Decarbonisation amendment tabled to the UK Energy Bill


Conservative MP Tim Yeo tabled an amendment which would force electricity companies to remove any coal or gas-fired power plants from their networks by 2030 unless they are fitted with CO2 capture equipment, The Guardian reported on 8 February.

The amendment proposes a limit on the amount of CO2 that can be emitted for every kWh of electricity and states that ‘the decarbonisation level must  not exceed the level deemed consistent with a low-carbon trajectory as advised by the Committee on Climate Change’.  

The Committee on Climate Change, the government’s statutory advisor, has called on the electricity sector before to limit the emissions to 50g of CO2 per kilowatt hour by 2030. Such a target is regarded as an equivalent to decarbonisation, since it would impose a requirement to capture and store the CO2 generated even on gas-fired power generation.  

bodytextimage_Conservative-MP-Tim-Yeo-010.jpg Photo: Tory MP Tim Yeo /The Guardian

The amendment was co-sponsored by Barry Gardiner, the MP from the Labour Party. The party is expected to support it, since its leader, Ed Miliband, is a strong proponent of a decarbonisation target by 2030.

On 29 January the Labour Party introduced an amendment which would impose an obligation to limit annual CO2 emissions from new gas-fired power generation to 200g per kilowatt hour.

The original Energy Bill proposal states that all new coal-fired power stations must have a proportion of their capacity equipped with CO2 capture and storage infrastructure. The preferred policy option would be an annual limit on the amount of COa plant can emit, equivalent to 450gCO2/KWh for a plant operating at base load. 

Such a limit has been criticised by the coal industry ever since the Bill was published on 29 November 2012. ‘The UK’s emissions performance standard (EPS) will simply allow the construction of unabated natural gas plants, while prohibiting the construction of coal plants’ said Milton Catelin, the CEO of the World Coal Association. ‘It does not incentivise the deployment of high-efficiency low-emission coal-fired power plants, which are a necessary milestone towards CCS. CCS is needed on all fossil fuels – gas as well as coal. Unabated gas is not a solution to climate change’ he explained further, The Guardian reported.

The Energy Bill is expected to be under Committee scrutiny until mid-February, and is likely to reach the reporting stage in March before reaching the House of Lords.

Follow the legislative process of the UK Energy Bill here.