An EPS establishes a maximum level of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, or CO2 equivalent, per unit of output from an electricity-generating power plant.
In a letter where Mr Huhne responds to The Guardian’s article entitled “Dirtiest coal power plants win reprieve”, he explains that the government is by no means “watering down” its commitment to an EPS.
Last month Mr Huhne said it would consult on a number of issues related to electricity market reform, including an EPS, and make proposals in a white paper in spring 2011.
“This Government has committed to introducing an Emissions Performance Standard. […] The view that [the white paper not being published until spring 2011] might raise the possibility of new coal-fired power stations “slipping through the system” is ludicrous”, reads the letter.
Many experts and organizations – including Bellona – argue that the current depressed carbon price make additional incentives such as an EPS necessary for CCS. An EPS would act as the regulatory incentive for the private sector to make the much-needed wide-scale investments in CCS in the short term.