Don’t forget coal

The TUC have published two useful briefings in relation to the Energy Bill. While much has been said about the hidden subsidy for nuclear and the role of renewables, coal remains the forgotten fuel.

Coal fired stations provide secure and affordable energy, and a highly flexible complement to renewable energy, especially from wind power. The high level of coal in the energy mix has benefitted electricity consumers through lower prices. Simply taking the difference between carbon, gas and coal prices, UK generators have made a cost saving of over £1.2 billion since November 2011. The future for coal-fired and gas-fired power stations lies with carbon capture & storage (CCS) technology and the TUC argues that the Government should urgently reinstate its commitment to at least four CCS projects.

The graph below has been produced by Left Foot Forward, using data from the Total Energy section of Energy Trends publication (pdf) shows inland UK energy consumption by sector from Q1 2011 to Q2 2012:

Inland-UK-energy-consumption-by-sector-Energy-Trends-11-12

This does not mean any dropping of support for climate change targets because the TUC supports a binding CO2 target for the Energy Bill. At peak times during the winter period, coal fired generation has supplied over 50% of the UK’s electricity demand. The TUC believes that clean coal with carbon capture & storage (CCS) has a key role to play in the transition to a low carbon future. They argue that:

“It is therefore essential that the Energy Bill Capacity Payments are available to all forms of flexible generation, including coal. Rather than a new ‘dash for
gas’, the Government should back a dash for CCS – both for power and industry.”

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