Scottish Power’s 1 GW gas fired power plant at Cockenzie, to replace a 40-year-old coal-fired station on the site, has been given the go-ahead by the Scottish government.

A separate application for a new gas pipeline was also approved.

“Natural gas is a much more efficient fuel than coal and will more than halve carbon and nitrogen dioxide emissions compared to the existing power station,” said the government in a statement.

The existing 1200 MW coal fired plant will have to close down by the end of 2015 to meet EU pollution legislation.

The new combined-cycle gas turbine power plant will also reserve space to fit carbon capture technology once it is commercially and technically proven, the government said.

The Cockenzie development is also designed to use the heat produced during the electricity generating process for other purposes, said Energy Minister Fergus Ewing.

The minister said he had published a new study on waste heat which showed it was technically possible to recover significant amounts of heat at large power stations but that the financial case remained unattractive.

Scottish Power Generation Limited applied to Scottish ministers for consent to construct and operate a 1 GW combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) generating station in 2009. East Lothian Council formally withdrew its objection to the proposal in December 2010.

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