Friday, 7 October 2011

Coal plan legal challenge fails

Coal plan legal challenge fails
A legal challenge to plans for a new coal fired power station in the Ayrshire coast has been rejected. The challenge regarded the national planning framework that defined a need for a power station, which effectively means that planning permission can not be rejected by the local planning department. In reality, all that the local planners can do is attach conditions to that permission.

There are other, better ways of reducing our emissions such that we wouldn't need this power station but it is hard to make profit from them and our politicians don't want to be on duty when the lights go out.

The proposal does talk of carbon capture and storage as part of the scheme but, unfortunately, it is surrounded by weasel words - "if that technology can be proven". Given the burden of proof for climate change and the fact that CCS has not been attempted at full scale, and recent developments at Longannet cast doubt on whether it can be proven in the necessary timescale. I'm not a huge fan of carbon capture and storage as a solution to the problem of discharging climate changing gases as a lot of energy is likely to be used to develop the storage solutions and to transport the gases to appropriate storage locations. More on this later.

From a logistical perspective, the site is not too bad for a power station - located between the coal terminal and a nuclear power station it is well placed for fuel delivery and electricity export infrastructure. The coal won't need to be hauled across the country as is currently done for Longannet.

If the development does go ahead, I believe that the following requirements are essential:

  • carbon sequestration is integral to the scheme - despite my misgivings, it is better than nothing;
  • the power station should be capable of taking waste organic material as part of the fuel mix, e.g. forestry waste, non-recyclable domestic waste, etc;
  • the emissions are clean and safe - no sulphur, dioxins etc, especially when mixed fuels are used;
  • it is designed to the highest achievable efficiency standards and that fuel consumption can be reduced when oputput is reduced;
  • serious consideration is given to exporting waste heat to the local town of Fairlie;
  • cooling waters are not allowed to cause thermal pollution of the sea; 
  • waste materials are managed on site or re-used
  • there is no increase in road traffic as a result of operating the power station.
I'm sure there are many other issues, but that's enough to get started.




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