Support for nuclear power through the fossil fuel levy should be redirected urgently to clean coal technology, says the Coalfield Communities Campaign.
Proposed Environment Agency limits on sulphur dioxide emissions need to be reconsidered it says, or coal consumption for power generation will be slashed to half its 1994-95 level by 2001 and lead to the closure of large parts of Britain’s remaining coal industry.
Electricity can be produced more cheaply from coal than nuclear power or gas, says a CCC report, A Fair Deal for Coal – A Fair Deal for Britain. Coal generation costs 1.8p/kWh, or 2.3p/kWh for stations fitted with flue gas desulphurisation, while the cost of nuclear power ranges from 2.4p/kWh for AGRs to 3p/kWh for Magnox reactors.
The CCC sets out the strategy it wants an incoming Labour government to adopt, including:
* a public investigation into Magnox running costs;
* a study by the electricity regulator of deals where regional electricity companies take a stake in constructing gas-fired power stations and agree to buy their output;
* a ban on using gas for generation in `profligate’ open cycle gas turbines;
Britain is a leader in clean coal technology but there has been no significant investment in power stations using it, and public funding – by diverting the fossil fuel levy – is needed in a pump priming role, it says.
It points to future targets on sulphur dioxide emissions. While individual stations can meet proposed new Environment Agency limits, overall company targets will require a 75% cut by 2005.