The UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) on Thursday approved a 900-MW combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power station in Spalding, Lincolnshire, in an effort to boost the nation’s energy security. The consent was given on the condition that the plant reserves enough space to allow for a future retrofit of carbon capture technology.

Minister of Energy Charles Hendry also said that an option to harness waste heat from the plant had been left open. “We have made it a condition of the consent that the developers must install the necessary plant and pipework to enable the station to supply waste heat to local users if the opportunity to do so materializes,” he said.

The DECC consented construction of the plant along with a green light for a 56 MW onshore wind farm on the Ray Estate near Kirkwhelpington, Northumberland. The approvals were crucial because “about a quarter of the UK’s generating capacity is due to close by 2018 and we need to ensure that we secure the investment to replace that,” Hendry said.

In related news, the UK government last week invited owners of gas-fired power plants to apply for a share of its planned £9 billion carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration fund.

The move means the funds are no longer restricted to just coal plants.

It was made primarily because the UK “looks set to rely on gas for years to come,” Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said. “We won’t be able to take the carbon out of all gas plants overnight, but we hope to support the process by investment in new technology now."

The government remains committed to funding four commercial-scale CCS projects and recently announced that up to £1 billion is to be made available for the first commercial scale CCS demonstration project, Hune said. However, the competition has now been restructured into a “procurement round” after Germany’s E.ON abandoned plans for a CCS plant at Kingsnorth last month, leaving ScottishPower as the only contender in the competition.

Several other issues continue to remain unresolved. The UK government, which has been forced to implement a series of austerity measures in the face of the global economic slowdown, has not finalized how the new generation of CCS demonstration plants will be funded. Media around the country have widely reported that DECC is looking at a number of financing options such as a CCS levy or through public taxation.

Sources: DECC, POWERnews