MPs back CO2 emissions standards for power stations

An influential committee of MPs called on the government to limit the amount of carbon dioxide that power stations can emit in a report published on Tuesday

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee says that the current enthusiasm for coal-fired generation threatens UK emissions reduction targets. The government should make it plain to generators that it will not allow coal-fired stations to operate unabated in the longer term.

It wants the government to commit to a date by which all power stations should meet an emissions standard set in terms of kilograms of CO2 per megawatt hour of electricity generated. This limit should equate to “capturing at least 90% of carbon emissions” from a coal station. Stations failing to meet this standard would face closure.

“The current momentum for new coal-fired plant is not taking adequate account of its environmental impact,” complain the MPs. “Replacing old coal-fired power stations with new ones… locks Britain into a high level of emissions for years to come.”

The Committee thinks that the price of carbon under the EU emissions trading scheme (EUETS) may not provide enough of an incentive for generators to fit carbon capture and storage (CCS) and argues that the threat of mandatory CCS, or an emissions standard, are essential to encourage operators to take up the technology.

"[The government] must tell the industry that carbon capture and storage will be required, and that coal-fired power stations will not be permitted to operate unabated,” said committee chairman Tim Yeo MP. “By setting a deadline for power stations to meet a certain emissions standard, the development and deployment of CCS will be given a much needed push in the right direction”

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