RWE npower has provisionally nominated seven of its UK electricity plants with about 3GW of capacity for the limited-life option under forthcoming European legislation, which will restrict their running hours from 2016 to 2023.
The EU-mandated industrial emissions directive (IED) comes into force from 2016, taking the place of the large combustion plant directive (LCPD), which ends in 2015. Under the IED, older-generation plants must opt in and pay for retrofitting to meet tighter SO2, NOx and particulate matter emission standards, or opt out.
Power stations selecting to opt out, or enter the limited life derogation (LLD), can operate for a maximum of 17,500 hours from 1 January 2016 or until the end of 2023, whichever comes first.
The Big Six utility has provisionally picked seven plants to opt out, including the 1.55GW Aberthaw coal-fired plant and modules 5 and 6 of the 1.4GW gas-fired Didcot B plant. Four small combined heat and power (CHP) plants are also opting out, including the 40MW Cheshire CHP; the 40MW Conoco Phillips CHP; the 13MW Grimsby CHP; and Hythe CHP, with an installed capacity of 50MW.
RWE stated that a final decision on the issue will not be made before the end of 2015, and the matter would be regularly reviewed, as the department for environment, food and rural affairs (Defra) has given plant operators until the end of 2015 to withdraw plants from the LLD before the final list is given to the European Commission.
RWE npower’s UK generation managing director for UK generation Kevin Nix said that RWE would be able to make a final decision on the plants “only once we have political clarity on how the energy market will operate under the Government’s new energy legislation, as well as under other political changes to be enacted”.
Until now, most of the 20GW of UK capacity subject to the IED was expected to opt out due to the UK’s carbon floor price – a top-up tax that generators must pay on top of the price of emissions ( see EDEM 15 May 2013 ).
Last year, Federico Ferrario, associate director of consultancy IHS CERA, forecast that power plants opting out of the IED would consume most of their available hours early. This is a trend that has occurred with most of the UK plants that opted out of the LCPD. Henry Evans