GDF and E.ON to clean up coal-fired capacity as Eggborough nears closure
Two of the UK’s Big Eight power generators have signalled an intent to meet upcoming EU emissions regulations and continue operating their coal-fired power stations beyond 2023.
Both GDF Suez and E.ON have refrained from choosing the Limited Life Derogation (LLD) option for their coal-fired power generation capacity, meaning they are now committed to complying with the EU’s Industrial Emissions Directive (IED). The deadline for choosing the LLD option was 31 December 2013.
The IED comes into effect at the start of 2016 and compels plant operators to install abatement technology to reduce emissions from the combustion of carbon-based fuels.
GDF has opted its 1,030 MW Rugeley plant – its only coal fired power station in the UK – in to the UK government’s Transitional National Plan (TNP), a spokeswoman said.
Plants entered into the TNP are exempt from IED emissions limits until June 2020 although they will still be forced to operate within an emissions ceiling determined on a case-by-case basis.
E.ON also confirmed last week that it has committed to complying with emissions regulations for its entire coal plant portfolio, which totals almost 5GW of generating capacity.
“We have not sought any Limited Life Derogations from Defra with regard to the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED),” a spokeswoman confirmed. However, she could not specify whether the company was entering its plants into the TNP or looking to comply with the IED by the start of 2016.
GDF and E.ON’s strategy is in contrast to other UK coal-fired power generators. The prospect of Eggborough Power closing all units at its 2GW coal-fired station by the end of 2015 appears increasingly likely, with one of its 500MW units already confirmed to come offline permanently this September.
At the end of last year, Eggborough’s management said it believed the plant would no longer be supplying power to the grid beyond 2015 after failing to make the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s provisional affordability list of projects for its biomass conversion plan, which was entered into the final investment decision enabling process.
The power station, which was not entered into the LLD, has no plans to continue burning coal beyond 2015 because its management do not view it as an economically viable option.
Last week, Eggborough chief operating officer Paul Tomlinson said in a statement that “subsequent conversations with government on the methodology and application of the selection criteria have unfortunately not clarified our understanding of the outcome.”
A spokeswoman added on Monday that there is “not a lot of time left” for the power station’s future to be retrieved. “The longer this goes on, the harder it is to reverse these things,” she said.
Others of the UK’s Big Eight generators have chosen the LLD option for part or all of their coal-fired capacity, indicating their intention to shut down plants by the end of 2023 at the latest. Henry Evans
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