Coal is cleaner option and gives us ‘energy independence’

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From: Barrie Frost, Watson’s Lane, Reighton, Filey.

BRITAIN has severely reduced the number of her coal-fired power stations and has spent around £1bn converting the coal-fired Drax power station to burn wood pellets, described as renewable biomass material. This has been done to achieve so-called cleaner energy and reduce harmful emissions and help combat climate change.

But, there are very serious and conflicting views on the claims made for wood pellets and the importation and use of these has been described by some as “lunacy”. So, shouldn’t we all forget pre-conceived opinions about the benefits of using wood pellets instead of coal and fully debate the position?

My understanding of renewable biomass fuels is that “renewable” means fast growing products which, after harvesting, rapidly regrow to their former state; they were often unwanted materials and by-products of other operations and their use provided clean energy with no environmental damage. In comparison, coal was viewed as a dirty fossil fuel, almost given evil status, which opposed all efforts to provide us with clean energy and combat climate change. But, recent data shows using coal can be a cleaner option with added benefits.

Recently 60 eminent American scientists wrote to Ed Davey, our Energy Secretary, pleading with him to stop ignoring the basic science and pressing on with a policy which was denuding their glorious forests. They say that burning trees to obtain electricity increases carbon emissions compared with fossil fuels. In addition to the environmental damage caused by chopping down mature trees is the loss of habitat to many creatures and the additional pollution from transporting the wood pellets annual distances of about 1.5 million miles by ships.

Consider the energy policies which Britain chose to ignore in preference to this mess. Britain has three billion tonnes of coal reserves and already had the best coal miners and collieries in the world. With her world-leading Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology, around 90 per cent of harmful emissions can be ‘captured’ and, guess what, Britain has enough room in depleted oil-fields to safely store over three centuries of these pollutants with these depleted oil-fields so conveniently near. Mining our coal does not damage the environment, does not destroy the habitat of many creatures, does not pump diesel fumes into the atmosphere, does not cost a fortune in imports and very importantly gives Britain energy independence.