Memorandum submitted by the Confederation
of UK Coal Producers
The Confederation of UK Coal Producers (COALPRO)
represents the interests of coal producers throughout the UK.
Member companies collectively mine over 20 million tonnes of coal
per annum and employ about 10,000 people. We are pleased to have
this opportunity to respond to the Science and Technology Committee's
inquiry into energy R&D.
COALPRO is a member of the Advanced Power Generation
Technology Forum (APGTF), an Office of Science and Technology,
Foresight Associate Programme which provides a focus for those
with an interest in RD&D in the power generation sector, particularly
generation from fossil fuels. The Technology Forum has made a
submission on key RD&D issues to the DTI's Energy Policy Review.
COALPRO helped draft this submissions and is pleased to attach
a copy for your consideration.
COALPRO has also made its own submission to
the Energy Policy Review in which we make the following broad
Recognition that indigenous coal
production has a national security value.
Support UK coal producers under EU
State aid rules.
Environmental regulation that encourages
the cleaner use of coal, not an end to its use.
Accept the reality that coal is a
flexible and economic fuel for power generation.
A Clean Coal Obligation to support,
for example, new IGCC power stations.
There are some specific actions which COALPRO
recommends the Government takes immediately:
Do not implement the EU Large Combustion
Plants Directive any more rigorously than other Member States.
Remove the presumption against opencast
coal mining in Mineral Planning Guidance note 3 (and NPPG 16 in
Move ahead with the supercritical
boiler retrofit project at an existing coal-fired power station
as recommended by the DTI in its Review of the case for government
support for cleaner coal technology demonstration plant dated
13 December 2001.
Remove the 2006, 75% energy crop
requirement under the Renewables Obligation Order.
We attach COALPRO's initial submission to the
Energy Policy Review and a summary. I would draw your attention
to a few interesting points from these two papers:
The UK consumes less than 1.5% of
world coal production and is similarly responsible for less than
2% of global CO2 emissions. Unilateral, domestic action
will not solve the global problem of climate change.
If we assume that we are entering
a transition period leading "towards a non-carbon fuel economy",
then there must be a proper acceptance that this entails the continued
consumption of fossil fuels over the medium term (perhaps lasting
many decades). There is a real need to address the impact of this
consumption, yet the focus remains the endpoint, with vast sums
spent on renewable sources that simply do not have the capacity
to deliver even a small fraction of the energy that this country
On a consumption basis, UK CO2
emissions are rising, not falling as the Government reports.
There should be a linkage between
the Government's energy policy and waste strategy. A small number
of Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle power stations would
solve the country's waste disposal problem and allow a significant
reduction in the CO2 emissions from coal-fired power
With respect to the Science and Technology Committee's
inquiry, COALPRO has prepared the following comments against the
terms of reference:
1. To evaluate the level of expenditure on
RD&D in non-carbon energy technologies, by UK Government,
the Research Councils, the Carbon Trust and industry, and where
it is being directed
Where money is spent on RD&D to reduce carbon
emissions, it should be used to support a range of technologies
that achieve this aim. The focus of the funding bodies named is
now biased towards a single, long-term solution: renewable energy.
There is much work to be done to reduce the impact of fossil fuel
consumption, but this is largely ignored.
2. To identify which technologies are, or
should be, receiving support, and how much investment is directed
at research, development and demonstration respectively
The Governments policy on energy is to ensure
secure, diverse and sustainable supplies at a competitive cost.
Diversity demands a balance of energy sources for power generation
and transport. Therefore a wide range of technologies should be
supported at the RD&D stages. Technologies should include
those directed at reducing carbon emissions from fossil-fuel use:
eg IGCC, carbon capture and sequestration, production of hydrogen
from fossil fuels, and efficiency improvements at existing power
3. To assess the skills base and the state
of RD&D for different technologies
Environmental lobbying groups, such as Greenpeace,
Friends of the Earth and even the Government's own Environment
Agency, have been very successful with their publicity (eg the
emotive "what's in your backyard" campaign run by the
Environment Agency). Their position is rarely pragmatic, often
idealistic. Yet the "green" message is now so strong
that it has indoctrinated the very school children who are needed
to develop practical solutions. If the energy industries are continually
presented as polluting pariahs, then it is not surprising that
talent is not attracted into the industry. Compare the situation
in the UK with that of France where the public perception of nuclear
power is far more balanced.
4. To establish how Government policy on energy
RD&D is formulated, implemented and evaluated, and the nature
of coordination between department, external agencies and industry
There needs to be much greater industrial consultation
and involvement. However, concerns about breaking State aid rules
seem to stultify the Government. In other countries, governments
appear more supportive, using demonstration projects to stimulate
5. To establish the level of and rationale
for international collaboration in energy RD&D and how priorities
The Government cannot establish or maintain
a robust capability in energy technologies by relying on international
collaboration. We need to have national programmes to create the
expertise that will enable us to play a proper international role.
RD&D is essentially a competitive activity, we cannot expect
others to share, or even to partake in joint programmes unless
we have something to offer ourselves.
6. To examine the effect on energy RD&D
of privatisation, liberalisation, regulation and changes in ownership
in the sector
The well-regarded research establishments of
the CEGB and British Coal have not been replaced under private
ownership of the electricity and coal industries. Cost cutting
measures have seen more and more engineers leave all parts of
the energy industry which has had a negative effect on RD&D.
Compare this with the well-funded Federal Energy Technology Center,
Gas Research Institute and Electric Power Research Institute in
the USA. The government's liberalisation policy needs to be balanced
with incentives that encourage investment in technological development.
7. To make comparisons with overseas competitors
The USA is committed to spending $2 billion
on clean coal technologies over the next 10 years. This should
be compared with a UK spend of less than £5 million per annum
and shows how serious the USA is in reducing the impacts of coal
consumption (US Department of Energy, National Energy Policyreport
of the National Energy Policy Development Group, May 2001). In
Germany, government and industry are working closely together
to continue a programme that has seen a steady improvement in
the efficiency of coal-fired power stations (Emaxstrategy
study for the realisation of a fossil-fired power plant with high
efficiency, project no. 232, VGB PowerTech, 2002).
25 September 2002
8 Not published. Back