Emissions Performance Standard for Fossil Fuel Plant
I`ve just noticed that the Tories and Lib Dem's are supporting an Emissions Performance Standard in the current energy bill. An emissions performance standard is basically a limit on how pollouting a given application can be; in this case we are talking about power plants but similar regulations can be placed on cars or other vehicles.
In the case of Cars there does seem to be a certain sense to limiting the emissions of the most polluting cars. For me the key point is everyone playing their part. I don't think people are encouraged to buy efficient cars if sports cars and big four wheel drive vehicles getting 10mpg are used on the same roads. Why bother? Of course in Europe we have been persuaded to accept feet wide averages from car manufacturers so they can have both very polluting and very efficient cars.
Now emissions performance standards for the UK's generation fleet are being proposed but whilst i would support this for cars, i`m less sure for the generating network. The reason is intermittency. Renewables don't supply a constant level of power and some periods of high demand correspond with periods of low wind supply. Because we are dealing with rare events (very low wind and very high demand) actually running plants at these times produces very small amounts of polloution even if we are talking about unabated coal. So the key priority is having this capacity available at low cost.
A EPS for all new plant would make sense; the lib dem proposal is somewhat arbitarily linked to coal. An EPS for all existing plant would possibly be very costly. I`m all for getting coal out of our generating mix but this is most economically done by reducing the hours per year that they can work. This way they can still perform a valuable emergency service in the future whilst not significantly impacting carbon reduction goals.
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