V.Ryan © 2017

Coal has been ‘blamed’ for a range of pollutants, that are released into the air we breathe.

CO2 is emitted from power stations in large volumes (billions of tonnes) each year and this contributes significantly to poor air quality, but also to global warming.

Acid Rain and certain medical conditions, have been linked to emissions from coal fired power stations. Sulphur dioxide (SO2) forms acid particulates in the air and these are absorbed through our lungs, into the blood stream, causing ill health. In some cases, serious illnesses and even death have been blamed on this type of pollution. Further to this, acid rain is formed when the sulphur dioxide combines with water droplets. The resulting rain damages crops and forests.  
Nitrogen Oxide is another pollutant that causes health problems, in particular asthma and chronic bronchitis. Other pollutants emitted by coal power stations in lower volumes, are mercury, lead and cadmium, carbon monoxide and arsenic.


Technology has been developed, that is capable of removing some of the pollutants found in emissions, from ‘coal’ fired stations.

Emissions can be ‘scrubbed’, to remove sulphur. This is achieved by spraying a mixture of powdered limestone and water, into the emissions, absorbing sulphur, before it enters the atmosphere. Since the early 1980s, coal fired power stations have been fitted with ‘scrubbers’.

Coal is also ‘washed’ before it is used as a fuel. Coal is lighter than sulphur and the sulphur that is not chemically combined with the coal, sinks in a tank.

1. Many countries including the UK, have centuries of reserves of coal in the ground, a plentiful supply.
2. Mining technology is tried and tested and is affordable / cost effective.
3. There is a history and knowledge of mining in countries such as the UK, USA and China.
4. Coal mining once supported hundreds of communities and was an important part of local and national economics. This can be the case again.
5. Using home-mined coal, reduces our reliance on other countries, for the supply of gas and electricity to our homes and industry.
6. Industrial processes exist, that can convert coal into oil (and gas) and then into other very useful and important fuels such as petrol.
7. Modern coal fired power stations, have ‘scrubbers’ installed to remove some pollutants. Further research in taking place, to make them more effective. Environmental modernists claim that applying modern technology to environmental problems, we can solve the pollution issue.
8. If we rely on the supply of oil and gas from other countries, the ‘supplying’ Governments will try to apply political pressure by increasing their cost.
9. Oil is extremely polluting, if there is a ‘spill’ from a tanker. Using home mined coal reduces the number of oil tankers on the sea, reducing the potential for a catastrophic oil spill.
10. Mining coal and using it to produce electricity is cost effective, especially when compared to Nuclear Power and most Alternative Energy sources.
11. The UK has expertise in mining. This is expertise that can be exported to the world (called foreign earnings), helping to redress our negative balance of trade and our budget deficit.
12. Using more coal will reduce our natural gas consumption. Natural gas is an extremely valuable ‘finite’ fuel. It is shortsighted to use finite natural gas, to simply burn for heat in our homes and the production of electricity.
13. Using home mined coal, rather than expensive imports of oil and gas, will help to make our industry more competitive, especially those industries that are heavy users of energy.
14. Coal is one of several energy resources our country uses. If the supply of oil and gas was interrupted, we need to ensure that we have other sources of energy ready to step in. Therefore, coal is important for our energy security.
15. Coal mining supports other important industries such as engineering, through the need for mining equipment and the development of a skilled workforce.
16. Why should the UK reduce its consumption of coal, when other countries use vast amounts of coal to produce electricity, for example China and the USA?
17. Alternative energy is unreliable. For example, wind power does not supply electricity when it is not windy. Solar Power does not produce large amounts of electricity, when it is not sunny.