The chief executive of the Association of Electricity Producers has welcomed a vote by the European Parliament to extend the deadline for power plants to comply with air pollution targets from 2016 to 2019.
AEP chief executive David Porter said that the original proposals in the Industrial Emissions Directive would in practice have forced up to 25 per cent of the UK’s generating capacity to close by 2016.
Mr Porter said: “The flexibility mechanisms now included in the will allow the UK’s older coal and gas plants to be upgraded or retired on a more sensible timescale.
“Electricity generation in the UK faces the threefold challenge of maintaining secure electricity supplies and making the transition to a low carbon economy while ensuring competitive prices for the consumer.”
Mr Porter added that £120 billion of investment is needed in electricity generation over the next 15 years and the extension of the Industrial Emissions Directive deadline will help energy companies to better plan investment decisions.
But business group the CBI argues that energy generators need until 2021 to comply with the Directive to give them enough time to build other low-carbon energy sources to replace lost capacity.
Sean McGuire, director of CBI Brussels, said: “The proposal to extend the timescale still does not go far enough.
“There is a risk that the UK will not be able to build other low-carbon energy sources in time to replace lost capacity.
“A phased introduction for this directive would allow the UK to make a smoother transition to a more balanced energy mix. This also has the backing of the majority of EU member states.”