A new generation of coal-fired power stations equipped for carbon capture and storage has been signalled by Energy Secretary Ed Miliband.
He told MPs up to four of the plants could be built by 2020 enabling the UK "to lead the world" in the technology.
The aim was to keep coal, a cheap fuel, within the UK's energy mix without abandoning climate change commitments.
The Conservatives said the government had dithered over the issue and yielded ground to other countries.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology traps and stores carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels underground but has yet to be commercially proven.
The climate change secretary said successful CCS development could cut carbon emissions from coal by 90%.
In his Budget statement on Wednesday, the chancellor pledged funding for new projects alongside one existing scheme.
It is not clear where the new plants will be located ...