A future that curbs emissions from new coal fired power stations, and will see the UK lead the world in the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, was proposed by Ed Miliband this week.
Setting the UK at the forefront of the global race to decarbonise fossil fuels, he set out to Parliament proposals for the basis on which coal fired power which will be permitted in the future:
* No new coal without CCS demonstration from day one. Alongside the government's ongoing competition to build a post-combustion demonstrator, up to three further projects including pre-combustion technology, will be funded by a new levy mechanism.
* Full scale retrofit of CCS within five years of the technology being independently judged as technically and commercially proven. The government predicts an important role for the Environment Agency in making an independent judgement of when the standard is met.
The government will also seek views on whether it is possible to implement these conditions through an emissions performance standard.
These proposals form part of a consultation that will be released in the summer, alongside an environmental report.
Ed Miliband said: "The future of coal in our energy mix poses the starkest dilemma we face: it is a polluting fuel but is used across the world because it is cheap and it is flexible enough to meet fluctuations in demand for power.
"In order to ensure that we maintain a diverse energy mix, we need new coal-fired power stations but only if they can be part of a low carbon future.
"With a solution to the problem of coal, we greatly increase our chances of stopping dangerous climate change. Without it we will not succeed.
"CCS is the only technology with the potential to reduce emissions from fossil fuels by up to 90%. But there must be a global effort to develop this technology and the UK is in a strong position to lead this charge.
"This signals the era of unabated coal is coming to an end, and a new low carbon future for coal with CCS can begin. There is no alternative to CCS if we are serious about fighting climate change and retaining a diverse mix of energy sources for our economy."
The Government has also published its response to last year's consultation ‘Towards Carbon Capture and Storage', which sets out its approach to carbon capture readiness. This will apply to all new gas, oil, biomass, waste-to-energy and also coal power station applications on or above 300MW. The Government will only consider applications if they:
* Confirm sufficient space available to retrofit CCS
* Identify a suitable potential offshore area to store carbon dioxide
* Map a feasible potential transport route from the power station to the storage area
* Do not have foreseeable barriers to retrofitting CCS.
Together, these criteria will prove a power station is ‘carbon capture ready'.