A consultation document has been published that details how the UK government proposes to reconcile the need to curb emissions of carbon from future coal-fired power stations with the need to maintain a diverse energy mix.
It proposes that new coal-fired power stations should only be given consent in the UK if they demonstrate carbon capture and storage (CCS) on at least 300MW net (around 400MW gross) of capacity from day one. Each demonstration project would have to store 20m tonnes of CO2 over 10-15 years.
Alongside the government's ongoing competition to build a post-combustion demonstration, up to three further projects including those involving pre-combustion technology could be supported. The document says that the primary legislation required to implement this mechanism will be sought at the earliest possible opportunity.
It goes on to say that all new coal-fired power stations should be required to retrofit CCS to their full capacity within five years of CCS being proven. The consultation document also explores whether this requirement should apply to existing coal-fired power stations.
In the event that CCS takes longer than expected to be judged proven, further measures may be needed to ensure emissions from coal are substantially reduced. These measures could include an annual cap on individual power station emissions, a limit on running hours or an emissions performance standard that would limit the amount of CO2 that could be emitted per unit of electricity generated.
Energy and climate change secretary 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 per cent retrofit of CCS when it's proven.'
The consultation document is published alongside an Environmental Report and Impact Assessment. Views are sought on all three documents and they are available here.
The closing date for responses to the consultation is 9 September 2009.