13 July 2018

The UK is phasing out coal

Britain has been powered for more than a thousand hours without coal this year, in a new milestone underscoring how the polluting fuel’s decline is accelerating... The pace of coal power’s demise is speeding up. Throughout the whole of 2017 there were 624 coal-free hours, up from 210 hours in 2016.

The fall of coal power has been swift. In 2012 it supplied two fifths of electricity – this year so far it has provided less than 6%... The decline will deepen in the second half of this year, with the planned closure in September of a Yorkshire coal plant and one in Northern Ireland...

Coal’s fortunes have been in contrast to a series of record highs for renewable sources of energy, including wind, solar and biomass. Renewables supplied 30.1% of electricity in the first three months of the year...
This kind of change is triggered by scientific advances, but implementation requires policy changes by an intelligent and progressive government.  Most countries with enlightened leaders are doing the same as the UK.

9 comments:

  1. While one applauds the move away from "dirty" energy sources like coal, let's not forget that thousands of people still rely on coal for their income. I know progress eliminates jobs and other jobs are created, but coal mining has brought the creation of villages, towns, even major cities. My wife's family worked the mines around Pittsburgh for several generations. Their legacy has allowed my wife and her sister to graduate from 2 of the most prestigious colleges in the east, and future generations will have their futures aided by the money earned from "King Coal."

    Where I live (Maryland), people are fighting against solar panel farms and windmills that spoil their ocean view. Woe to the candidate that supports these endeavors. It was fine for thousands of mostly lower middle class people to risk their lives for decades to bring energy to the homes of people in horse country and those with ocean views. The coal mines were hundreds of miles away. Don't dare be so brazen as to expect these people to have to look at a field of solar panels as they make their way to the nearest Whole Foods, or see the vague outline of windmills 25 miles out to sea as they sip their craft beer on the deck. Demand clean, renewable energy, but NIMBY.

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    1. I quite understand; I spent 15 years living in central Kentucky, working often with coal miners and lectured about mining techniques and black lung disease. That's why I tried to at least briefly emphasize that changes in energy policy require an enlightened govenment that can implement reeducation and social support systems for those displaced. It's goofy to be encouraging more mining now, as one politician does for vote-getting purposes.

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  2. There are two problems. Firstly, most of that coal power is being replaced with gas, which is not a renewable nor is it a clean fuel.

    And that leads to the second problem, which is that we're buying the gas from other countries - particularly Russia - which means a) our electricity is costing us more, and b) other countries are making profits out of this change from coal while we still have viable coal reserves we could use. But that can't happen because of the ridiculous political battles of the 80s between the government and coal miners.

    However, we are starting to build very large wind farms, especially off-shore. These will replace gas eventually. Then all we have to do is figure out how to decommission all the nuclear power stations....

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    1. I just looked up US natural gas imports. As I suspected, we import almost all our natural gas from Canada, and zero from Russia.

      https://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/ng_move_impc_s1_a.htm

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  3. If I may offer a dissenting opinion on the fossil fuel debate. I see coal as a natural mineral buried in the ground. It happens to be an excellent source for heat and electric production. It's not the great evil many brand it to be. The greatest evil is we humans have been cursed with the ability to reason, therefore the basic survival instincts other animal species exhibit have been subordinated in the human species to greed, lust, power over others and thus the ability to murder other humans in order to acquire these "not essential to survive" objectives is responsible for tainting a pristine environment. We can't alter our behavior, however we can and must decrease the population. It basically boils down to the scenario depicted in the B-Movie Soylent Green. Cull the herd or face total extinction. Placing the blame for our human ills on fossil fuel is folly. It's as farcical as blaming guns as the primary reason for gunshot deaths.

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    1. I think I need to offer you a dissenting opinion on your Malthusian catastrophism. I believe your concepts of world population are based on outdated concepts and data from a generation ago.

      Are you familiar with Bangladesh? An area the size of Florida with a population of 150 million (half the United States), and thus the highest population density in the world (950/sq km)(higher than India Japan etc). In the 1960s Bangladeshi women bore an average of 6.7 children each, but with the advent of education, empowerment of women, lowering of child mortality, provision and acceptance of birth control etc etc etc, they now average only 2.9 children per woman - in line with "developed" countries. Want more details? Watch the brief video here about the Bangladesh miracle -

      https://www.gapminder.org/videos/gapmindervideos/gapcast-5-bangladesh-miracle/

      No time now, but I'll post a video later this summer that debunks the fear of a world population crisis.

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    2. Hans Rosling!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LyzBoHo5EI

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    3. The number of mistakes in your post is simply too large for me to address right now. Suffice it to say; your data is lacking, your logic is flawed (I count at least two formal logical fallacies in your post), and your conclusions are therefore suspect at best.

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  4. "Biomass" is not substantially cleaner or more efficient than coal. Wood is a potential renewable resource, but only if you plant the trees.
    Lumping wood heat in with "green" energy seems a little deceptive.

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