Old king coal's controversial comeback
PLANS were announced yesterday for the first new conventional power station in Scotland for almost three decades.
The coal-fired plant, which could cost up to 2 billion, is being planned for a site next to Hunterston B, the Ayrshire nuclear power station scheduled for shutdown in 2011.
The 1,600MW station would be able to power two million homes and could be switched on within ten years.
However, the idea has been met with outrage among environment groups, who say it would result in huge amounts of damaging emissions being released into the atmosphere.
Danish firm Dong Energy and Peel Energy, a sister company of Clydeport, which also operates the Hunterston port, are behind the proposal.
The station would mainly be powered by coal, but could use up to 15 per cent biomass – products from forestry and farming.
Owen Michaelson, chairman of Peel Energy, said the site would be ideal as it already handles a large proportion of Scotland's imported coal, which would avoid the need to transport it across the country.
He added: "Scotland is facing a severe shortfall in electricity as demand continues to grow and old coal and nuclear power stations are decommissioned over the next decade."
The plans follow an announcement two days ago by the Scottish Government that it is planning to demand new power stations are ready to incorporate technology that captures carbon, which can prevent up to 90 per cent of damaging gas being released.
Dong and Peel Energy say they will be ready to use carbon capture and storage at the earliest opportunity.
However, campaigners argue new plants should not just be "capture ready", but should implement capture and storage technology from the outset.
Duncan McLaren, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "No new coal-fired power station should be approved by the Scottish Government unless it operates carbon capture from day one, or meets an equivalent, tough emissions performance standard by other means.
"The idea of 'capture readiness' is a dangerous smokescreen, which requires little more than that land be set aside for the kit to be added at a later date, without any guarantee that it will ever actually be installed and operated."
Dr Richard Dixon, director of WWF Scotland, added that the focus should be on renewables, rather than "wasting time" on new coal-fired power stations.
Energy minister Jim Mather said any application would be treated on its merits, and added that new coal-fired power stations have "a long-term future in Scotland".
THERE are just four conventional power plants left in Scotland, and the Scottish Government has ruled out any new nuclear facilities.
ScottishPower has two coal-burning plants by the Forth. Longannet is having its life extended with upgraded equipment allowing for cleaner burning, along with an investigation into its carbon-capture potential, while the future of Cockenzie in East Lothian is under review.
Of the two remaining nuclear power plants in Scotland, Hunterston B is scheduled for shut-down in 2011 and Torness in East Lothian should keep running until 2023.
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