If there’s going to be a Scottish coal plant by 2030, it’ll need CCS

The government of Scotland on March 5 issued a new report that said Scotland should emphasize carbon capture and storage (CCS) installations on coal-fired power plants, as part of a target of meeting of “decarbonising” electric generation in Scotland by 2030.

Renewable generation will be backed up with thermal generation progressively fitted with CCS – ensuring Scotland’s future electricity needs can be met without the need for new nuclear power stations, said the report, called The Electricity Generation Policy Statement (EGPS). The report sets out the Scottish government’s plans for renewable energy and fossil fuel thermal generation in Scotland’s future energy mix. The report is based on research studies looking at future energy supply, storage and demand. Public comment is being taken on the report until June 4.

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “This report shows that the Scottish Government’s target to generate the equivalent of 100 per cent of our electricity needs from renewables, as well as more from other sources, is achievable. We know there is doubt and scepticism about our 100 per cent renewables target, and the financial and engineering challenges required to meet it. But we will meet these challenges. I want to debate, engage and co-operate with every knowledgeable, interested and concerned party to ensure we achieve our goals.”

Ian Marchant, Chief Executive of power generator SSE, said, as quoted in a government statement on the new report: “SSE welcomes the Scottish government’s electricity generation policy statement. With energy supply now a global issue, it is vital that the policy objectives adopted at Scottish, UK and EU level are consistent. With its focus on energy security, affordability and decarbonisation, this policy statement underlines the extent to which policy objectives are consistent, and it is very encouraging that this should be the case.”

Keith Anderson, ScottishPower’s Chief Corporate Officer and CEO of ScottishPower Renewables, said: “ScottishPower supports the commitment to increase low carbon electricity generation in Scotland and we welcome the clarity outlined in the Scottish Government’s policy statement. We are making significant investments in large scale renewable energy projects including new wind, wave and tidal power. This investment is critical in order to help Scotland achieve its renewable energy targets and will be a catalyst for economic growth and job creation.”

The report said a target is for the equivalent of at least 100% of gross electricity consumption from renewables by 2020 as part of a wider, balanced electricity mix, with thermal generation playing an important role though a minimum of 2.5 GW of thermal generation progressively fitted with CCS. The idea is to demonstrate CCS at commercial scale in Scotland by 2020, with full retrofit across conventional power stations by 2025-30.

“There are several options for replacing the nuclear and fossil fuel generating capacity which is due to retire over the coming decade with Carbon Capture and Storage, and renewable,” said the report. “The Scottish government’s policy is clear – alongside actions to reduce demand for energy, we want to see both a rapid expansion of renewable electricity across Scotland and new or upgraded and efficient thermal capacity, with commitment to recover waste heat and progressively fitted with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). We believe that all of Scotland’s future energy needs can be met without the need for new nuclear power stations and that existing nuclear power stations should be phased out as they reach the end of their safe operating lives.”

The market will continue to bring forward proposals for new or upgraded thermal generation capacity in Scotland, as has recently been seen with the consent under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 for a new efficient combined cycle gas turbine at Cockenzie, said the report. ScottishPower has indicated that the current coal power station at Cockenzie is reaching the end of its operational life and has to close by the end of 2015. In the meantime, ScottishPower will carry out further development work on the plans for a Cockenzie gas station. Scottish ministers are also currently considering an application for consent for a new multi-fueled (clean-coal and biomass) development at Hunterston, the report added.

“The Scottish government has never intended to support unabated new coal plants in Scotland, as this would be wholly inconsistent with our climate change objectives,” the report said. “We have made it absolutely clear that any new power station in Scotland must be fitted with a minimum CCS on 300 MWe of its generation from day one of operation. CCS can potentially reduce emissions from fossil fuel power stations by up to 90% and will be a vital part of our commitment  to decarbonise electricity generation by 2030.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.