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Carbon Laws Threatening UK Energy Security, CBI Says

British power stations may be forced to close early under proposed changes to European Union emissions laws, threatening the nation’s energy security, according to an industry lobby group.

As many as 14 electricity plants, representing as much as a quarter of the country’s generating capacity, may need to install new equipment to curb emissions by 2016 or face closure, the Confederation of British Industry said in a statement.

“Given that these plants are old and due to close in the 2020s, letting them run their course would allow for a smooth transition to new low-carbon energy sources,” CBI Deputy Director General John Cridland said in the statement released today. Plant operators should be given until 2021 to make arrangements for the new rules, the group said.

Britain is preparing to replace as much as 30 percent of its aging power-station capacity over the next decade with a new fleet of nuclear reactors, gas-fired plants and generators driven by renewable sources such as wind. E.ON U.K. Chief Executive Officer Paul Golby this month urged the government to consider keeping some older fossil-fueled plants available to cope with the intermittency of wind power.

Emissions Directive

The draft Industrial Emissions Directive, which updates rules passed more than a decade ago on emissions from industrial plants, will go to a vote by the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee on May 4. A subsequent vote by the full 736-seat assembly would then be followed by talks with national governments.

“Even before this intervention from Europe our energy security was under threat,” Greg Clark, a lawmaker for Britain’s Conservative opposition who speaks on energy and climate-change policy, said in a statement. “Now we have a scramble to keep the lights on.”

Environmental group Greenpeace rejected the CBI’s “scare stories,” saying Britain plans a sixfold increase in the amount of energy it gets from clean sources in the next decade.

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