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article imageCoal-fired generation in UK drops, despite coal stockpiles

By Karen Graham     May 14, 2019 in World
London - Current stockpiles of coal in the UK are more than twice what the government anticipates coal-fired power stations will need ahead of the 2025 deadline for ending coal-fired power for electricity.
At the end of 2018, there was 4.1 million tons of coal stockpiled at UK power stations, more than double the 1.6 million tons the government predicts will be needed for UK coal-fired electricity generation, which is due to end by 2025.
The excessive amount of stockpiled coal has raised questions by Friends of the Earth and the Coal Action Network — the latter suggesting that the excess is triggering increased exports of the fossil fuel onto the global market. According to the Ecologist, exports of coal from the UK are at an eight-year high, increasing 28 percent in 2018, and sourced from the UK’s opencast coal mines.
Dr. Richard Denniss, Chief Economist at The Australia Institute, commented on the findings: “Economics 101 tells us that when you increase the supply of something you push down the price."
Druridge Bay is a 7 miles (11 km) long bay on the North Sea in Northumberland  England  stretching f...
Druridge Bay is a 7 miles (11 km) long bay on the North Sea in Northumberland, England, stretching from Amble in the north to Cresswell in the south.
Glennsmart at English Wikipedia
"By mining more coal in the UK than is burned in the UK there is no doubt that the UK coal industry is putting downward pressure on world coal prices and, in turn, leading to an increase in consumption of coal globally," he added.
This premise is interesting, seeing that Drax power station has not burnt coal since March 23rd, Aberthaw since March 14th, and West Burton since January.
Another opencast mine?
We could also add that Communities Secretary James Brokenshire is being urged to rethink approving plans to build an opencast coal mine in Northumberland.
RWE s open-pit lignite coal mine is the largest in Europe.
RWE's open-pit lignite coal mine is the largest in Europe.
RWE Energy
The site of the opencast mine at Druridge Bay was originally recommended for approval by the planning inspector in November 2017, on the basis that there was a "window" for using the coal for power generation before 2025 when coal-fired generation was due to end in the UK.
Brokenshire's predecessor Sajid Javid refused the application in 2018, citing environmental and climate change impacts. But his decision was over-ruled by the High Court, and that is why Brokenshire is now reconsidering the site for the mine. But this raises a big question: Why another opencast mine, seeing as the UK will be going coal-free in a couple of decades?
Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth fossil free campaigner, said: “James Brokenshire must reject the Druridge Bay planning application and protect this wildlife-rich, beauty spot from devastation. With the world facing a climate emergency, it’s time to consign coal to the history books and build a cleaner, safer future based on energy efficiency and the UK’s vast renewable power potential.”
A week without coal
Earlier this month, Britain went one whole week without the use of coal to generate electricity — and officials say this was the first time it has happened since the reign of Queen Victoria, a true landmark moment in the country's transition away from coal, according to The Guardian.
DRAX Power Station in Drax  North Yorkshire.
DRAX Power Station in Drax, North Yorkshire.
Paul Glazzard (CC BY-SA 2.0)
According to the National Grid Electricity System Operator, which runs the network in England, Scotland, and Wales, the last coal generator came off the system at 1:24 p.m. on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. At that time, the UK had gone one week without coal being used to generate electricity.
This latest accomplishment comes two years after the UK had its first "coal-free" day since the Industrial Revolution. This reduction in coal use has been responsible for halving generation emissions since 2013, according to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), whose report last week called for the UK to pursue a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The latest projections show that the amount of electricity the UK will generate from coal-fired facilities will fall by 90 percent between 2020 and 2025, so why is there a need for another opencast coal mine and why are utilities stockpiling a dirty fossil fuel?
More about United Kingdom, Coalfired power, Renewables, coal stockpiles, coal minea
 
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