Underground coal gasification – fuelling the fires

It was announced yesterday that Thornton New Energy has been granted the UK’s first licence from the Coal Authority to use a process called underground coal gasification. Steve Walters, a director of Aberdeen-based Thornton New Energy, a subsidiary of BCG Energy, said that producing electricity from gas generated underground from coal allowed it to be processed so that CO2 could be removed, ensuring very low emissions.

Thornton plans to drill into massive untapped seams under Fife and the Firth of Forth and convert coal into combustible gas while it is still underground. The article goes on to explain that the gas can then be used for electricity generation, industrial heating and even the manufacture of hydrogen or ultra clean diesel fuel. So, it’s ‘business as usual’, as usual!

What is UCG?
The article doesn’t explain exactly what underground coal gasification (UCG) is, but a nice wee diagram on BCG’s website shows something called an ‘ignition well’. Hmmm, let’s Google.

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Banned in Denmark but OK here?

What would you do if you wanted to test carbon capture technology on dirty old coal but couldn’t do it in your own country? Yes, try it here in Scotland! According to an article in the Sunday Herald, the Hunterston proposal would not be permitted in Denmark because it causes too much climate-wrecking pollution. Environmentalists, experts and Danish politicians say that Dong Energy, based in Copenhagen, would not be allowed to build the kind of carbon-emitting plant it is proposing for the North Ayrshire port of Hunterston in its home country. But here in Scotland, we have a Government which thinks coal is great and a fuel of the future. Worse still, overall energy policy is reserved to Westminster, where hopes are hung not just on so-called clean coal but also on nuclear power. Houston – we have a problem… Continue reading

Tennessee coal ash disaster

On Monday, December 22 around 1:00 a.m., residences near the Kingston coal plant near Harriman, East Tennessee, were flooded with over a billion gallons of nasty black coal waste. The toxic coal sludge covered 400 acres of land up to 6 feet and flooded into tributaries of the Tennessee River – the water supply for Chattanooga and millions of people living downstream in Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.

This is a massive environmental disaster that didn’t get much coverage in the US let alone anywhere else – thanks to Keith for alerting us. America is now well aware of what has happened, thanks to good old cyber-activism, and the internet is buzzing with feedback and updates, including an interview with one of the campaigners working on this disaster, a sizable entry on Wikipedia and lots of other reports and footage.

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Ho, ho, ho – Santa invades E.On

With 7 new coal fired power stations planned across the UK, Santa Claus’s naughty list is longer than ever. So Santa and a group of jolly helpers started early this year at E.On’s Head Office. Unfortunately there were no presents in store! Only lumps of horrid coal for all their naughtiness. Here’s what happened…


Ravenstruther action leads to jury trial in Lanark

This Direct Action is catching on! At 6am on Monday 15 December, 22 campaigners from yet another new anti-coal group, Coal Action Scotland, together with local residents, blockaded the entrance to the Scottish Coal-operated Ravenstruther coal rail terminal, near Lanark.  Coal Action Scotland is a part of the Coal Action Network that connects many of the groups campaigning and taking action against the coal industry across the UK. 

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Who were those guys?

Here’s a south of the border mystery, but none the less interesting for that. According to The Times, Kingsnorth coal power plant in Kent was partially shut down for four hours last Friday night after ‘persons unknown’ scaled an electric fence, entered a secure area and switched off one of four turbines supplying London and the South East. They then made  a successful escape, pausing only to leave a series of messages opposing new coal power stations strewn across the turbine hall. It may have been a lone operator – the Guardian refers to ‘green Banksy’.

Apparently 500MW of generating capacity was lost to the national grid for about four hours after turbine Unit Two was shut down – 2 per cent of total UK consumption at the time, and enough to power a city the size of Bristol.
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SANC meets Culross residents

Telling it like it is - SANC pay a visit to Culross

In the shadow of Longannet - SANC pay a visit to Culross

On a chilly Saturday (29 November, to be exact), SANC went to meet the residents of Culross, a lovely village near to Longannet power station in Fife. In 4 hours we managed to survey 59 people – Culross is quite small and does not have a bustling shopping centre so we were delighted with 59! In summary, 86% were concerned about climate change; 59% knew coal was the dirtiest of the fossil fuels; 59% did not think that life of Longannet should be extended as is; and 81% preferred renewables over nuclear. The results weren’t a huge surprise – the main purpose was to make contact with those living near to Longannet. We hope to conduct similar surveys in other towns as it is a good way to meet people and understand their concerns.