Tony Lodge on Ferrybridge power station closure (The Yorkshire Post)

CPS Research Fellow Tony Lodge wrote for The Yorkshire Post on the early closure of Ferrybridge Power Station and why the Carbon Price Floor is to blame, Wednesday 20 May 2015. 

“THE new Conservative Government has a big problem and it just got a lot worse. The shock announcement of the early closure of Ferrybridge Power Station, seven years before it needed to close due to emissions rules, is a body blow to Britain’s energy security and exposes the folly of the previous coalition Government’s dreams. Crucially, on the back of this wake up call, will the new Government now act in the national interest, before it is too late?

Ferrybridge, near Castleford, started generating electricity in 1966. It was one of the biggest coal-fired power stations in the country generating over 2000 MW (megawatts) of power to the National Grid. In 2014 half of the plant stopped operating as it had not been updated to meet strict new EU emissions rules, but a crucial 1000MW, enough power to supply electricity to around one million homes, was expensively updated to run on.

So why has the power station closed early, citing soaring running costs, when coal prices are at an eight year low and when the plant was modernised to stay open through until 2023?

The Carbon Price Floor is hardly the buzz term of the moment, but for those 172 Ferrybridge workers who face the sack and those concerned about the direction of British energy policy, then it should be. To use a shorter and more descriptive title, this ‘carbon tax’ is slowly forcing the closure of the backbone of our electricity generating base.

So what is the Carbon Price Floor tax, why is it so damaging and why did a Conservative-led Treasury introduce it? In short it is an easy tax grab by the Chancellor but the potential side effects were clearly never examined or accepted. They are disastrous as we are now seeing. Introduced in 2013, it taxes emissions from coal-burning power stations at a rate nearly five times higher than the equivalent taxes which exist in the rest of Europe; in short it is a tax grab on the very power stations which are providing the lion’s share of our electricity supply.

The results are clear; early power station closures, higher electricity prices, skilled job losses and higher costs in manufacturing and industry.

Up until April 2013 Britain was a key player in the EU wide Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) and shared the same carbon prices as the rest of the EU. Though EU carbon prices were considered too low to effectively penalise big polluters, all of Europe’s emitters were on a level playing field and paid the same prices for their carbon dioxide emissions.

However this has not happened. Today, the price for carbon faced by power stations across the EU is just £5.30p; the price paid by British coal power plants is £23.38p per tonne of CO2 emitted.”

To read the full article, visit the Yorkshire Post website.

Date Added: Wednesday 20th May 2015