Clean fossil-fuelled power generation

Using fossil fuels is likely to remain the dominant means of producing electricity in 2030 and even 2050, partly because power stations have long lives. There are two main ways of reducing CO(2) emissions from fossil-fuelled power plants. These are carbon capture and storage (CCS), which can produce near-zero CO(2) emissions, and increases in plant efficiency, which can give rise to significant reductions in CO(2) emissions and to reduced costs. If a typical UK coal-fired plant was replaced by today’s best available technology, it would lead to reductions of around 25% in emissions Of CO(2) per MWh of electricity produced. Future technologies are targeting even larger reductions in emissions, as well as providing a route, with CCS, to zero emissions. These two routes are linked and they are both essential activities on the pathway to zero emissions. This paper focuses on the second route and also covers an additional third route for reducing emissions, the use of biomass. It discusses the current status of the science and technologies for fossil-fuelled power generation and outlines likely future technologies, development targets and timescales. This is followed by a description of the scientific and technological developments that are needed to meet these challenges. Once built, a power plant can last for over 40 years, so the ability to upgrade and retrofit a plant during its lifetime is important.