photo: The Writing Zone via flickr.
The UK government has announced new regulations that prohibit building any new coal power plants, if those plants don't have carbon capture and storage incorporated into them. It sounds like at least a step in the right direction—though Cleantech points out that it's not expected to really deter new power plants—but when you look at it isn't nearly as large a step as it might seem:The mandate (already in effect) says that CCS is required for at least 400 MW of output from a new coal power plant. By 2025 that would expand to 100% of a plant's emissions. And here's the big but... The requirement to capture all of the emissions would only be in place, provided that the technology is at a stage where it could capture all of the emissions.
Call me cynical, but that seems like a loophole big enough to drive several coal trains through. Since the financials of CCS, when deployed at the gargantuan scale required to capture all of coal's emissions, are sketchy at best, you could easily have new coal power plants capturing only a third of their emissions (which is better than none of them, but still a blow to slowing climate change in many ways) and throwing in the proverbial towel on trying to capture more.
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