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Offline DoctorBeaver

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UK government backs coal-fired power stations
« on: 03/04/2008 21:38:12 »
While portraying itself as being eco-minded and trying to persuade America to cut its carbon emissions, the British government is about to give the go-ahead to new coal-fired power stations.

From The Times Online

Fashionable though it is to rail against plastic bags - our own Prime Minister recently penned a Daily Mail assault on this incarnate evil - the climate change battle will not be won by the phoney war on bags, light bulbs and bottled water.

It is energy supply that will determine how quickly Britain goes green. Rather than trying to herd millions of individual consumers into taking tiny steps, the Government could change energy supply with one stroke of the pen. But the pen seems to be doodling wildly at the margins of the page.

There are only two things that will determine whether the world can step back from climate change havoc. One is forests, which are disappearing at an alarming rate and which act as “sinks” for carbon dioxide. The other is coal. If we burn all the coal that is in the ground, and let its filthy emissions out into the atmosphere, we won't be feeling genteel guilt in 20 years' time, but raw fear.

So it is extraordinary that the Government is trying to rush through a new generation of coal-fired power stations. Coal produces almost three times as much carbon dioxide per unit of electricity as gas. The shift from coal to gas in the 1980s accounts for almost all the progress Britain has made on reducing emissions. But John Hutton, the Energy Minister, has been bending over backwards to help the energy company E.ON to build a new plant at Kingsnorth, Kent, which now has planning permission.

Memos leaked to Greenpeace show that Mr Hutton's servile officials have pretty much let E.ON write the contract for what will be the first coal plant for 24 years. The contract does not require that E.ON should make Kingsnorth Britain's first demonstration project for carbon capture and storage technology (CCS). Yet that would be the only possible justification for building it.

CCS offers the hope of dramatically reducing emissions from power stations, by extracting carbon dioxide from coal and pumping it underground. Given that the world is set to burn a great deal of coal in the next 20 years, half of it in India and China, it is vital to prove the technology as fast as possible.

The Government is running a competition to build a small CCS demonstration project to be in operation by 2014. If that worked, it could then be scaled up to Kingsnorth size. But Kingsnorth is due to open in 2012. All eight of the coal-fired power stations now in the pipeline would have to be retro-fitted with the technology, at vast expense to the taxpayer, after they had already started polluting. The rush should be to test CCS, not to build plants that could become white elephants.

That is the view of other countries: California will not allow new coal plants without CCS. Canada has ruled that all coal plants must have CCS by 2018, built at their own expense.

Britain's antediluvian coal rush is provoking furious rows in Whitehall. Hilary Benn's department is livid that it has responsibility for environment but not energy and that while it begs energy companies to insulate grannies' homes, Mr Hutton gladhands them through the planning system. Downing Street is increasingly irritated by the muddle.

Gordon Brown ignored an aggressive memo from Mr Hutton earlier this year, which urged him not to sign the EU target on renewables. When Mr Brown stood firm, Mr Hutton's junior minister Baroness Vadera unbelievably lobbied EU ministers to treat coal (with CCS) as a “renewable” energy. Even E.ON is so fed up with ministerial dither that it has now called for a delay while it discusses “capture readiness” - a meaningless fudge but one that suits both sides.

It seems odd that a Government that talks tough on climate change is trying to turn the clock back on coal. But then this is a Government that only two years ago created the UK Coal Forum, a government- sponsored lobby whose sole purpose is to campaign for coal. The issue has opened up a seam of sympathy for old mining constituencies.

But that is not the ostensible reason for Kingsnorth. Ministers talk, first, about keeping the lights on - an argument that would be more credible if there were not already 32 gigawatts of gas and wind power planned to fill an “energy gap” of between 14 and 22GW. Secondly, they worry that Britain is too reliant on Norway and Russia for gas. But most of our coal is also imported - from Russia. And if you were going to rely on anyone, Norway is a good bet.

Renewables offer self-sufficiency. But with Britain producing only 4.7 per cent of electricity from renewable power, compared with 13 per cent in Germany, 20 per cent in Denmark, 50 per cent in Sweden and 100 per cent in Norway (from hydro power), a bigger vision is urgently needed - along with a new national grid to back up intermittent renewable sources with conventional power.

What is at stake in the Kingsnorth decision is not just the immediate pollution that it would generate. It is Britain's credibility in the international debate. India and

China are impressed by action, not words. Mr Brown has to make it clear that conventional coal has no future.

A few weeks ago I met Professor C.S. Kiang, founder of the Beijing College of Environmental Sciences. “You've shifted the blame to us,” said this mild-mannered academic, “by shifting your manufacturing to us. We have to solve this together.” We can't blame the Chinese for building coal-fired power stations if we do the same. And no amount of bleating about plastic bags is going to make up for it.


Should I email a definition of "hypocrisy" to Gordon Brown?


 

Offline jeromeowen

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UK government backs coal-fired power stations
« Reply #1 on: 22/12/2008 09:04:55 »
Coal mining work can be extremely dangerous, as the numerous occupational hazards can cause critical injuries or even death. If you have been injured in a coal mining accident, you have legal rights to claim for damages.

Spammy link removed and blacklisted - It seems that this is a plug for investors
« Last Edit: 22/12/2008 11:18:07 by BenV »
 

lyner

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UK government backs coal-fired power stations
« Reply #2 on: 22/12/2008 10:56:10 »
There are, now, plans to increase the open cast mining of coal in the UK. Not surprisingly, the mining will be in areas where the residents are not particularly influential and can't NIMBY loud enough to stop it. Just imagine an open cast mine being opened just south of Guildford!!
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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UK government backs coal-fired power stations
« Reply #3 on: 22/12/2008 12:14:33 »
There are, now, plans to increase the open cast mining of coal in the UK. Not surprisingly, the mining will be in areas where the residents are not particularly influential and can't NIMBY loud enough to stop it. Just imagine an open cast mine being opened just south of Guildford!!

They should be grateful for the work!
 

lyner

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UK government backs coal-fired power stations
« Reply #4 on: 22/12/2008 13:34:23 »
I'm glad you're not Lord of my local manor.
Hisss Boooo
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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UK government backs coal-fired power stations
« Reply #5 on: 22/12/2008 19:50:58 »
I'm glad you're not Lord of my local manor.
Hisss Boooo

You should be so lucky!
 

Offline Flyberius

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UK government backs coal-fired power stations
« Reply #6 on: 22/12/2008 20:04:25 »
I'm glad you're not Lord of my local manor.
Hisss Boooo

You should be so lucky!

Here Here
 

Offline MonikaS

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UK government backs coal-fired power stations
« Reply #7 on: 22/12/2008 20:45:53 »
Misery loves company, I guess. The German Government is doing the same thing. *sigh*
 

paul.fr

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UK government backs coal-fired power stations
« Reply #8 on: 22/12/2008 21:56:53 »
There are, now, plans to increase the open cast mining of coal in the UK. Not surprisingly, the mining will be in areas where the residents are not particularly influential and can't NIMBY loud enough to stop it. Just imagine an open cast mine being opened just south of Guildford!!

They should be grateful for the work!

Who? Not miners, they are (nearly) all gone.
 

lyner

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UK government backs coal-fired power stations
« Reply #9 on: 22/12/2008 22:24:29 »
Misery loves company, I guess. The German Government is doing the same thing. *sigh*
Alles ist kaput.
 

Offline MonikaS

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UK government backs coal-fired power stations
« Reply #10 on: 23/12/2008 08:24:42 »
Nicht alles... but quite a lot things are broken here in Germany. Energy policits is one of those. The big energy companies try to blackmail the government. Oh well...
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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UK government backs coal-fired power stations
« Reply #11 on: 23/12/2008 11:39:29 »
There are, now, plans to increase the open cast mining of coal in the UK. Not surprisingly, the mining will be in areas where the residents are not particularly influential and can't NIMBY loud enough to stop it. Just imagine an open cast mine being opened just south of Guildford!!

They should be grateful for the work!

Who? Not miners, they are (nearly) all gone.

Anyone
 

Offline graham.d

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UK government backs coal-fired power stations
« Reply #12 on: 23/12/2008 17:41:13 »
Well I expect it is a pragmatic decision in light of past procrastination about what to do. It would be irresponsible for any government to put the country in a position of being blackmailed into paying through the nose for energy supply because it did not have any alternative. It took years to make any decision about developing more nuclear power stations and I doubt that sufficient can be built quickly enough now.

There is a lack of joined up thinking (to coin a popular phrase) and any degree of foresight in the energy policies of the UK government going back as far as Mrs Thatcher effectively destroying the mining industry in the 1980s. Maybe they were hoping for a breakthrough in nuclear fusion, but it seems to me that there has been a huge amount of short-termism in using North Sea gas and oil without regard for developing longer term sources of energy. One would think that the potential problems of global warming and restriction of carbon emissions may have concentrated the Whitehall minds and that there would be rapid action taken to diversify the sources of energy. But, no, not other than paying a lot of lip service, which is much easier than actually doing anything.
 

Offline elmejor

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UK government backs coal-fired power stations
« Reply #13 on: 30/12/2008 12:28:56 »
There are, now, plans to increase the open cast mining of coal in the UK. Not surprisingly, the mining will be in areas where the residents are not particularly influential and can't NIMBY loud enough to stop it. Just imagine an open cast mine being opened just south of Guildford!!
but if the striping ratio is higher then how are they going to take out coal, you got to have underground mines, which are dangerous!
« Last Edit: 02/01/2009 05:04:46 by elmejor »
 

Offline teragram

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UK government backs coal-fired power stations
« Reply #14 on: 31/12/2008 13:12:39 »
I agree with all the comments on the stupidity of government policy on energy. Even if carbon capture and storage was built into power stations, how many people agree with the policy? CO2 will have to be stored in old mines etc. for an indefinite period. As time progresses, the pressure in these mines will increase with the daily input of CO2. Unless the space created by mining can accept the volume of CO2 produced, this cannot continue ad infinitum. Also, I think the energy required to capture CO2 is around 30% of the energy from burning the coal.

Why has the process of storing energy by compressed air not been mentioned on this page? This would be a far better way of using underground spaces, as energy storage to help cope with the variability of wind generation etc. The release of compressed air can be used to allow gas turbines to run without their air compressors, vastly increasing their efficiency. I understand that various schemes of this type are operating successfully around the world. I understand also that somewhere in Europe a plant is being developed which will store the heat generated by compression for use on release, which will remove the need for gas to drive the turbines. This technology would of course be part of a scheme to install many more renewable devices, wind and wave etc.

I submitted this suggestion to the government Energy Secretary some years ago. No reply.


« Last Edit: 31/12/2008 13:14:23 by teragram »
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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UK government backs coal-fired power stations
« Reply #15 on: 02/01/2009 12:17:20 »
You still need energy to compress the air. Where would that come from?
 

Offline teragram

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UK government backs coal-fired power stations
« Reply #16 on: 03/01/2009 13:44:48 »
"You still need energy to compress the air. Where would that come from?"

The energy to compress the air comes from (preferably) renewable generators, wind, tide, etc. The system is not one of production of energy, but of storage. We already use this principal in the UK with hydro pump storage schemes (eg.Ffestiniog, Ben Cruachan) where surplus energy from the grid is used to pump water to a higher level, then released into generators when demand increases. The compressed air system makes use of underground spaces to store energy from variable sources (wind etc,)helping to stabilise fluctuations in supply.
The idea is that instead of building coal fired stations and trying to compress CO2 to keep it out of the way, these underground spaces could be used to help provide more reliable renewable supplies.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #17 on: 06/01/2009 12:39:43 »
Fair enough
 

Offline Steve Leary

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UK government backs coal-fired power stations
« Reply #18 on: 03/04/2010 10:39:27 »
A recent report highlights how dependent the UK is becoming on Opencast Coal. It highlights that more than 50 % of domestically produced coal is now produced by opencast methods and that 10 new opencast mines are likely to be needed every year for the foreseeable future (up to 2025). This 32 page referenced report "UK Opencast / Surfaced Mine Coal: Its Role in Providing UK Energy Security" was published in January 2010 and is free to download from:
newbielink:http://www.leicestershirevillages.com/measham/mopg-reports.html [nonactive]
 

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UK government backs coal-fired power stations
« Reply #18 on: 03/04/2010 10:39:27 »

 

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