The news that Medway Council have given the green light to a coal fired power station at Kingsnorth in Kent seems at complete odds with the current informed thinking on energy, on coal and on the current ‘mood’ or zeitgeist towards sustainability. It also appears as a developing country decision – not one taken by a nation attempting to be a leader in sustainability and carbon targets. Building Guardian
The decision can be seen in many ways as a damning comment on the built industry in not moving fast enough to address the energy issue within buildings and facilities.
76 % of the energy from this new power plant will be consumed by buildings. By reducing building energy use of new and renovated buildings by a minimum of 50%, we negate the need for new coal plants. (source)
How can the government and local authorities push forward with zero carbon homes to Code 6, zero carbon schools, zero carbon non-domestic buildings, insist on reductions through Merton Rule approaches, and demand organisations reduce their carbon emissions … when in one action we turn the carbon emissions clock back 30 years ( This will be the first plant to be built in 30 years)
And many of these targets come in to place before the new plant comes on stream.
Perhaps the Kent council and others should read the work from the excellent and influential Architecture 2030, who, in the USA are directly and indirectly influencing cities and states to cancel or shelve coal fire plants in favour of a green build approach .
Emissions from the new plant will blow the UK’s targets and commitments for carbon reductions out of the water. The notion of cleaned coal is an oxymoron, with environmentalists and scientists diasgreeing over the viability of any capture / claeaning / sequestration technology. It will take years and seems a high gamble to rely on a technology in the future.
In a time when we need positive actions and messages to prevent green fatigue – this will send a dangerous message – that it is ok to invest in traditional planet threatening energy sources whilst playing lip service to renewables and alternatives investment.
A very ominous start to 2008.