Huge sulphur cuts in store for UK power plants

60% fall in emissions planned through incentives for generators to fit flue-gas desulphurisation

Emissions limits for sulphur dioxide (SO2) from oil and coal-fired power plants in England and Wales will be cut by 60% under plans announced yesterday. The cuts are to be achieved by introducing incentives for operators to invest in cleaner plant technology. New limits on SO2, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter set by the England and Wales environment agency will reduce SO2 emissions from the plants to 398,000 tonnes by 2005, compared with around 980,000 tonnes now. The cuts are intended to help achieve targets in the UK's air quality strategy (ENDS Daily 13 January). The main instrument for achieving the cuts will be a series of requirements and incentives for electricity generators to prefer the operation of plants fitted with flue-gas desulphurisation (FGD) equipment over those without it. Under the scheme, companies will be allocated an emissions "bubble" for all the plants in their ownership. Generators will be required to run FGD plants ahead of non-FGD plants, and companies increasing their share of the electricity market will be allowed "flexibility" to increase their emissions limit allocation, provided that they run their FGD plants at twice the level of their non-FGD plants. The overall emissions limit will thus automatically fall, the agency says. Companies upgrading plants to FGD standards will also receive temporary increases in their emissions limits while construction is carried out.

Follow Up:
Environment Agency of England and Wales, tel: +44 1454 624 400. References: Agency press release.

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