* Government guarantees 450 g/kWh carbon limit until 2045
* Electricity reform to pass through Parliament in May
* Gas plants to play vital role in providing backup capacity
By Karolin Schaps
LONDON, March 17 Britain's energy minister
promised on Saturday to keep the limit on power plants' carbon
emissions high enough until 2045 to ensure that modern gas-fired
stations can continue to operate.
The government will submit its full proposals to reform
Britain's electricity market to Parliament in May, marking the
first step to enshrine the deepest overhaul of the market in 30
years into law.
The previous draft had proposed that the limit on carbon
emissions allowed per plant would be reviewed over time.
Developers of gas-fired plants were concerned their power
stations could be scrapped if the limit was reduced below a
level they could meet.
UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey
guaranteed that a proposed level of 450g of carbon per
kilowatt-hour (g/kWh) of electricity would be maintained until
State-of-the-art gas plants emit less than 400 g/kWh, while
coal-fired plants without carbon-capture technology emit nearly
"This announcement by government removes a potential
uncertainty for gas-fired generation, providing clarity around
investment and lending decisions," said Mark Somerset, vice
president of InterGen Europe, which plans to build two new
gas-fired power plants in Britain.
Its new 800 megawatt combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT)
projects at Spalding in Lincolnshire and on the Thames Gateway
in Essex are also planned to be carbon-capture ready, meaning
they can be retrofitted with the technology in future.
"Gas will continue to play a vital role in a low-carbon
economy. Modern gas-fired power stations are relatively quick to
build and twice as clean as many of the coal plants they're
replacing," Davey said in a statement.
The reform proposals also foresee an important role for gas
plants in providing backup capacity alongside intermittent
renewable energy production under a so-called capacity
"A fifth of the UK's ageing fleet of power stations will
close this decade, and it's not possible to fill that gap
entirely with low-carbon alternatives in that timescale," Davey
Gas plant operators will be able to take part in competitive
auctions to provide backup capacity for a certain year and
receive payments for making power plants available when needed.
The minister will also publish a strategy for Britain's gas
market this autumn, detailing whether the government needs to
intervene in the market to guarantee security of supply and
investments in new gas-fired power plants.
The proposals will be based on gas and electricity market
reports expected to be published by energy regulator Ofgem by
(editing by Jane Baird)