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U.K. Tackles New Dirty Coal Plants, Goes Nuclear

The U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change has announced a policy that would ban new coal-fired power plants without carbon capture and storage (CCS).

New plants would be required to capture and store CO2 equal to at least 300 megawatts of CO2 emissions from the day they go online, and would be expected to capture all their CO2 emissions by 2025. For comparison, the climate bill that passed out of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee last week requires only 60 percent capture and storage by 2025 for new plants. Government-subsidized demonstration projects in the U.K. will cost at least £10 billion ($16.76 billion).

That’s quite an investment in coal that will not be spent on renewables. The energy plan also calls for 10 additional nuclear power plants to be built largely on sites where nuclear plants already exist, a part of the proposal that was met by skepticism from green campaigners.

“You can't justify building more nuclear power stations when there is no solution to radioactive waste and when international regulators are saying there are huge uncertainties surrounding the basic safety of new reactor designs,” said Ben Ayliffe, from Greenpeace.

There is also the issue of whether investing in coal and nuclear delivers the best bang-for-the-buck in terms of jobs and economic benefits. As former President Bill Clinton pointed out in Roll Call this week:

According to the Earth Policy Institute, every $1 billion we invest in coal-fired power plants creates 870 jobs while the same investment in photovoltaic cells creates 1,800 jobs; in solar thermal plants, 1,900 jobs; in wind energy, 3,300 jobs; and in building retrofits, 7,000 jobs.

Tags:  coal

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