E.ON UK has submitted a scoping statement to statutory consultees over its plans to build two new 800MW supercritical units at its Kingsnorth coal-fired power station in Kent.

The application is for what could be the UK’s first highly efficient supercritical coal-fired units, which will reduce carbon emissions by almost two million tonnes a year compared to the existing units if built.

The two 800MW units would be built next to the existing station, which has four units, and would be carbon capture ready. The new station, which would use direct cooling, would be capable of producing enough power for around 1.5 million homes, roughly the same as the existing units.

The move is part of E.ON’s commitment to reducing its carbon intensity by 10% by 2012, compared with 2005. The new units will operate at an efficiency of 45% and above, compared to the existing units’ efficiency of around 36%.

It’s only by looking at building new power projects such as this, together with new renewables, our clean coal station at Killingholme and our proposed gas-fired stations at Grain and Drakelow, that we can help ensure the UK’s lights stay on for decades to come while also reducing our emissions, commented Dr Paul Golby, chief executive of E.ON UK.

Alongside that, these new, highly efficient, coal-fired units offer the UK a diversity of supply which will mean we don’t become overly reliant on a single fuel source for our power, he added.

E.ON UK is also considering making the new units capable of burning biomass with coal, although that would be dependent on the continuation of the current framework for biomass co-firing.

The new units would only start generating commercially once the existing units had ceased operation, which must be by the end of 2015 under the strictures of the EU’s Large Combustion Plant Directive.

E.ON UK has already applied for S36 consent to build two new gas-fired power stations, at Drakelow in Derbyshire and at the Isle of Grain in Kent, and is conducting a feasibility study into building a clean coal power station at Killingholme in Lincolnshire.

The company is currently building the UK’s largest dedicated biomass power station at Lockerbie and has around 1,300MW of wind farm schemes in various stages of development. It has also recently created a marine arm to investigate the possibility of tidal and wave power.