New inquiry: Emissions Performance Standards

Power station
21 July 2010

Coal is one of the cheapest fossil fuels, but also one of the most polluting, and currently generates around a third of the UK’s electricity. The Coalition Government has announced plans to introduce an EPS for coal-fired power stations, which may be included in the Energy Bill 2010. An EPS is a restriction on the amount of carbon dioxide that can be emitted from power stations. In practice, an EPS would prevent new coal-fired power stations being constructed unless they were equipped with sufficient carbon capture and storage (CCS) facilities. Furthermore, it is hoped that it would encourage electricity suppliers to invest in low-carbon generation. Finally, the introduction of an EPS could demonstrate UK leadership on reducing emissions, which may help negotiations at the UN summit in Cancun this year.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has advised the Government to seriously consider expanding plans for an EPS to require gas power stations built after 2020 to include CCS. Analysis by the CCC shows that in order for the UK to meet its 2050 target of reducing emissions by 80%, the country will be required to have a largely decarbonised power sector by 2030. While the CCC acknowledges that investment in conventional gas power stations over the next decade is necessary to maintain security of supply, the 2050 target leaves limited scope for such investment beyond 2020.

A recent report commissioned for DECC suggested that gas power stations fitted with CCS (even first of a kind technology) could potentially become competitive with other low-carbon technologies such as offshore wind. Given this evidence, and the need to decarbonise the power sector by 2030, the CCC also suggest that the Government fund one carbon capture demonstration on a gas power station as part of their commitment to fund a total of four.

The Committee wants to find out about the implications of emissions performance standards on energy markets and future investments, and whether they could encourage the deployment of CCS technologies.  The Committee is also interested in the role to be played by UK emissions performance standards in international negotiations on climate change.

Respondents are free to comment on any issues they consider relevant, although the Committee particularly welcomes evidence addressing the effectiveness (or otherwise) of:

  1. What are the factors that ought to be considered in setting the level for an Emissions Performance Standard (EPS) and what would be an appropriate level for the UK? Should the level be changed over time?
  2. What benefit would an EPS bring beyond the emissions reductions already set to take place under the EU ETS?
  3. How effective is an EPS likely to be in driving forward the development of CCS technology? Should the UK’s CCS demonstration programme cover gas-fired as well as coal-fired power stations?
  4. Could the introduction of an EPS pose any risks to the UK’s long-term agendas on energy security and climate change?
  5. What is the likely impact of an EPS on domestic energy prices?
  6. Are any other European countries considering an EPS? If so, should the standards be harmonized?
  7. Could unilateral action by the UK to introduce an EPS contribute towards global climate negotiations in Cancun in November 2010?
  8. Can greater use of Emissions Performances Standards internationally help promote agreement on global efforts to address climate change?

The deadline for the submission of written evidence is Monday 6 September 2010.



Written evidence should be in Word or rich text format- not PDF format- and sent by e-mail to with the subject “EPS submission”. The body of the e-mail must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The e-mail should also make clear who the submission is from. Hard copy submissions should be sent to: The Clerk, Energy and Climate Change Committee, 7 Millbank, London, SW1P 3JA. The deadline is Monday 6 September 2010. As a guideline submissions should be no longer than 3000 words. However, please contact the Committee staff if you wish to discuss this matter.

Submissions should be in the format of a self-contained memorandum. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and the document should, if possible, include an executive summary. Further guidance on the submission of evidence can be found at

Submissions should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere. Once submitted, your submission becomes the property of the Committee and no public use should be made of it unless you have first obtained permission from the Clerk of the Committee. Please bear in mind that Committees are not able to investigate individual cases.

The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to publish the written evidence it receives, either by printing the evidence, publishing it on the internet or by making it publicly available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure; the Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.

For data protection purposes, it would be helpful if individuals wishing to submit written evidence send their contact details in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.



Committee Membership is as follows:

Mr Tim Yeo MP, Conservative, South Suffolk
Dan Byles MP, Conservative, North Warwickshire
Gemma Doyle MP, Labour/Co-operative, West Dunbartonshire
Tom Greatrex MP, Labour, Rutherglen and Hamilton West
Dr Philip Lee MP, Conservative, Bracknell
Albert Owen MP, Labour, Ynys Môn
Christopher Pincher MP, Conservative, Tamworth
John Robertson MP, Labour, Glasgow North West
Laura Sandys MP, Conservative, South Thanet
Sir Robert Smith MP, Liberal Democrat, West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine
Dr Alan Whitehead MP, Labour, Southampton Test

More information can be found on the Committee website at:

Media Enquiries: Nick Davies, Tel: 020 7219 3297, e-mail:

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