Monday, September 12, 2011

New rules in Canada would block building of coal-fired power plants without carbon capture

The Canadain government is considering new regulations for coal-fired power plants that will require plants "to emit roughly the same greenhouse gases as natural gas generators," Christa Marshall of ClimateWire reports. The 2020 goal is to have emission rates 17 percent below the 2005 levels, Environment Minister Peter Kent said in a ceremony in Saskatchewan. Coal fuels about 17 percent of Canada's electricity and is responsible for about 13 percent of the country's greenhouse gases.

The new rules, which should take effect in 2015, will require companies constructing new plants to invest in new carbon-capture technologies or avoid coal altogether. Emissions will be limited to 375 metric tons of carbon dioxide per gigawatt of electricity. Analysts say the only way to achieve that level is "with yet-to-be commercialized technology," Marshall writes.

Most of the nation's coal plants would remain in operation past 2020, which has many environmentalists upset. "About two-thirds of current plants would not have to meet the standard until after 2020, and nine would operate past 2030 without constraint", Pembina Institute, an environmental think tank reports. This "would do little initially for climate change," Tim Weis, an analyst at Pembina told Marshall. (Read more; subscription may be required)

The 60-day public comment period will close late next month, but Kent told Rebecca Penty of the Calgary Herald, he does not expect the any substantial changes. (Read more)

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