power station at Kingsnorth would be scrapped as it would not be economic to do so.
Greenpeace’s executive director, John Sauven, said,
“Britain could and should be a global leader on climate change and Ed Miliband has the power to make that happen, but first he has to rule out emissions from new coal-fired power stations, like Kingsnorth, and set a deadline for closing the existing coal plants like Drax.”
The proposals announced will mean that if the CCS demonstrations prove to be viable, the technology should be implemented in existing coal fired power stations within 5 years of this being realised. In addition, it has been acknowledged that if proving the efficiency of CCS takes longer than expected, contingency plans need to be in place to ensure action is still being taken to reduce existing coal fired power stations’ carbon emissions. These measures would likely be in the form of a carbon ‘cap’ which would limit the amount of carbon that each coal plant could emit per unit of energy generated. Ed Miliband said,
“The conditions we’re proposing for new coal are the most environmentally ambitious of any country in the world, requiring the demonstration of CCS on a substantial proportion of any new power station and the 100% retrofit of CCS when it’s proven. By acting early, jobs will also be created as Britain develops the expertise in what could be a major new industry, with CCS projects offering the potential to form the hubs for clusters of low carbon industries.”