Need For Coal

Safe, responsible and efficient

Coal is still used for electricity generation in the UK. Please see our Links page for references to various official Government statistics about the uses of coal in the UK.

Figures fluctuate depending upon the weather conditions and demand.  In the so called “beast from the East” cold snap in early March 2018 (w/c 26 February 2018) electricity generated by coal fired power stations accounted for over a quarter of the total electricity produced each day. Please click here for the official statistics.

Unabated coal fired power stations are due to come offline by 2025 under the Government’s current plans.

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; sugar production; food and beverage production; patent fuel manufacture (smokeless briquettes); carbon fibre products manufacture and other uses. In the last 11 years around 9 million tonnes per annum of coal has been needed in the UK for non-electricity generation purposes. (The mean average from 2006 to 2016 of coal used in the UK for non-electricity generation purposes was 9.3 million tonnes).

We are proud that some of the coal we have produced from our North East mines has been supplied to Tata Steel in South Wales, where it has been used to make steel. In turn some of this steel (the appropriate grade) has then been supplied to Nissan Sunderland in the North East where it has been used to make cars such as the Qashqai, the Juke and the all electric Leaf.

The bar chart on the left shows the amount of coal used for non-power generating purposes in the UK for 2006 to 2015. Please see our Links page for references to various official Government statistics about coal.

(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; sugar production; food and beverage 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 typically generates around between one and 10 per cent of electricity in the UK per day. Some days in 2017 the coal fired power station fleet in the UK did not generate any electricity. Please see our Links page for references to various official Government statistics about coal.
  • 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 around 50 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. Please see our Links page for references to various official Government statistics about coal. In 2016 UK imports were 8.5 million tonnes (the lowest value for 15 years), a decrease of 62 per cent on 2015 due to lower demand from generators (Table 2.4, page 40, of National Statistics Energy Trends: solid fuels and derived gases). In 2016 Columbia was the UK’s largest supplier of coal imports with a share of 31 per cent. The other main suppliers were Russia with a 27 per cent share and USA with a 17 per cent share (Table 2B, page 41). Again, please see our Links page for references to various official Government statistics about coal.
  • 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. Again, please see our Links page for references to various official Government statistics about coal.

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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