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Committee advises Government on approach to fossil fuel generation – 18 June 2010

The Committee has advised Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne, to consider extending the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) competition to include gas as well as coal demonstration projects, and to consider extending the proposed Emissions Performance Standard to cover new gas plant added to the system from 2020.

The letter, from Lord Adair Turner, recommends a coherent approach to all conventional fossil fuel generation (i.e. coal and gas), building on the current – coal focused – approach.

Given new evidence on the potential competitiveness of gas CCS with other forms of low carbon generation, and the very limited international effort to develop this technology, the Committee suggests that serious consideration should be given to funding at least one gas CCS demonstration project as part of the four coal CCS demonstration projects committed to in the Coalition Agreement.

CCS is a technology, which if proven at large-scale could very significantly reduce emissions of carbon from burning coal and gas to produce electricity.

The Committee’s analysis shows that the path to meeting the UK’s 2050 target to reduce emissions by 80% requires that the power sector is largely decarbonised in the period to 2030 (e.g. average emissions should be around 100 g/kWh in 2030, compared to around 500 g/kWh today).

Given the need to decarbonise the power sector in the period to 2030, and therefore the very limited scope for investment in conventional gas generation beyond 2020, an Emissions Performance Standard that would effectively require any new gas plant beyond 2020 to be fitted with CCS should also seriously be considered.

The Committee acknowledges the need for investment in conventional gas fired generation to maintain security of supply over the next ten years, and propose that the Emissions Performance Standard should not apply to plant added to the system before 2020.

Chief Executive David Kennedy said:

“In order to meet our climate change targets, we need to invest in low carbon power generation. New conventional gas generation is required to maintain security of supply over the next ten years. Beyond that, further investment in conventional gas would conflict with required decarbonisation of the power sector by 2030. We are recommending that investment in conventional gas after 2020 should be ruled out, and that this should be replaced with investment in gas CCS and other low carbon technologies. We are making the recommendation now given the need to move forward with the second CCS competition and to promote debate around proposed new energy legislation.”