Need For Coal

Safe, responsible and efficient

Coal is still used for power generation in the UK.  Currently coal generates anything from 1 per cent to 12 per cent of the UK’s electricity.  This figure fluctuates depending upon the weather conditions and demand.  Unabated coal fired power stations are due to come offline by 2025 under the Government’s current plans.

However in addition to using coal for generating electricity, coal is a valuable mineral resource that is used for a variety of other purposes including: Iron and steel manufacture; cement manufacture; coke manufacture; domestic heat generation; food production; patent fuel manufacture (smokeless briquettes); carbon fibre products manufacture and other uses. In the last 10 years around 10 million tonnes per annum of coal has been needed in the UK for non-electricity generation purposes.

The bar chart on the left shows the amount of coal used for non-power generating purposes in the UK for 2006 to 2015. For the source of the the figures see our Links page.

(1) Non power generating uses of coal, as defined by the UK government, include iron and steel manufacture; cement manufacture; coke manufacture; domestic heat generation; food production; patent fuel manufacture (smokeless briquettes); carbon fibre products manufacture and other uses.

We believe in a low carbon economy. Coal is a crucial bridge to that low carbon economy.

  • The UK coal fired power station fleet currently generates around 14.5MW of electricity in the UK per annum. Figures for 2015 show that between 20 and 33 per cent of the UK’s electricity was generated from coal. Coal’s share of generation is down to 15.8 per cent for Q1 2016. For the source of the the figures see our Links page.
  • Whilst the country develops a range of alternative ways to generate power it is essential that the supply of indigenous coal is maintained. Coal is a vital bridge to the low carbon economy. Currently the UK imports over 70 per cent of the coal used to generate electricity in the UK from Russia, Colombia, the USA and Australia. In previous years it has been more than 80 per cent. For the source of the the figures see our Links page.
  • In 2014 the net cost to the UK of these coal imports was around £1.8bn. In 2013 it was £2.7bn. In 2015 it was £730m. The line graph above right gives the values of UK coal production and imports for 2010 to 2015. For the source of the the figures see our Links page.

This is why the development of new surface coal mines is so important. By mining our own coal we:

    • Increase the security of supply of power by reducing reliance on foreign countries for imported fuel
    • Help keep consumer bills low
    • Create jobs in the UK
    • Help the balance of trade deficit
    • Provide valuable tax receipts and business rates to national and local government
    • Reduce the distance coal has to travel, thereby saving carbon in transportation
    • Ensure it is mined in a safe manner to the highest environmental standards
    • Support local businesses who provide support services to surface mines
    • Keep money and skills within the UK

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