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Britain May Not Need Coal, But Still Relies On Gas

April 29, 2020

By Paul Homewood


I wish somebody could tell why there is such an obsession with coal power!



Given that most of our coal capacity has already been wiped out, it is little surprise that coal power has declined to next to nothing.

But what the Mail inconveniently also points out is that it is now gas which is doing the heavy lifting instead of coal:



Worse still for the proponents of renewable energy, who are behind this press release, it is only because of gas that we have managed to balance generation with demand, as wind and solar power ebb and flow:




According to the article:

Gareth Redmond-King, head of climate change at WWF-UK, said: ‘We urgently need to end the UK’s contribution to climate change, and this is an important milestone on our journey.

‘This is the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution – we have been burning fossil fuels longer than anybody else, and we have benefited hugely from it.

‘Now we are showing real climate leadership and breaking records for coal-free power, year on year, as we try to build a greener future.

‘Renewable energy sources now generate an incredible one-third of UK power, proving we can adapt to live without damaging the planet we call home. There is no room for coal in a net-zero future.’ 


A third of the renewables he quotes, of course, includes dirty biomass, which is neither clean nor low carbon. And there is no evidence that wind and solar will ever replace fossil fuels, as they are not dispatchable.

  1. Chaswarnertoo permalink
    April 29, 2020 10:07 am

    Insane. Clown world. Iatrogenic CO2 is no problem. It’s beneficial, and tiny.

  2. JimW permalink
    April 29, 2020 10:18 am

    The problem will be if the wind gets up this week with such low demand. Grid will have a hell of a job keeping the frequency of the system in the required range. Rolling power cuts could well ensue.

  3. April 29, 2020 10:33 am

    Gridwatch Midnight 1st April to 1020 on 29th April:

    Renewables 35.93%
    Imported 9.88%
    Nuclear 20.34%
    Gas 33.27%
    Coal 0.58%

    Amazing how that 0.58% gets lost as a rounding error.

    • April 29, 2020 10:53 am

      Apologies, that will teach me to actually read the article rather than jumping to conclusions. 20 days and counting.

    • bobn permalink
      April 29, 2020 11:49 am

      10% being imported while demand is low? Have we learnt less about energy security than we have about bio-security?

  4. Nicholas Lewis permalink
    April 29, 2020 10:40 am

    The most appalling thing about this is that Biomass is deemed renewable and im astonished that almost nobody i talk with in my family and social groups understand how its derived and the ecological damage its causing both in the US and to air from its transport.

    • Adam Gallon permalink
      April 29, 2020 10:50 am

      Cos it’s green innit?
      No different to you & me picking up bits of dead wood, to burn.

  5. Douglas Brodie permalink
    April 29, 2020 10:54 am

    It could have been a very different story if the low electricity demand had coincided with windless, sunless conditions, as may well happen before the coronavirus crisis is over.

    No mention of the coal used to generate our electricity imports (9% of the electricity total according to Paul’s chart), nor the fossil fuels used to produce and deliver all our imports, both of which the government conveniently omits to include in its statistics. The “hidden emissions” of imports accounted for 46% of the UK’s overall carbon footprint last year according to a report by the University of Leeds, see

    This highlights the madness of “net zero emissions” because if the green nutters in power did actually persuade the rest of the world to follow suit, which they won’t, all our imports would dry up and we could have to use our own energy to produce them ourselves, using windmills!

    • Douglas Brodie permalink
      April 29, 2020 10:57 am

      Oops, forget the first para. The danger is low demand with high strong wind and sun.

    • Broadlands permalink
      April 29, 2020 1:48 pm

      “A third of the renewables he quotes, of course, includes dirty biomass, which is neither clean nor low carbon. And there is no evidence that wind and solar will ever replace fossil fuels, as they are not dispatchable.”

      There is nothing renewable about a solar panel or a wind turbine. Both will be replaceable as they lose efficiency, wear out, break down. What will one do with huge ‘farms’ of these things if they are scaled up globally? The world’s largest junk car lot? Unintended consequences have consequences if fossil fuels are eliminated to net-zero.

  6. Adam Gallon permalink
    April 29, 2020 10:55 am

    The only surprise, is with demand being so low, we needed coal at all.
    Looking at, demand in April 2013 was 33.7GW, in April 2020, 26.2GW averages.

  7. sid permalink
    April 29, 2020 11:05 am

    Isnt some of the imported power coal based/

    • April 29, 2020 5:24 pm

      Apparently, about 80% of electricity in the Netherlands is generated from using fossil fuels, 6% from burning biomass and waste. We are currently importing nearly 3% of our electricity from there. In France about 80% is generated from nuclear and fossil fuels. We are currently importing about 6% of our electricity from there. In Belgium, about 80% of electricity is generated from non-renewable sources and we are currently importing nearly 3% of our electricity from there.

  8. Joe Public permalink
    April 29, 2020 11:36 am

    Coal is used not only for generation, but crucially for it’s spinning inertia, frequency management and voltage management.

    Consequently, coal had to be burnt virtually non-stop from 1st Oct last year until 8th March this year. Not only for those ‘free’ ancillary services, but as insurance should there be another simultaneous shut-down of other capacity like those which caused embarrassing blackouts on 9th August last year. [A lesson learnt!]

    • Joe Public permalink
      April 29, 2020 11:40 am

      Oh dear, I didn’t realise Paul had posted the above table in his subsequent post!

      • Gerry, England permalink
        April 30, 2020 10:49 am

        I think they playing loose with the truth in the table as there should be a lot more red NOs in place of the wishful thinking orange. This would bluntly display the part played by real generation showing that ONLY thermal and pumped storage tick all the boxes.

      • Stuart Brown permalink
        April 30, 2020 11:55 am

        Yes indeed, Gerry, how is a wind turbine supposed to participate in offering reserve power? By taking less constraint payment?

        And black start with wind turbines if they are taking their frequency from the grid – and there’s no grid? On the other hand I noticed the Aussies have a battery system that does synthetic inertia rather than frequency following (Dalrymple Battery Energy Storage System), so maybe.

        And why do the nukes not bid for frequency management? Tonnes of whirling metal ought to be able to do a good job on that front, but I need to do more reading clearly. (I do understand that these are specific services that operators bid to provide rather than just features)

        I’m getting closer to the idea of buying a generator as insurance, something water cooled into the house heating and running from a ruddy great propane cylinder. Or maybe a steam engine. For when they cut the gas off too…

  9. jack broughton permalink
    April 29, 2020 12:01 pm

    It is all very well to claim that gas replaces coal but we have to earn foreign currency to buy that, which was not the case with coal. The eco-loons have no concern for the implications on the well being of the poorest people, who are the ones that really suffer from economic downturns: the world outside of Europe can see this clearly, why cannot our “decision makers” and press?

    The UK could easily produce 10m tpa coal from open cast mining (about 10 % of historical coal production): when Carbon-sense is seen Drax will be converted back to coal and some of the existing coal fired boilers, like Fiddlers Ferry, Eggborough and possibly Ferrybridge will revert to economic power generation, provided that the loons have not managed to get them demolished by then (part of their plan of course).

  10. Trevor Shurmer permalink
    April 29, 2020 12:20 pm

    Paul, preaching to the converted is great, but as far as I can see, the misconceptions, mis-reporting and brainwashing is only increasing. I’d like to know how on Earth you (we) can get through to those that count. Even the GWPF, who must have influence in high places, can’t do it. I’m getting quite depressed about the whole thing really, and with schools getting entrenched in the somewhat warped ideology, and with no TV channels prepared to go against the perceived wisdom of the ‘climate scientists’, how are we going to prevent this steam roller?

    • Broadlands permalink
      April 29, 2020 1:29 pm

      Trevor has hit the nail on the head! The world has been convinced by computer models that adding CO2 to the atmosphere will lead to a ‘climate emergency’. Until this view can be reversed by those with real influence in ‘high’ places it will continue. How this can be done is the dilemma. The covid-19 virus has brought to light what happens to people and economies when carbon fuel emissions are quickly lowered in transportation. This should be a wake-up call that any continued reduction in emissions after the pandemic is contained will produce the same damaging results. But it hasn’t. Onward to Net-zero!

    • Douglas Brodie permalink
      April 29, 2020 4:54 pm

      I’m feeling slightly more positive despite the fact that nearly all the powers that be (bar Trump) have lost their senses over “climate change”. It’s only a matter of time before they realise (or admit) that decarbonisation is technically infeasible and that our world civilisation is utterly (85%) dependent on fossil fuels. The Michael Moore anti-renewables documentary is a good help on this. The slump in electricity demand makes power cuts more likely due to an excess of renewables supplying the grid (which was going to happen eventually anyway), which will antagonise the general public. The slump in oil and gas prices makes renewables even less competitive while it lasts.

      Coronavirus may assist. If it causes a global economic slump with a big fall in fossil fuel consumption yet atmospheric CO2 keeps on rising because CO2 levels lag temperatures, not the other way around, that will destroy their main argument. If they ignore that they will still have to spell out just how much more draconian than coronavirus the future cuts will have to be to reach their “net zero” targets. Decarbonisation is a rich society’s expensive luxury which will be much more difficult for a coronavirus-indebted world to pursue when it is already suffering from fuel poverty due to past climate policy. The Western establishment would also have to get the rest of the world to follow suit, which will never happen. COP26 may bring that to a head if it ever takes place.

      The other thing is that global temperatures might stop rising although in the short term that seem not to be happening, apparently due to ongoing El Ninos (and we know how pointless it is trying to explain to alarmists that such short-term effects are not proof of “climate change”). If the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation which seemed to govern global climate change throughout the last century were to enter a prolonged cooling phase the alarmists would surely have to give up their obsession.

    • April 29, 2020 7:28 pm

      “I’d like to know how on Earth you (we) can get through to those that count”

      That, of course Trevor, is THE crux of the whole shebang. I’ve been depressed about this very question for years – and incessantly searching across the internet for some glimmer of light or hope. I wrote to my (ex) MP (admittedly then Limp Dumb) how MPs and their advisers got their information and from where. He kindly replied with a long scroll about needing to incorporate ”energy mixes” etc! I got nowhere. They are either totally brainwashed, blind or too afraid to stand up and tell the truth – for fear of what will happen to them and their future.

      It really does need somebody with conviction, facts at their fingertips and a very strong personality and charisma to take the lead and able to withstand the vitriol which would ensue. The only person who comes to mind is someone like Nigel Farage who, one could argue, has already ‘saved’ GB once – from Europe. But so far he hasn’t shown an interest afaik.

      Until such a person steps forward, I think it’s just a waiting game.

  11. Mark Hodgson permalink
    April 29, 2020 2:14 pm

    “‘Renewable energy sources now generate an incredible one-third of UK power”.

    That old lie again. No, it generates 1/3 of UK electricity (on a good day, at the right time of year, when demand is low, and “renewables” output is high), which is maybe 10% of UK power?

    • Vincent Booth permalink
      April 30, 2020 8:21 am

      Mark, well said, gas also provides energy for the heating of homes and is used for many industrial processes. The old lie that renewables provide one-third of our energy as you point out it is for electricity generation only. In 2018 wind and solar provided the UK with 70 terawatt-hours of energy. 7.9% of the total 880 TWh of the UK energy supplied by gas. Wind and solar are intermittent, very variable, and have to be backed up by gas-fuelled or coal-fired generation.

  12. Iain Reid permalink
    April 30, 2020 7:59 am

    Coal is an alternative fuel that we can rely on.
    As we well know severe winters put a large strain on our gas supplies and they will be carrying the burden of demand of electrical generation (Wind being typically weak in such weather conditions and solar is non existent at high demand times.)
    Why are politicians incapable of understanding the simplest things?
    All they seem to be able to do is virtue signal, and indications from our currnet government are not good as they are still pushing the green agenda.

    The media show a distinct lack of knowledge in this field and Jillian Ambrose in the Guardian (Of course) had a similar piece about no coal generation for x days.

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