Wednesday, May 12, 2010

the coalition on CCS

What do certain sloggers make of this extract from our new government's new manifesto?

• The establishment of an emissions performance standard that will prevent coal-fired power stations being built unless they are equipped with sufficient CCS to meet the emissions performance standard

• Continuation of the present government's proposals for public sector investment in CCS technology for four coal-fired power stations; and a specific commitment to reduce central government carbon emissions by 10% within 12 months.

We are agreed that we would seek to increase the target for energy from renewable sources, subject to the advice of the climate change committee.

Liberal Democrats have long opposed any new nuclear construction. Conservatives, by contrast, are committed to allowing the replacement of existing nuclear power stations provided they are subject to the normal planning process for major projects (under a new national planning statement) and provided also that they receive no public subsidy.

We have agreed a process that will allow Liberal Democrats to maintain their opposition to nuclear power while permitting the government to bring forward the national planning statement for ratification by parliament so that new nuclear construction becomes possible.

This process will involve:

• The government completing the drafting of a national planning statement and putting it before parliament

• Specific agreement that a Liberal Democrat spokesman will speak against the planning statement, but that Liberal Democrat MPs will abstain; and clarity that this will not be regarded as an issue of confidence.

My questions: is this wildly different to current policy? And what on earth do the last paragraphs mean in practical terms??



Gareth said...

What's the difference on their CCS stance? Firstly there's still a commitment to build 4 demonstrations, no change. The emissions performance standard bit is new and could be a step above the "No new Coal without CCS" commitment Labour made for new (coal) power stations back in 2009. However, it obviously depends on what the standard is, when it is introduced and may simply incentivise gas power station building over coal (much less GHG intensive), which gets us nowhere nearer deploying coal CCS at scale. The latter is obviously more directly addressed with the Labour approach, as by 2025 all plants were expected to have full scale CCS, and new plants would have to at least demonstrate it. For me, Coal CCS (~90% CO2 reduction) is better than switching to gas (~30-40% CO2 reduction) and thus I prefer the Labour approach. However, if you think we can get away without using coal and use gas until we can switch to renewables then the EPS approach might be the better option.
As for the last few grafs it seems to me to be a get-out clause for the Lib Dems to oppose nuclear without causing the government to fall and trigger a confidence vote. I'm actually with the Tories on this though as I think a blanket ban on nuclear is both naive and actually impossible if we want stable electricity at increased demand levels over the next few decades without GHG emissions (CCS might play a role here too though). Of course, if we want to accept intermittent supply, or we want less electricity, then throw out the base-load generators and rely on wind...

Gareth said...

George's take: