Power Station Pollution

The power to choose

Ever since the advent of industrial power in the late 18th century power stations have been polluting the air. They are the most visible source of pollution to the layman; large towers emitting plumes of dark smoke that seem to be forming into clouds, except they are tied to the ground through their constant replenishment, which makes a consistent and gargantuan smear run from the earth into the vast swathes of air above.

Burning fuels

Coal has been the most frequently burned fuel in power stations and up until the 1980s it was the UK's largest contributor of energy. There are many other types of power stations, nuclear being the most prominent, but fossil fuel powered stations are the traditional ones; these include gas and oil power stations. All kinds of power station will produce air pollution, though some less than others. The scale of power plants also means that they pollute over massive distances.

Legislation against power station pollution

To combat the pollution power stations cause to the air, the European Union implemented the Large Combustion Plants Directive 2001/80/EC (LCPD), which aimed at reduction of power plant emissions. The LCPD was then implemented in each of UK country with the same objective.

The LCPD states regulations that mean that all power stations built post-1987 must adhere to the emissions limitations set out by the LCPD. Power stations that have been operating since before 1987 had two options, to either have their lifespan limited or participate in the Nation Emissions Reduction Plan (NERP).

NERP was introduced in the UK following the Large Combustion Plants Regulations 2007, and allows pre-1987 power plants to trade their yearly emissions allowance sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulates with other power plants.

Government White Papers of 2003 and 2007 set an objective of 60% reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, to be achieved by 2050. To do this, new non-polluting energy sources need to be increased.

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