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Government: CCS demonstrations on all new coal plants

The Government today proposed that all new coal-fired power stations must include a Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project as a condition of planning consent.

Following Chancellor Alistair Darling’s budget promise yesterday to introduce a funding mechanism to support CCS demonstration projects, Energy and Climate Change minister Ed Miliband today laid out the scale of the Government’s CCS ambitions.

“I now propose a requirement to demonstrate CCS on a substantial proportion of any new coal-fired power station,” said Miliband.

“We will propose for consultation a requirement to demonstrate at least 300MW of net capacity, or around 400MW of gross output, as a condition of any consent. The demonstration condition would mean that henceforth, unabated coal-fired power stations will not get government consent.

“Second, alongside this, we must secure not just a commitment to demonstrate, but, when the technology is proven, a commitment that CCS will be fitted on the entire plant. As the Committee on Climate Change concluded, “conventional coal-fired power generation should only be built on the expectation that it will be retro-fitted with CCS by the early 2020s” - the earliest that they believe it will be feasible.

“So every coal-fired power station built from now would have to commit to retrofitting CCS on the whole plant, 100%, within five years of 2020, subject to the technology being ready.”

However, despite Miliband’s promise of “no new coal without CCS”, today’s proposals make no mention of E.ON’s Kingsnorth coal-fied power plant in Kent, currently awaiting Government approval, and whether this will be subject to the CCS demonstration clause.

Miliband’s proposals will be made available for public consultation this summer, alongside proposals for a funding mechanism for CCS demonstration projects, as mentioned by Darling in his budget.

The mechanism is likely to be based around a feed-in tariff for CCS, so these projects would receive
a fixed price for electricity, or around a fixed price for carbon abated.

The Government hopes this mechanism will encourage CCS demonstration projects beyond its own competition, managed by Parsons Brinckerhoff, to capture the carbon dioxide from the generation of 300 to 400MW of electricity; E.ON, Peel Power, RWE npower and Scottish Power are the shortlisted candidates.

ICE director general Tom Foulkes welcomed today’s announcment, saying the UK needed coal to avoid an energy shortage, and needed CCS to combat climate change.

“The development of carbon capture and storage at a commercial scale will be needed, if coal is to be part of the future energy mix and the targets announced in yesterdays budget of 34% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 and the 80% reduction by 2050 are to be hit,” said Foulkes.

“As with other aspects of the development of the low carbon economy, we must invest in the necessary engineering skills to deliver and maintain this vital infrastructure.”

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