Should we start to burn coal again?

Discussion in 'Eco Talk' started by Bob Rathbone, Dec 24, 2021.

  1. Bob Rathbone

    Bob Rathbone Screwfix Select

    Merry Christmas all!
    This morning on the telly we were told that the cost of gas was going to rise by 50% in the spring of next year due to the wholesale market being hit by a high demand. This is on top of the rises already imposed this year. As a direct result of this gas price increase, because we generate most of our electricity from gas (BBC not me), the price of electricity was also due to rise by a similar amount. We seem to be highly reliant on imported energy from unstable areas of the world provided by private industries with only their shareholder's dividends as the driving force. We do need to break this stranglehold that external agencies, most foreign, exert on our national and individual economic future. Green energy is one solution but despite all of the hype, it is still in it's infancy and will not be able to supply our needs within the next 10 years. My solution to this mess is to re introduce coal as one of our contributors to our electrical energy needs. New stations would need to be built with flue gas scrubbers fitted, the product of the flue gas scrubbers is mainly gypsum this could be used in building for plasterboard and plaster. Our coal mines will need to be re opened, giving work to areas that were devastated by the closures in the late 1980's, this will give us some locally produced and locally controlled energy that will lessen the demand for gas and have a downward pressure on it's wholesale price.
    Our 'Green Revolution' is an expensive exercise complained about by those with some spare cash, and suffered by those with none. It is time to draw back from the dogma that has troubled the industry for so long and to allow some common sense to prevail.
    OK, now it's time to take a pot shot at Bob, what does the community think, how should we move forward, please justify your statements and give them some prior thought before sending them to text.
    Happy new year!
    Tricky Dicky and PhilSo like this.
  2. Johnik

    Johnik Member

    yes, a lot of our industry has been shut down and exported so the "polution" has just moved from here to somewhere else who may have lest standards on emmisions:rolleyes:
    merry humbug all:cool:
  3. quasar9

    quasar9 Screwfix Select

    We may not have a choice ! As they say beggars cannot be choosers !

    a new coal mine is proposed for Cumbria, albeit for steel industry that needs coke. Although the PM is against it, the economic necessity may force his hand. Recently, EDF restarted a few coal fired stations as calm conditions meant that the wind farms could not generate sufficient power and being autumn, the solar grids were practically offline.

    Germany too has done this but on a more permanent basis.

    In USA the coal belt politics means it’s unlikely they will do anything to stop using it in the first place, besides they have invested in fracking and sand tar refining.

    Both india and China have stepped up coal usage, although continuing to invest in alternatives. For them, like UK, coal is the only guaranteed supply of fossil energy. Don’t forget these two worked together to change the wording of COP26 from “end the use of coal” to “phase out…..”.

    We may not have a choice in the matter !

    BTW - in the crazy world of carbon politics, us buying LNG from Qatar will not count towards our carbon emissions but will add to Qatar’s, and they don’t care !
    PhilSo likes this.
  4. Jimbo

    Jimbo Screwfix Select

    "Harnessing the full potential of offshore wind will play a vital role in decarbonising European economies and societies by 2050. The UK and the Netherlands have both established ambitious targets to expand offshore wind capacity in the North Sea, with the UK government recently announcing it was targeting 40 gigawatts by 2030"
    Source: National Grid and TenneT to jointly develop vision to link offshore wind farms to Britain and the Netherlands | National Grid Group

    To put that number in perspective, the day time load tends to be about 35-40GW - see National Grid: Live Status (
  5. MGW

    MGW Screwfix Select

    I was unaware we had stopped, looking at our local public transport DSC_5816.jpg it seems it still burns coal. But the problem is the last coal burning power station uses just enough coal to keep the supply of steam coal from South Wales viable.

    Once that closes then we are looking at Poland for coal, which is not as good, and once mined coal degrades, so no good stock piling it.

    The main reason why oil and gas central heating is better than solid fuel is the balanced flue. The air for combustion caused drafts through our homes, added to that is the particular emissions, to reduce them you need an after burn, and for that to work the output is fixed.

    This means the solid fuel boiler, has a constant output, but we don't want that to heat the home, so we need a heat store, this also means we can mix heat sources Torrent pipe example.PNG but the problem is installation cost, gas costs around the £4,000 mark where solid fuel more like £20,000 so this is the main problem.

    It is the same with the Steam Engine shown, the maintenance cost is very high, it would be far cheaper to run a diesel instead, OK cold carriages as we use steam to heat the carriages, but sure we could fit diesel heaters too.
  6. quasar9

    quasar9 Screwfix Select

    We will have to “electrify” the steam loco then ! Battery packs in the boiler, tanks and coal bunker, electronics in the steam dome, sound system in the funnels and an electric motor in each of the two axles ! We could have a touch screen controls too for throttle, steam brakes, water feed injectors but firebox maybe more tricky ! :D
  7. Bazza-spark

    Bazza-spark Screwfix Select

    Tower Colliery, which I believe was the last in South Wales, and one of the largest, closed 3 or 4 years go. It supplied coal to Aberthaw power station, but the coal was deemed "too dirty", so it is now imported from China. Used to love watching the train slowly pass the back of our house 2 or 3 times a day with 24 cars of coal.
  8. Bob Rathbone

    Bob Rathbone Screwfix Select

    We have issues greater than decarbonising our economy, one is the poor in our society, as government is willing to allow the steep rises in fossil fuel costs to suppress usage, it is those on the breadline that bear the brunt of the ambitions of those who can afford to continue to use fossil fuels. We will see deaths over winter because the poorer in our society are unable to afford to keep warm. How do we explain that to these people? The more wealthy members of society are sacrificing the poor in their bid to decarbonise.
    It it that group of financially vulnerable who are least able to afford or install the technology necessary to heat their homes, it is those who will suffer for our collusion with government by supporting the 'Green Ticket', this does not sit well with me nor I expect most of you.
    By 2030 we may have 100% renewable, that will be cold comfort to those we have sacrificed to reach that target.
    quasar9 likes this.
  9. Muzungu

    Muzungu Screwfix Select

    Maybe a LED screen with a suitable MPEG on repeat?
    quasar9 likes this.
  10. quasar9

    quasar9 Screwfix Select

    Generally speaking, shift in technology has always worked against a section of society that stands to loose their jobs or way of life - the term Luddites, whose popular meaning is those averse to change, was originally those that feared for their livelihood by introduction of mechanical looms by Arkwright. But it also illustrated the reaction by the common man against what they perceived as injustice.

    What impact the increase in fuel poverty has on society and how the electorate votes is to be seen. Strangely, the political party which has traditionally claimed to be on the side of the poor and working class is remarkably silent on this issue.
  11. Jimbo

    Jimbo Screwfix Select

    ... because all the pressures are external; the UK Government has very little influence on energy prices outside of encouraging market competition and setting tax levies on it.
    Sparkielev likes this.
  12. MGW

    MGW Screwfix Select

    The problem is the government keeps getting caught out. Silly adverts of a Freddy Boswell look alike clapping his hands to turn the lights on and off after fitting a smart meter for example. So clearly nonsense we have learnt not to trust the government, even when what they say is true.

    Be it globule warming, or Covid 19 we now simply don't trust them, so people don't get their jabs and fail to wear masks, as the don't believe what the government says, even it true.

    Wolf and cry comes to mind.

    We have also seen the about turns, where one minute diesel was the best thing, and we were all told to but diesel then an about turn and petrol is now better. We had in Thatchers time the lean burn engine and the catalytic converter, EU wanted catalytic converter she wanted lean burn engines, seems only Toyota has managed both, but we saw for a short time the car with 90 MPH, then we got side impact bars and the like, which are paid for with lower MPG due to weight.

    So my ebike can do around 50 miles on a 12 Ah battery at 48 volt, light enough to carry into the house to charge, and able to take me at 16 MPH well if the speed limiter was bypassed around 22 MPH (without pedal assistance as can't turn legs that fast) with a average motor power of less than 250 watt, peak power 350 watt.

    If we want a car to carry 4 people, at say 40 MPH say 100 miles at 40 MPH we should be looking at around 1 kWh. i.e. 576 watt/hour x 4 people, time 2 as twice as fast although more aerodynamic, x 2 as twice the distance with a little bit extra. Nissan Leaf battery 40 - 62 kWh, there is clearly some thing wrong. If we want to encourage people to use an ebike with just bright clothing and a cycle helmet why have amour plating around the car?

    We know why, an accident can set the battery on fire, so battery needs protecting. Small fire on an ebike OK can deal with that, but a 40 kWh battery is a lot of energy to sink.

    So we have :-
    The trip hazard of charge leads.
    The dangers of PME supplies outdoors.
    The fire risk.
    The mining of rare minerals.
    The electrical supply network.
    The list goes on, which leaves us with the question is it environmentally friendly, remember we can't trust the government, even organisations like Green Peace who tried to disrupt building of Sizewell power station not because it was nuclear, but because they were using seal oil, so called because it sealed the hydrogen gas used to cool the rotator in place, it did not come from seals.

    One of the public schools had as a motto anything in moderation nothing in excess, and the problem is we instead of gradually trying new technology we go like a bull in a china shop, then find we have made a mistake.

    Do you remember the ELCB-v? Now outlawed, but when they came out we said how good they were. In 2010 found the last one, that's some 50 years after they were banned. I look at the EV charging points, and wonder how many have loss of PEN detection?

    Price is important, £27k for a Nissan Leaf, I seem to remember my last New small car a Vauxhall Agila was around £8k so looking at 3 times the price. And will a shorter life expectancy. Where I work the railway engines are all around 100 years old, except for a couple of diesels and even them are over 50 years old.

    I moved to a large car to tow the caravan, a Kia Sorento, great car, runs well even if getting old, but parking it is a problem as parking spaces to narrow, many supermarkets now have VIP parking spots with wider bays, they are called EV charging points. Not seen a single disabled EV charging point, could this be because the government has not moved to issuing EV's as disabled vehicles, if they are so good, why no EV ambulances?

    OK Production based on the Ford Transit is scheduled to start in 2022. We hear about fast chargers, where I work we have a pair of 22 kW EV charge points, however it seems many cars can only use a single phase, so charge point can give 22 kW but many cars can only take 7 kW. So 40 kWh/7 = 6 hours to recharge, instead of 2 hours, this of course has a knock on effect, the car is sitting at charge point for 6 hours instead of 2, so need 3 times the number of charge points.
    Jimbo likes this.
  13. JOMEL

    JOMEL Active Member

    Merry Xmas Guys.

    Well just to take this to the other side of the coin a bit.
    About 6 metres of my wooden railing got blown over in the gales
    a few weeks ago. They had been in place 35 year or so.
    I sawed them all up so the guys at the allotments very local to
    me could heat there little huts up.
    I went to see them to be informed,
    They can not burn wood or coal any longer
    only coke and gas. which is to expensive. All over the allotments
    was rubbish that would of been burned in earlier days,
    So mine had to be taken to the dump Circa 12 miles return.
    2 Journeys, as there's is now also.
    So I wonder what is more polluting my/there cars or burning the wood,

    Lots of coal where I live

    Take care

    Johnny M
  14. Bob Rathbone

    Bob Rathbone Screwfix Select

    Hello all, hope your Christmas was a good one. It's interesting to see the varied views on the issue I raised, but despite this variation how many contributors have recognised the current misgivings in our dash to be greener. I am no Luddite, we cannot continue to burn fossil fuel indefinitely, it will run out at some point and is causing polution. We need to have technologies in place to replace them as the become more scarce. Jimbo, I recognise as we all do that the price rise pressure is external to our country, but that was one of my issues, we should not have been put in a position by a previous female prime minister (No names, but had children) where gas was to become the main fuel for generating electricity. We do not have an energy policy, nor do we have a minister with a portfolio for energy coupled to a strong political will and law to make things happen. We need to invest quickly into sources such as molten salt reactor technology, apparently cheaper and safer than previous nuclear reactors, we need to break the stranglehold that the energy generators and distributors hold on micro generation up to 4 kW and bring back a realistic export tariff, this will encourage the installation of home solar PV once again. Our energy industry and the governments energy policy is broken beyond repair, time to re think our energy future to allow the provision of cleaner affordable energy for our homes and more importantly, industry. This whole energy issue is holding back any real chance of a meaningful economic upturn for us all. All we need now is for a political party to act on this. Happy new year.
    Jimbo likes this.
  15. MGW

    MGW Screwfix Select

    @JOMEL Yes most my wood is used to light the boilers in the steam engines we still use here in Wales, and to @Bob Rathbone yes there is always a problem with all eggs in one basket, and knee jerk reactions. We have seen errors in the past with wonder materials, like asbestosis, what happens if we find something used to make the batteries is dangerous in some way?

    And before we continue with EV's we need the infrastructure to be in place. We see reports of the health service ordering a fleet of electric ambulances, I would have thought try half a dozen first and see what draw backs there are. I have seen ambulances and police cars both designed so engine can be left running without an chance of being driven off, sitting there for hours on end at a event and I question what will happen if no way to keep batteries charged?

    We have seen all to often where well meaning energy saving has back fired, cladding on high rise flats for example. And we know what motor manufacturers are like, the VW scandal for example, we need to slow down, and give some time for any problems to show up, not go in like a bull in a china shop.
    Jord86 likes this.
  16. quasar9

    quasar9 Screwfix Select

    A lot of useless technology is being created to “comply” with govt. guidelines and laws. I say comply in quotes, as much of these laws have been framed by an unholy alliance between politicians who have one eye on the next elections, and lawyers who are effectively creating a revenue stream for themselves in the future, neither with any understand of science or technology. Their understanding of the issue, tenuous as best is clouded by propaganda from single issue pressure groups.

    Business whose only imperative is to continue trading will keep coming up with goods that “comply” with little regards to its complexity. I could give many examples but one of the earliest was Edison trying to convince the US courts that AC systems promoted by Westinghouse was dangerous but not succeeding entirely. As a result USA ended up with 120v system which soon proved to be the wrong decision. A costly retrofit solution followed with a split transformer supplying 120 from a 240v supply which itself is derived from a higher 3phase supply ‘
    BiancoTheGiraffe likes this.
  17. Astramax

    Astramax Super Member

    Shall we start burning coal again.....................again?....I never stopped.
  18. Jimbo

    Jimbo Screwfix Select

    The export rates are a joke now.
  19. DaveF

    DaveF Active Member

    I don't know why we listen to minorities all the time. Had we ignored the green bunch and built more nuclear power stations we would not be in this mess.

    But whatever you think about the direction we should have gone in, you can certainly blame successive governments for making fundamentally stupid decisions. There are certain things in which we must be self sufficient. Core industries. We have to get out of our heads that other countries are ever interested in our well being! We can not import energy from somewhere else. We seem to forget that wars and disputes happen all the time and all it takes is the flip of a switch and we are left with nothing.
    BiancoTheGiraffe likes this.
  20. Bob Rathbone

    Bob Rathbone Screwfix Select

    Dave, my thoughts entirely, when will you be running for election?

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