Promoters of at least two further clean-coal projects are expected to announce schemes soon after the general election.
The projects would use integrated gasification combined cycle technology – which turns fossil fuels into gas to run through a turbine generator – and would need Government support.
This could include provision for clean-coal plants to be guaranteed access to the Grid to run on baseload, in the same way as nuclear plants enjoy a `must run’ status.
Despite Labour indications that it would encourage clean-coal technology, and the announcement of two possible projects last month, remaining promoters are wary of making commitments ahead of the election. `I don’t think anybody wants to become a political football,’ said a source close to the schemes.
The Second European Gasification Conference in Milan at the end of February was told that coal would be the key to the technology’s future in Europe.
While Italy has built three plants using refinery residues, none of the other west European countries had a cheap source of such residues, while use of orimulsion faces severe political difficulties.