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Wonderful stuff. Good job.

These are welcome comments from Alan Duncan.

The Conservative Party's very own energy expert, Tony Lodge, has been making these points effectively on these pages - and in the national media - over the last few years.

Investment in clean coal technology, combined with nuclear, will lock in our energy security needs as well as providing long term supply. Increasing supply is important, as Mr Lodge has pointed out, in reducing prices and tackling fuel poverty, which has doubled under this Government.

"but it's a depressing indication of how we have ceded international leadership on this critical technology."

So what's new? Isn't this always the case with the British state and British business?

The Conservative party does not yet have a coherent policy on energy but the pronouncements of the Tory leaders indicate that it is moving ever closer to the UKIP policy which was published in January and has been available on the UKIP website since then.

So those of us who helped formulate the UKIP policy must have done a good job. Perhaps an acknowledgement might be appropriate.


See: http://tinyurl.com/e2m9n for the way forward.

The UK has proved coal reserves of around 220 million tonnes however total reserves could be well in excess of 1 billion tones and yet the EU Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD) means that we will actually lose 8GW of output by 2015. This loss of output equates to 1,679 monstrous carbuncle wind turbines (http://tinyurl.com/6e7fnx).

Well done Mr. Duncan.

Has anyone told Zac?

Let's get on with it, Tories please come up with some market based solutions / incentives

By the way, the photograph at the head of this thread shows water vapour escaping from cooling towers and NOT smoke from coal. The BBC does this all the time but please, Conservative Home, don’t make the same mistake again!

David Cameron has made it clear that there will be no new coal in this country without CCS technology working from the outset, so there is no disagreement here between green and true blue Tories.
At the rate China and India are burning coal, if we dont get CCS working in the next 15 years we will all be toast by 2050, so great to see the Party taking a lead on this tech.
Clean environment and strong economy yet again two sides of the same coin

Thats water vapour in the photograph , not smoke.

I agree. England does need a dynamic energy policy. What the celts do is up to them.

"Let's get on with it, Tories please come up with some market based solutions / incentives"

That would require an energy policy and an industrial policy, the latter of the two might be difficult for the British political establishment only think along one line of 'what other assets can we flog off or allowed to be flogged off', actually developing an industrial base or building up strategic industries doesn’t fall within their electoral horizons


At last. An outbreak of commonsense. Coal and nuclear must be the answer and let`s forget about solar panels (this isn`t Spain) and those unsightly and useless wind turbines spoiling our countryside.

This is very welcome news.

"...actually developing an industrial base or building up strategic industries doesn’t fall within their electoral horizons"

Which is yet another reason why I cannot support the modern Conservative Parity.

Energy, like transport, is a strategic industry and going for the quick buck here today and gone tomorrow market based solution will not work as we can surely now see from the results of John Major's disastrous "Dash for Gas" (continued under Tony Blair).

Markets can only work where there is a genuine market.

Carbon capture is a massive red herring - expensive, untried and extravagent in its use of energy. How interesting it is, therefore, that it is being siezed upon as the latest panacea.

A far better option, according to some serious energy experts I've been talking to, would be to go for a hundred percent nuclear capacity for electricity generation and to use the excess during the off-peak periods to power underground coal gasification, feeding that product into the gas national grid. See here.

To use coal for electricity production - with or without carbon capture - when the longer-term strategic shortage is in our gas supplies, is both dangerous and short-sighted.

You've missed the point about coal being unacceptable to "these environmentalists".

Unabated coal - without carbon capture and storage - is unacceptable. But you will struggle to find many environmentalists who will object to a plant with fully functioning CCS.

I personally am a huge fan of the Conservatives policy on CCS and an emissions performance standard for new power stations.

Sorry - that should read "the environmentalists".

Thanks for the clarification Benet and I'm looking forward to lunch tomorrow!

I agree that there is potential for clean coal in an energy policy that considers three criteria - energy security, energy economy and energy safety (lowering the nation's carbon footprint and avoiding wider environmental issues).

However, my understanding is that currently clean coal only significantly meets one of these goals, energy security, with any certainty.

I understand, there are still significant cost and environmental concerns surrounding this technology (along the lines of nuclear waste disposal). Until these are addressed to a much greater level, I am unconvinced that this should be at the heart of our long-term energy policy. We do not want to create yet another set of foreseeable problems for future generations (as this and previous governments have done for political expediency). I'd also be interested to know why the US Government pulled out of FutureGen.

However, that said it still seems to have significant potential and should be developed with a view to be part of a multi-faceted mixed energy policy (nuclear, hydro, geothermal and to a lesser extent solar combined with a comprehensive policy for energy efficiency and demand reduction).

What is clear is that it has far more potential than wind power. The country would be better served if the investment in wind power was redirected toward the alternatives mentioned above including clean coal.

Why is it that Governments always seem to choose the worst options (wind power, vegetable bio-fuels etc.)?

On a separate issue if the Conservatives want to signal that they are intent on addressing the nation's energy needs then it should consider and perhaps commit to (at some time before the GE) reinstating the Department Of Energy as a separate entity with a Minister at Cabinet level.

Now having written this I have just had an image of Arthur Scargill addressing some future Conservative Party Conference! It could never happen surely?

I'm going to take a couple of tablets and have a lie down......

There does seem to be an element of "disconnect" here. Carbon capture doubles the capital cost of building a coal-fired station, increases energy consumption by 25 percent and then increases the operating cost by upwards of sixty percent.

Since, currently, eighty percent of the coal used for electricity production is imported - and nearly half of that from Russia - we have in carbon capture a policy which will increase our usage or raw materials, massively increase our electricity bills and also reduce our energy security.

And this is an intelligent policy?

The so-called experts who say that Britain has plentiful supplies of coal seem to forget that even when we mined our own coal, many power stations preferred to take supplies from overseas, better cheaper and more reliable. Where are all these British miners going to come from? Mining is a filthy job, and with H&S and the rest I can't see it being viable these days. The alternative is to extract the methane in the mines and trapped in the coal seams, a process that could involve pumping sequeseter CO2 into the seas to displace the methane.

I don't follow the logic of using excess nuclear capacity to gasify coal. A better use would be to use the excess nighttime baseload to charge the batteries on electric vehicles - no mess and no CO2.

The logic is that we have considerable reserves of coal and a strategic shortage of gas.

As you rightly say, opening up mines for conventional coal extraction would be highly problematical. Underground gasification would provide a considerable source of indigenous gas for domestic use, thereby increasing our energy security.

This gas can also be used by cars, either directly or after conversion into liquid fuel.

Two slightly off the point questions concerning energy security
(a) How labour intensive will the new coal-mines be? How will industrial relations be managed? Will the unhappy miners of the Ukraine be welcome as mining-labour in an expanded EU?
(b) How far advanced is military planning to defend our nascent oil-drilling programmes in the Falklands and South Georgia?

Regarding article - absolutely spot on. The Govt has failed big time. Britain has had the leading engineers in new coal technologies from underground gasification to carbon capture and yet again we risk losing the lead, if its not too late already. As to the environment, many countries are going to build coal powered stations, especially China so the best chance to reduce CO2 is to get this technology in place. It also means the first country to do it gets the orders for the technology and a lucrative export market. Some of us have been saying this for years now.

There is no such thing as clean coal, only cleaner coal. Almost all the economically recoverable deep coal in the UK has gone. The only economic coal left is opencast, which the middle-class trendy greenies hate. Nuclear is the only viable option for us, with some coal and gas turbine as back-up/peak-lopping capacity.

The 'all of the above' approach advocated by the Lexington Project makes for interesting reading. http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/Issues/17671aa4-2fe8-4008-859f-0ef1468e96f4.htm

A more detailed response.

Clean coal, nuclear, and renewable energy such as wind farms and tidal power probably should have a role in helping us to be energy self-sufficient, and secure, and less dependent on imported energy supplies from unstable and unreliable regions in the world.

As for tidal power, I once heard (can't remember where) that a Severn Tidal Barrage could power an entire electrified railway system. I wonder if this is correct.

Tidal power is a big opportunity although the Severn scheme, if a barrage, has other serious problems. Better would be to explore tidal stream turbines and offshore lagoons. This is a big growth area and like clean coal we need to be in at the beginning, helping the environment and gaining export profits for the UK.

We already have enough nuclear fuel stockpiled in this country to keep two 1.5GW nuclear power stations supplied for sixty years.

At modest cost, we could acquire and or process enough nuclear fuel to supply all our electricity needs for 100 years - more so if we develop thorium as a fuel, of which there is a near inexhaustible supply.

That would give us a secure, cheap supply of electricity and allow us the freedom to keep up with the generating technology as it develops.

The "dirty secret" behind the energy issue, therefore, is that there is no shortage of the means to generate cheap, secure electricty. The problem is not technical or a matter of scarce resources - it is entirely a political problem.

Given that, why do we need to mess about with "alternative technology" when the answer is staring us in the face and all that is needed is the political will to implement the solution?

Question: If France is producing 78% of its power via nuclear now, with presumably old reactors of the non-pebble sort, it must be producing a lot of waste. Where is it going? Information seems a bit light.
The CCS seems not to have confidence of posters here. China though is going for it.
Interesting that South Africa, that has huge supplies of coal, enough to convert coal to petrol (SASOL) is looking at nuclear. What are the interests there pro-nuclear and anti-nuclear?

"Tidal power is a big opportunity although the Severn scheme"

The Severn barrage would generate 5% of our energy needs, in other words about enough to cope with the population growth we have seen in the last decade from immigration.

Would joined up policies be too much to ask from our political class?

Am no expert, so don`t know which way we should go. I just think if we don`t do something pretty soon the lights will go out.

If you want an overview of the Severn Barrage, read Christopher Booker:

“But the Government also knows that we haven't a chance of meeting that target by building 10,000 ludicrously expensive, largely useless wind turbines. Hence its recent revival of the scheme to provide '5 per cent of our power' by building a £20 billion tidal barrage across the Severn Estuary - a vast concrete wall from Weston-super-Mare to Wales.

It is amazing how little the fans of this quixotic dream recognise what it would involve. Its 300 turbines would, we are told, have a 'generating capacity' of '8,640 megawatts (MW)'. But, as even the Sustainable Development Commission tacitly recognises on its website, these would generate, thanks to the variation of the tides, only 22 per cent of capacity, namely 1,900MW. That is £10 million per MW, even more than the £8 million per MW of those ridiculous offshore wind turbines.

One modern nuclear power station, costing £2.7 billion, could generate almost as much electricity as the barrage, at barely an eighth of the cost. (The barrage would also need several new power stations as back-up for when the tides are not generating.)

But if we did decide to build the barrage to meet our renewables obligation, its impact on wildlife, particularly the birds that feed in their millions on the Severn's tidal mudflats, would render it illegal under the EU's habitats directive. Forget the barrage (and our renewables target, since it is not remotely achievable) and let the Government, even if it must use 'climate change' as an excuse, build those reactors before the lights go out.”

Richard North @12.51,

As a mater of interest, are any statistics available, relating to existing tidal barrage installations and how they have performed?

The only one of which I have any personal experience, as a sailor, is the Rance, in Brittany, which created a mini inland sea
between Dinard and Dinon, which was quite a major scheme and, presumably, should give some initial indication of the viability (and ecological impact) of tidal power generation.

Tidal power has a lot of potential, especially as part of a balanced plan with coal etc. It is not as intermittant as wind, the tide comes in and out without fail. Structures, such as lagoons, can also be used to protect the coastline (rather than let it disappear into the sea) and provide vital regeneration of coastal resorts eg marinas etc.

"As a mater of interest, are any statistics available, relating to existing tidal barrage installations and how they have performed?"

The performance of tidal barrages comes down to capital cost, the price of the money you tie up in the project.

La Range has functioned at 90% since the 70's putting out 450GWh per year.

Ther example of the Severn barrage I've seen costed in 1989 would put out 17TWh for a construction cost of £8.28 billion, and calculated that a dicount rate of 2% would mean the basic capital cost equates to a 1.05pKh. 5% = 2.25pKh. 8% = 3.42pKh. 10% = 4.15pKh.

In principle I would like to see nearly all power generation coming from nuclear. Recent developments in nanosafe lithium batteries make electric vehicles feasible too. But what's to say nuclear won't be more expensive than the alternatives? Advocates need to back up their arguments with hard figures.

"...its impact on wildlife, particularly the birds that feed in their millions on the Severn's tidal mudflats, would render it illegal under the EU's habitats directive. "

I don't understand this. A tidal barrage is not like a dam, it doesn't permanently submerge a huge area.
The mudflats will still exist, and the only differene the birds will notice is that high tides and low tides will be an hour or two later than they used to be.
I doubt they will care.

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