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UK Policy on CCS:
—— Energy Security, No Excuse to Expand Coal Power

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The controversy over energy giant E.On’s proposed 1.6 GW coal-fired power plant at Kingsnorth in Kent has exposed a tension between the UK government’s climate change and energy security agendas. The UK government’s response to this issue is critical.

Allowing new coal plants without CCS equipment will do serious damage to UK’s credibility in international climate debates as well as its leadership in tackling global climate change. In addition, allowing new coal plants to go ahead in the absence of adequate guarantee will make it more difficult for the UK to persuade the developing countries such as China, India, etc. to further commit themselves to making efforts at an appropriate time in the future. Furthermore, the construction of new coal-fired plants without CCS will also be inconsistent with UK’s long term emissions reduction targets.

Energy security arguments are not sufficient to justify new coal plants without CCS. The security of UK gas supplies is very important, but should be tackled by investing in the UK’s gas infrastructure rather than through new coal.

Requiring new coal-fired plants to be ‘capture ready’ is not sufficient. Due to technical and economic uncertainties of CCS, there is no guarantee that CCS would be retrofitted at the sites concerned.

Additional policies are required to support CCS deployment. A limit on the carbon emissions from power plants should be implemented by 2020 which would exclude unabated coal, and further funding is needed for CCS demonstrations in the UK and abroad.

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