Consultation on a Framework for the Development of Clean Coal

The UK government launched this consultation on a new policy for CCS in order to: accelerate CCS development; support financial investments in the technology; deliver a low carbon energy mix; and stimulate economic growth and the job market.

This policy sets out a programme to fund 4 commercial-scale CCS demonstration projects in the UK. These will include the demonstration project selected as a result of the competition launched in 2007 (see UK CCS Demonstration Competition). However, while the project selected under the 2007 competition will receive public funding, further projects will be supported by means of a new CCS-specific financial incentive. The government set the legal basis for such a financial incentive in the Energy Act 2010. The incentive will be collected through a levy on electricity suppliers.

Under this policy, any new coal-fired power station to be built in England and Wales will be required to demonstrate the full-chain CCS (i.e. capture, transport and storage) at commercial scale for at least 300 MW of its electricity generation capacity. Following the consultation, this requirement was extended to existing power stations that are upgraded to supercritical technology. This policy has been effective since November 2009.

The government's expectation is to complete the demonstration phase by 2020, when the technology is hoped to be ready for wider deployment. From 2020 onwards, new coal power stations are expected to be fitted with CCS 'from day one' and all power stations retrofitted with CCS by 2025, if CCS is proven to be technically and economically feasible.

This test will be conducted by means of a rolling review process to be concluded by 2018. The government will be responsible for this test with support from the Environment Agency, the Climate Change Committee and other experts. This will help to achieve a long term transition to clean coal. If CCS is not proven to be technically and economically feasible, the review process will suggest an alternative strategy to reduce CO2 emissions.

Any new power station must obtain development consent from the Secretary of State under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989. This requirement will be changed in favour of consent from the newly established Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) under the Planning Act 2008.

In the light of this requirement, the government launched another consultation on supplementary draft guidance for application under Section 36 (see Consultation on Draft Supplementary Guidance for Section 36 Applications: New Coal Power Stations).

The Framework for the Development of Clean Coal also stressed the role of the Environment Agency. The consultation was accompanied with an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the new policy, the latter in accordance with the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004 (Statutory Instrument N 1633 of 20 July 2004) which transposed the EU Strategic Environmental Assessment (Directive 2001/42/EC) into UK law.

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