The majority of the UK's coal-fired power stations were built in the 1960s and 1970s, with most expected to reach the end of their life in the next few years unless they install emissions control technologies as required by the EU's Large Combustion Plant Directive.
E.ON UK is developing plans that could open a new chapter for UK coal generation, using state-of-the-art technologies that will see coal burned more cleanly than ever before in the UK.
Since the last coal power station was built, over 20 years ago, technology has advanced significantly to allow increased steam temperatures and pressures, referred to as 'supercritical'.
By replacing existing plant with highly efficient new supercritical power stations, we can expect to see a reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of up to 20 percent per unit of electricity supplied.
Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC)
An IGCC plant is one of the options for a clean coal power station, using cutting edge technology to convert coal into gases and removing CO2 ahead of the combustion process.
Demonstration projects of this type are dependent upon UK government support for development of the technology within an appropriate commercial and regulatory framework.
There's also the potential for these new generation systems to be operated alongside carbon capture and storage (CCS) which would allow us to remove carbon dioxide from power stations before it is emitted into the atmosphere.