Dear Sir or Madam,
please say no to new coal fired power stations until Carbon capture and storage can be installed from the start and to go along with what the committee on climate change has said is needed we need renewable energy to increase to 30% of our supply in the uk by 2020 not 15% which is too low
Thank you for your e-mail to the Minister.
The Government recognises that electricity generated from coal-fired power stations plays an important part in meeting the UK's electricity needs. Coal also retains a significant role in global electricity generation for the foreseeable future, partly because it is the most abundant global fossil fuel, but also because it brings security of supply benefits. For example, coal fired power generation is a flexible electricity source that can respond effectively to changing levels of demand.
We will continue to need fossil fuel as part of a diverse energy mix for the foreseeable future. However, coal-fired electricity generation is the most carbon intensive of the major forms of electricity generation, emitting considerably more CO2 into the atmosphere than gas-fired generation. The 2007 Energy White Paper stated that on current policies world carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation are projected to increase by two thirds over the period 2004-2030. Much of this is driven by the continued use of coal. For example, China and India alone account for 60% of this increase in emissions (International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2006). There is therefore an overwhelming need to reduce carbon emissions.
In order to meet our carbon dioxide reduction goals, sources such as coal and gas must be cleaner. There has been, and continues to be, significant improvement in the efficiency of coal-fired generation technology. Advanced boilers, improved turbines and gasifiers can increase the efficiency of coal power stations and reduce emissions by about 20%. There is potential for further increases in the efficiency of coal-fired generation and thus reductions in its environmental impact.
It is also in our own vital interests that the technologies necessary to mitigate the emissions from burning fossil fuels are developed and deployed as rapidly as possible. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is an exciting emerging combination of technologies which could reduce emissions from fossil fuel power stations by as much as 90%. CCS is a process that involves capturing the carbon dioxide emitted when burning fossil fuels, transporting it and storing it in secure spaces such as geological formations, including old oil and gas fields and aquifers (natural underground reservoirs) under the seabed. Carbon dioxide capture technologies are based on three generic approaches :
pre-combustion, post-combustion and oxyfuel.
The Government recognises the potential for CCS technology to reduce UK and global CO2 emissions as well as helping to strengthen diversity and ensure security of energy supply. In the 2007 Budget, the Government announced its intention to launch a competition to design and build a full-scale commercial demonstration of the entire carbon capture, transport and storage chain. This commitment was reiterated in the 2007 Energy White Paper. On 19 November 2007, the Prime Minister formally launched the CCS competition to build a CCS plant in the UK using post-combustion capture. The UK has selected
post-combustion capture as it meets the UK's objective to demonstrate a technology that is globally relevant.
Post-combustion technology may be retrofitted (ie attached) to existing installations and is therefore likely to be particularly relevant to the major emitters such as China and India. However, the Government is not picking a technology winner by selecting post-combustion as it expects to see all CCS options rolled out once they have been successfully demonstrated.
It is important to stress that the UK is demonstrating global leadership by launching a CCS competition as only one other country in the world (Norway) is currently committed to commercial scale demonstration. The project eventually selected through the competition will be operational by 2014. Demonstration will enable the UK to test CCS technology, understand and reduce the costs and get the regulatory regime right. These are all needed before wide-scale deployment can take place. The UK project should be seen as part of a global collaborative effort to develop CCS technology.
The competition process is under way and is being run in a number of stages. The first was the pre-qualification stage. The deadline for applications was 31 March 2008. Bidders were assessed on a combination of technical, operational and financial criteria. Following this, four successful applicants were invited to undertake a series of detailed discussions and negotiations with DECC. They have been asked to send in detailed proposals of how they would build a CCS plant. Following a further negotiation/clarification process, DECC aims to accept final bids in 2009 and to appoint a preferred bidder in the same year.
On a much wider level, the UK Government continues to work with its international partners including the International Energy Agency, and as an active member of the Carbon Sequestration Leadership forum, to reduce carbon emissions.
The Government recognises the importance of research and development in clean coal technologies. The Environmental Transformation Fund (ETF) was established on 1 April 2008, part of which is to help fund Carbon Abatement Technologies demonstration projects. This programme focuses on the pre-commercial demonstration of key components and systems to support carbon abatement technologies. £2.2 million has been committed to one project so far. This is the Doosan Babcock project, which is a demonstration of a 40MWt Oxyfuel combustion system. It involves the development of a combustion rig at Renfrew in Scotland, to prove the scale-up of the Oxyfuel process, which enables the easy capture of carbon dioxide post-combustion in a coal-fired power plant.
The Government published a consultation on the regulations needed for CCS in June 2008 titled 'Towards Carbon Capture and Storage'. The CCS consultation asked for views on the proposed EU Directive on the geological storage of carbon dioxide and on the detailed licensing requirements that will form the UK's regulatory regime for offshore carbon dioxide storage. It also explored the concept of 'capture readiness' and what this might mean in practice and the regulations around this concept. The Consultation closed on 22 September 2008.
BERR Ministerial Correspondence and Enquiry Unit
Phone: 020 7215 5000
Fax: 020 7215 0105
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