The Anonymous Widower

Britain Powers On Without Coal For Three Days

The title of this post, as the same as that on this article on the BBC.

This is the first paragraph.

Britain has not generated electricity from coal for more than three days – the longest streak since the 1880s.

Let’s hope we keep out our commitment to phase out coal completely by 2025!

April 24, 2018 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

An Appropriate Story For Today

On Page 58, The Times has an article entitled Frictionless Flywheels Hold Balance Of Power.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Flywheels will be used to balance supply and demand on Britain’s electricity grid in a £3.5million project that could help the country to cope with more wind and solar power.

Sophisticated flywheels that can store electricity for long periods of time are to be installed next to the University of Sheffield’s battery storage facility at Willenhall near Wolverhampton, in the first project of its kind in the UK.

By using batteries and flywheels together, this makes a responsive battery that can fill in demand and overcome the degradation problems of lithium-ion batteries.

It looks a promising way of creating an affordable and reliable energy storage system.

Who needs coal? Trumkopf obviously does to buy votes!

In the United States, with its massive mountain ranges, it would be better to create construction jobs by creating hydro-based energy storage systems, as we did in the 1970s at Dinorwig and the Americans, themselves did at Bath County Pumped Storage Station a few years later.

To gauge the size of these plants, Bath County has about the same generating capacity as the UK’s largest power station at Drax, with Dinorwig being about 55% of the size.

Bath County and Dinorwig are big bastards, but their main feature, is the ability to pump water to store the energy.

Energy is like money, the best thing to do with excess is to put it in a secure storage facility.


June 2, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Should We Boycott America Over Trump And Cimate Change?

This article called Paris climate deal: Trump announces US will withdraw, has just appeared on the BBC web site.

I feel strongly that we should all cut our burning of fossil fuels, or at least the high carbon ones like coal.

So what can we do?

I typed “Boycott America Trump climate change” into Google and got a large number of articles posted in the last couple of days.

So I’m certainly not the only one who feels strongly!

So will I be boycotting American goods and services?

I always do to a certain extent, because when it comes to gluten-free foods, a lot of American manufacturers use high strength glucose made from wheat instead of sugar. And I react to it.

So for example, I now no longer eat any Cadbury products!

I also haven’t used a Starbucks for some time, but that’s in protest at their tax affairs.

It’ll be interesting how this one plays out!

After all, there’s quite a few Americans who didn’t vote for Trumkopf and some States appear to be going down the Paris route.

June 1, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , | 2 Comments

What Should We Do With Old Coal-Fired Power Station Sites?

As I indicated in The Beginning Of A New Era, the way we generate electricity is changing.

Wikipedia has a list of all the active coal-fired power stations in the UK. The section starts like this.

There are currently 9 active coal fired power stations operating in the United Kingdom which have a total generating capacity of 14.4GW. In 2016 three power stations closed at Rugeley, Ferrybridge and Longannet. In November 2015 it was announced by the UK Government that all coal fired power stations would be closed by 2025.

So what should we do with the sites?

This picture shows the power station site at Eugeley

This is a Google Map of the area.

The two stations shown on the map are Rugeley Trent Valley, which is on the the Trent Valley section of the West Coast Main Line and Rugeley Town, which is on the Chase Line.

Many of these large coal-fired  power station sites sites are rail connected, so that the coal could be brought in efficiently.

In the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways there is an article entitled Freight, Not All Doom And Gloom, which makes this plea.

Old coal-fired power stations and Ministry of Fefence sites with ready-made rail links, could make ideal distribution parks, if they are in the right part of the country.

The author is so right, when they say elsewhere in the article,  that these rail links must be kept.

Even, if a site was given over to housing, developers will say, that a good rail link to a development, improves their profits.

The article is an interesting read about moving goods by rail and contains a few surprises.

  • Moving coal and steel is well down, but to a certain extend, these bulk loads have been replaced by the moving of aggregates.
  • The article states forty percent of the materials used in London buildings, are now brought in by rail.
  • The supermarket groups and in particular Asda and Tesco are increasingly using rail for long-distance transport.
  • Short term Treasury policy sometimes works against long term aims of moving freight from the roads and cutting carbon emissions.
  • Quality 1980s passenger stock with wide doors might make excellent parcels carriers.

The last one is an interesting point, as HSTs have only got narrow doors, whereas pallets could be fork-lifted through the wide doors of something like a Class 319 or Class 321 train.

I discuss the small parcel train in detail in The Go-Anywhere Express Parcels And Pallet Carrier.


May 27, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Beginning Of The End For Coal In The UK

This article on the BBC is entitled First coal-free day in Britain since Industrial Revolution.

This is opening two paragraphs.

Britain went a full day without using coal to generate electricity for the first time since the Industrial Revolution, the National Grid says.

The energy provider said Friday’s lack of coal usage was a “watershed” moment.

Let’s hope it’s not a long goodbye.

Sadly, whilst there are people like Trumkopf about, it will be a long time before coal burning across the world descreases to a low level.

April 23, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Trump’s Plan Won’t Reverse Coal’s Decline

That is the title of this article on FiveThirtyEight.

It explains that coal’s problem is not Obama and his legislation, but that natural gas is so much

This is a paragraph.

Trump — along with many of his supporters in coal-producing states — blames Obama’s environmental policies for the coal industry’s struggles. And it’s true that U.S. coal consumption dropped precipitously during Obama’s time in office. But the timing is largely coincidental: Coal’s biggest problem isn’t regulation — it’s natural gas.

There are several interesting graphs worth looking at.

I think we should all be worried about Trump’s mental health, as he is showing all the logic of a typical East European mad dictator.

March 29, 2017 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

UK ‘Need Not Fear Electricity Blackouts’ Says Ex-National Grid Boss

This is the title of another article on the BBC.

This is said.

The UK has enough energy capacity to meet demand – even on the coldest days when demand is highest, says Steve Holliday, the man who ran National Grid for a decade.

He said news stories raising fears about blackouts should stop.

The article goes on to say how gas and coal-fired plants that would have been scrapped will fill any gaps.

They may do, but I have this feeling that energy users and especially big ones are much more savvy than they used to be and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the UK manage next winter without using coal, which produces a lot more CO2 and pollution, than natural gas.

I also think that after 2018, we’ll start to see new technologies and projects generating electricity or bringing it to the UK.

We might even have seen a start on the ICElik or Atlantic Superconnector, which will bring green electricity from Iceland to the UK.

January 30, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Trump And Charles In Climate Row

This is the headline on the front page of today’s Sunday Times.

Trump is not necessarily wrong about climate change, but cutting CO2 and other polluting emissions is prudent.

If a man met a gorgeous young lady on the back streets of say Marseilles or any other port city and she offers him flavours, then he would take precautions.

Trump said as much, when Putin was accusing him of various things, when he said he was paranoid about germs or something similar.

So it’s alright for him to take personal precautions, but the rest of the world can go get fucked.

There are some things we shouldn’t do, because they may be dangerous to the planet.

Burning coal is one of them, which Trump has said he will promote.

But then, if the United States continues to mine and burn coal, the pristine air of some parts of the country will disappear, just like it has in China.

I do wonder if President Trumkokf has even been to Beijing!


January 29, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Coal’s Economic Victims

Coal still claims victims, but these days, the biggest ones are economic and corporate.

In the United States, this article has been published on Bloomberg, with a title of Coal Slump Sends Mining Giant Peabody Energy Into Bankruptcy.

The article makes these points.

  • Biggest U.S. producer felled by cheap gas, China slowdown
  • Environmental costs could complicate miner’s reorganisation

How many US pensions have lost value because Peabody was considered a safe investment?

As fracked cheap gas is given as the reason for Peabody’s fall, don’t think that the US is swapping one dirty fuel for another!

  • When you burn coal, which is virtually pure carbon with impurities, you create a lot of carbon dioxide and spread the impurities, which are sometimes quite noxious over a wide area.
  • But natural gas is mainly methane, which is one carbon atom and four of hydrogen. So burning gas creates a lot of water, as well as less carbon.

I seem to remember that to get the same amount of heat energy from natural gas, as from a given quantity of coal, you only create about forty percent of the carbon dioxide.

This page on the US Energy Information Administration probably can lead you to the answer.

In the UK, there are two recent stories on Global Rail News.

Rail freight is going through a bit of a crisis in the UK, because we are burning much less coal in power stations.

As coal is moved to power stations by diesel-hauled trains in the UK, from open-cast sites and the ports, the burning of less coal in power stations is having a serious effect on rail freight companies.

At least, if any train drivers are made redundant, there are plenty of vacancies for drivers of passenger trains and I’ve yet to meet a freight train driver, you likes the dreaded Class 66 locomotives, with all their noise, vibration and smell, that generally pull coal trains.

But it’s not all bad news, as this article from the Railway Gazette, which is entitled Freightliner wagons use recycled coal hopper components, shows. This is said.

Freightliner has taken delivery of the first of 64 open wagons which are being built by Greenbrier Europe using bogies and brake components recovered from coal hoppers made redundant as a result of the decline in coal traffic.

Freightliner Heavy Haul needed a fleet of high capacity box wagons for a new contract to haul construction materials for Tarmac, and decided to investigate the possibility of using recycled parts from redundant Type HHA 102 tonne coal hoppers. With assistance from engineering consultancy SNC Lavalin, Freightliner and Greenbrier Europe identified that with some modifications the bogies and some of the braking equipment would be compatible with an existing design of Greenbrier box wagon.

To a small extent, the movement of aggregates around the country by rail instead of truck, is replacing the coal trains on the the railways.

October 21, 2016 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Did Aberfan Change My Thinking About Coal?

I have just watched a moving piece by John Humphrys on the BBC, which describes Aberfan now and compares it to what he remembers from fifty years ago.

Growing up in London, I remember the awful smogs of the 1950s caused by domestic coal smoke, so that might have had an affect on my thinking.

But I have been strongly anti-coal for as long as I can remember and I suspect that the tragedy of Aberfan, finally sealed its fate in my mind.

Coal mining tragedies used to happen regularly at that time all over the world and I probably felt it was just too high a price to pay for energy.

I must be one of the few people, who felt, through all of this country’s coal mining troubles of the latter twentieth-century, that the mines should be shut immediately.

I always remember an article in the Guardian, that stated that miners should be retrained into teams, that went round and insulated our pathetic housing stock. If you’ve ever put insulation into a roof, in some cases, it’s very much akin to Victorian coal-mining in reverse.

After all the greenest form of energy, is not to have to generate it in the first place.

I have solar panels on the flat roof of my three-bedroomed house, and even in the Autumn, I only use 50 KwH of electricity and 20 units of gas every week.


October 21, 2016 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment