Why don't we have more coal-fired power stations in the UK?

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With the cost of utility bills on the rise, could open cast mining make a comeback in the UK? Kellingley Colliery in North Yorkshire was the last remaining deep underground coal mine to close on 18th December 2015. In 2014 there were still 26 coal mines in operation but by 2019 this number had reduced to just 13 as part of the government's plan to reach the goal of being carbon neutral by 2050.

It would help the UK economy if the coal mines were operational by not importing coal from countries like Russia and China. China has 1110 operational coal fired power stations and has plans for opening more. With the modern advances in reducing emissions from coal-powered stations, and underground under ocean carbon storage they could be a viable option to nuclear. If open cast mining were to make a comeback, it could provide employment for thousands of people and help reduce the cost of utility bills.

How Coal-Fired Power Stations Work​

Coal-fired power stations generate electricity by burning coal in giant furnaces. The heat from the burning coal is used to generate steam, which in turn drives turbines that generate electricity. The problem with this method of generating electricity is that it produces large amounts of carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

Only time will tell if open cast mining will make a comeback in the UK. With the cost of utility bills on the rise and advances in reducing emissions from coal-powered stations, it is an option that should be considered. If open cast mining were to make a comeback, it could provide employment for thousands of people and help reduce the cost of utility bills.

With utility costs only expected to continue rising, businesses and homeowners are looking for ways to save money on their energy bills. One way to do this is by switching to a more energy-efficient heating system. Another option is to generate your own power using renewable sources like solar or wind. But for many businesses and homeowners, the up-front cost of these options is simply too high. That's where coal-fired power stations come in.

The Pros of Coal Mining​

There are a few pros to coal mining. For one, it would help the UK economy by not importing coal from countries like Russia and China. Additionally, with advances in reducing emissions from coal-powered stations, they could be a viable option to nuclear power. Lastly, it is argued that coal mining provides good, well-paying jobs for those who are willing to do them.

- Provides jobs in economically depressed areas

- Can be a good career with good benefits

- Requires little formal education

- Helps the UK economy by not importing coal from countries like Russia and China

- With advances in reducing emissions from coal-powered stations, they could be a viable option to nuclear power

- Provides good, well-paying jobs for those who are willing to do them.
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The Cons of Coal Mining​

However, there are more cons to coal mining than there are pros. For one, it is a dirty and dangerous job. There have been many instances of miners getting injured or even killed while on the job. Additionally, coal mining can have a negative impact on the environment. The process of mining release harmful gases into the atmosphere which can cause acid rain and air pollution.

- Coal mining is a dangerous job

- It can be harmful to the environment

- Coal mining can be expensive and damaging to the local infrastructure

- Coal mines can collapse, causing death and destruction

- Disrupting the Landscape

- Dangerous Work

In order to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement, the UK has committed to phasing out all coal-fired power stations by 2025. This means that any new coal-fired power stations that are built must use CCS (carbon capture and storage) technology to capture and store the carbon dioxide they produce. CCS technology is very expensive, so any new coal-fired power stations that are built will be significantly more expensive to run than existing gas-fired or nuclear power stations.



The Cost of Running a Coal-Fired Power Station​

The table below shows the estimated running costs for various types of power station in 2018/19:



Type of Power Station Running Cost (£/MWh)

Coal 42.73

CCS Coal 46.93

Gas 41.68

Nuclear 39.65

Onshore Wind 39.14

Offshore Wind 58.37


The cost of running a coal-fired power station is significantly higher than the cost of running a gas-fired or nuclear power station. However, due to the UK's commitment to phasing out all coal-fired power stations by 2025, any new coal-fired power stations that are built must use CCS technology to capture and store the carbon dioxide they produce. CCS technology is very expensive, so any new coal-fired power stations that are built will be significantly more expensive to run than existing gas-fired or nuclear power stations.

At the end of the day, money talks. Only time will tell if coal mining will make a comeback in the UK. While there are some pros to the process, the cons seem to outweigh them. It would be interesting to see if the government changes its stance on coal mining as we move closer and closer to its goal of being carbon neutral by 2050.

What do you think? Let us know down in the comments!
 
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