first thoughts: power and anarchy


THE GOVERNMENT’S white paper on energy is expected early in 2003. The anarchy, bank-ruptcy and uncertainty affecting the electricity utility companies is well documented (see feature, p6). The death rattle of the coal indus-try seems to be unheard in Downing Street.

There are 16 deep coal mines open in Britain. One, Ellington, has a life expectancy of five years. Three have a life expectancy of ten years: Clipstone, Thorseby and Wellbeck. Four have a life expectancy greater than 10 years: Kellingley, Rossington, Tower and Hatfield.

In 10 years Britain may have only 4 deep mines working: 3 in Yorkshire, 1 in Wales. Millions of tons of coal will remain unmined. Coal imports still flood the country from the USA, South Africa, South America – 30 million tonnes, equivalent to 30 pits, 30,000 jobs.

It is estimated that 2020 will see 70% of Britain’s electricity produced by gas generation, with 90% of that gas imported. The government’s white paper on energy will make interesting reading…an epitaph to the coal industry, perhaps?