Euro MPs have dealt a blow to plans for a new generation of coal-fired power stations after voting for tough curbs to reduce their emissions.
The MEPs want to force energy companies to fit expensive equipment to trap the emissions, the limit of which is the same as that set by California – 500 grams of CO2 per kilowatt/hour. Anti-coal campaigners in the US claim this has effectively outlawed coal power being sold to the state.
However the committee also voted for a €10bn (£7.8bn) fund to pay for trials of the carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, which could trap most emissions. This could enable some coal stations to be built, using the EU funds to pay for the massive expected costs of CCS.
The amendments to the draft Directive on Geological Storage of Carbon Dioxide still have to pass at least two further levels. One is the European council of environment ministers, where there is likely to be strong lobbying by some states, including coal-rich Poland. But environment campaigners hailed the decision as a “huge development”.
Development charity Oxfam said the new emissions performance standard, which would apply to all power stations from 2015, would “rule out” plans for the first new coal plant for a generation in the UK, proposed by E.ON at Kingsnorth in Kent.
And Greenpeace executive director, John Sauven, said: “Emissions performance standards have already worked to stop new coal-fired power stations in California, and it’s a welcome development that Europe is adopting a similar principle here. If this European proposal becomes law, E.ON’s plans for a new plant at Kingsnorth would not be able to go ahead in their current form.”