Kingsnorth delayed – what’s to cheer about?
There were two distinct responses to the Government’s consultation on carbon capture for coal-fired power stations. From the ‘green lobby’ that the framework is not tough enough, whilst generators are stating it is too tough and there is a real danger that nothing will be built.
Well, we now have our answer, from E.ON at least: Kingsnorth postponed, seen as “good news” by some. The economic downturn had “pushed back the need for a new plant in the UK to around 2016 because of the reduction in demand for electricity” But E.ON remains “committed to the development of cleaner coal and carbon capture and storage (CCS), which we believe have a key role to play in tackling the global threat of climate change, while ensuring affordability and security of energy supplies.”
This announcement will accelerate gas dependency, despite the recession. It will also delay the UK’s carbon capture technology platform.
The TUC has argued for a middle way to ensure that CCS is built in the UK, with at least four UK-based full size clean coal power plants with CCS going ahead, within a defined and urgent timetable together with full financial support. These four new stations would deliver 6.4GW of new coal power plant with full CCS, cut UK emissions by 42 million tonnes a year on 2007 levels, and offer a CCS way forward to the thousands of “dirty coal” plant in China and India.
So what’s the strategy here, then? Is it for the UK to lead a global clean coal technology development with full-scale CCS plants in the UK? Or cheer as work on a technology seen by the IPCC itself as vital falls, another victim of the recession?