Tide must turn against wind power and in favour of coal

From: Rick Sumner, Cliff Road, Hornsea, East Riding.

I AM in complete agreement with your correspondent Barrie Frost (Yorkshire Post, March 29), although he may have underestimated the coal stocks.

Within the mining community, we believe we have some 300 years’ worth of identified coal reserves. It seems quite incredible that this government is committing countless millions to wind power, which is vastly expensive and not at all reliable. In winter high pressure equals very cold weather and no wind.

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We really should be using our coal stocks, using clean burn technology, to give us time to develop the only truly clean power sources, the tide and the sun.

Incidentally, the “pesky miners” in the 1980s were not fighting for wages or even conditions, they were fighting to save one of this country’s most valuable resources. When we lost, everybody lost – apart, that is, from the (non-British) companies who are having a wonderful time making money for themselves and helping to make our people hostages to the future.

From: Andrew Cook, chairman, William Cook Holdings, Sheffield.

There are some very good reasons why Britain’s coal mining industry has died. Thin coal seams and the justified but draconian mine safety laws make it much more expensive to mine British coal than to import it from abroad. Moreover, an over-dependence on British-mined coal and the attendant politicised and over-mighty National Union of Mineworkers endangered the economy when the miners went on strike in the 1970s and 1980s.

Nor does the answer lie in “clean coal”. The machinery required to remove CO2 from the boiler exhausts absorbs 30 per cent of the energy generated by the power station so equipped.

In other words, it has to burn 30 per cent more coal to generate the same amount of saleable electricity, thus increasing the price of that electricity by a commensurate amount.

I am confident that Britain’s ageing but reliable coal-fired power stations will continue to supply much of our electricity for many years. But ultimately there is no denying that only nuclear power stations, which are self-sufficient, require no imported fuel and create no CO2, can generate cheap, clean electricity in the longer term.

From: Peter Hyde, Driffield.

It is foolish to dump coal production entirely. Eventually, we are told, the world will run out of natural gas and oil is very much at the whim of the oil producers of the Middle East which is itself an area of friction which could develop into a situation where the West has problems. Wind power is at best a poor supplier of power.

Yet this country has millions of tonnes of coal which modern technology can convert to clean power and fuel for cars as well as being a product from which gas can be extracted as it was years ago. The only alternative is nuclear which is a potential danger and brings with it protests. Green is fine but needs a viable back-up. Coal provides that.

From: DM Loxley, Pinewood View, Hartoft, Pickering.

IT is a general misconception that using bio-mass as a fuel source is a “good thing”. The report, that both Eggborough and Drax electricity generating stations are both working to partially or wholly use wood pellets to displace the use of coal, presents only a part of the story.

Considering that Eggborough alone uses some five million tonnes of coal per year it would need over eight million tonnes of wood pellet fuel to produce the same electricity output. Where will this quantity of wood pellet be sourced? Drax has already signed a contract in Hull to import three million tonnes of pellet per year for 15 years which does not negate the sea transport and foreign dependency of nearly two million tonnes of coal.

In burning coal, Eggborough produces about 11 million tonnes of CO­2 per year; but with 100 per cent replacement by wood it would produce over 12 million tonnes of CO­2 per year.

The green lobby would argue that this is eco-friendly because the CO2 is absorbed by growing trees. This argument applies equally to the CO2 released by burning coal.

Wood pellets can only be manufactured after trees have been cut down, and in greater quantity than that, the scrap 
and dross, used to make the pellets. There is no auditable route to prove that growing 
trees are committed to absorbing the CO2 released from any defined site.