Key vote to ban dirty coal coming Tuesday

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Bellona has been closely engaged in elaborating and promoting proposals that will lead to a de facto moratorium on new unabated (not equipped for CO2 capture and storage- CCS) coal-fired power plants in the EU. This can be done through two proposed EU directives: A directive on geological storage of CO2 and one on the EU emission trading system (ETS) for greenhouse gases.

Ban on new conventional coal plants
The Parliament’s rapporteur on the CO2 storage directive, Chris Davies (UK, LibDem), along with colleagues across the political spectrum, has proposed that the directive comprise an emission ceiling (formally called an “emission performance standard”) for CO2 that can be emitted per kilowatt-hour produced by new power plants. This ceiling could end up at 350 or 500 grams/kWh, depending on the environment committee vote. In both cases, the practical effect will be to ban new coal-fired power plants that do not capture and store CO2 emissions or do not combine heat and power production (CHP).

“We do not yet know how the committee will vote on this proposal, but it is in any case remarkable that the EU is seriously considering a de facto ban on unabated coal-fired power plants. Such a ban will be crucial in combating global warming,” said Paal Frisvold, chairman of Bellona Europa.

Funding the first CCS plants

While the emission performance standard acts as a regulatory “stick” against dirty coal, Bellona believes a “carrot” for CCS needs to be put in place in parallel in order to show coal-dependent Member States that they can use some of their coal resources while staying below the emission ceiling.

Under the ETS directive, Bellona has promoted a proposal to use some of the emission allowances (about 3 percent of allowances between 2013 and 2020) to co-finance 10-12 full-scale CCS plants that EU heads of state and government have committed to getting built by 2015. The technology is ready – but the funding is lacking.

“France, UK and Finland have already supported this proposal. We are excited about the outcome on Tuesday,” Frisvold said.

After the environment committee vote, the proposed directives will be discussed by EU governments in the Council. A final agreement on the directives is expected by the end of the year. 

Bellona is part of the European Technology Platform for Zero-Emission Fossil Fuel Power Plants (ZEP), which plays an important advisory role on CCS in the EU. Bellona is also amongst the founding members of the CCS Leadership Group, a smaller coalition to co-ordinate political advocacy against unabated coal and in favour of CCS.