A plan to build a controversial $4.7 billion coal-fired power plant in Scotland’s Ayrshire County that would have been fitted with experimental carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology was last week thrown out by the North Ayrshire Council, and citizens lodged more than 20,000 objections with the legislative body.

Ayrshire Power, which is owned by Peel Energy, had proposed to build the 1,852-MW coal plant in Hunterston, arguing it would represent a major economic opportunity for Scotland and fill a gap in the region’s future electricity supply.

The council’s objection to the plant now puts the decision to allow developers to proceed with the project in the Scottish government’s hands. The Scottish government has adopted a policy to generate 100% of its power from renewables by 2020. It is expected to hold a public comment period before deciding whether to approve the plan.

Ayrshire Power had submitted its proposals to the Scottish government’s Energy Consents and Deployment Unit in June 2010. Since then, it had formed a consortium to advance the CCS elements of the plant’s development with partners that included Doosan Power Systems, Fluor Limited, and Petrofac. A company bid for EU support for the CCS elements of the project had also passed the first round of the EU’s NER 300 demonstration CCS competition. An announcement on successful applicants is expected in late 2012.

Ayrshire Power’s project manager, Mike Claydon, said in a statement that, “While we are disappointed at the outcome, it is not unexpected, and we remain determined to progress our application through the planning process. Our plans for Hunterston would deliver Scotland’s first new coal-fired power station for more than 40 years so it is perhaps not surprising that such a major development has attracted objections.”

A quarter of the UK’s coal and nuclear power plants are scheduled to shut down over the next 15 years, and a substantial capacity shortfall is expected if demand surges and new facilities are not built.

Sources: POWERnews, Peel Power, North Ayrshire Council