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Sideshoots - associated subjects => Heritage railway lines, Railtours, other rail based attractions => Topic started by: Clan Line on June 10, 2020, 12:47:10 pm



Title: The end of coal
Post by: Clan Line on June 10, 2020, 12:47:10 pm
There was an article on the BBC website yesterday wondering for how much longer the UK would need to import coal, following the news that Britain has not burnt any coal in its power stations for 2 months.

If we do not need to import coal for power stations any more, will it be economically viable to import it for heritage steam locomotive use ? Would it be possible to burn wood in our steam locos, or is this too much of a spark hazard ? Oil would be one solution but how long before that is no longer needed ? Could our steam railways (and any other coal users) support a small UK based coal mine ?

Any thoughts ?


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: ellendune on June 10, 2020, 01:11:55 pm
There will still be a need for a small amount of coal to make coke for steelmaking so I do not imagine that supplies will dry up. 


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: didcotdean on June 10, 2020, 02:22:14 pm
There is also the new (and controversial) coal mine being developed near Whitehaven, although all the output is destined to become coke for steel.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: stuving on June 10, 2020, 02:25:54 pm
If you need real working heritage coal for your real working heritage steam engine, shouldn't it come from a real working heritage coal mine?


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on June 10, 2020, 04:25:57 pm
There will always be a need for some coal, whether imported or produced domestically, for iron and steel manufacture.
It should be simple to use a little for heritage railways.
There is also a modest but ongoing demand for coal for domestic heating and cooking. The domestic use of traditional housecoal has been/is about to be banned, but anthracite and coal derived patent fuels are still permitted. It should be simple to use a little of this coal for heritage railways.

Also coal burning for electric power production is unlikely to permanently end just yet. It is expected to resume in the winter, and for the next few winters. It should be simple to divert a little of this power station coal for heritage railway use.
Electricity from coal is declining rapidly but is most unlikely to become totally extinct just yet.

Farriers and blacksmiths will also need coal in modest volumes for the foreseeable future, supply to heritage railways could be combined with supplying this market.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: IndustryInsider on June 10, 2020, 04:34:39 pm
Will a shrinking market mean increased costs though?


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on June 10, 2020, 09:13:52 pm
Yes, I expect costs to rise as coal demand falls.
Not by that much though, imports of a few thousand tons a year should not cost much more per ton than importing millions of tons.
If just 100,000 households burn coal, and each one uses on average a ton a year, that is 100,000 tons a year.
Add to that the demand for iron and steel production, and other uses.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: Witham Bobby on June 12, 2020, 02:45:50 pm
Not all coal is suitable for steam locomotive fireboxes.  Different classes of locos need different coals, too.  Locos of The Great Western Railway were designed to work with the anthracite coal of the Welsh collieries.  I've had experience of firing the small shallow grates on GW locos with the proper stuff, and with substitute material from Yorkshire, Scotland and Russia.  lets just say the job works well with the designed-for fuel, and leave it there.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: eXPassenger on June 12, 2020, 06:22:00 pm
Yes, I expect costs to rise as coal demand falls.
Not by that much though, imports of a few thousand tons a year should not cost much more per ton than importing millions of tons.
If just 100,000 households burn coal, and each one uses on average a ton a year, that is 100,000 tons a year.
Add to that the demand for iron and steel production, and other uses.

Bear in mind that the average size of a bulk carrier is 150,000 tonnes so you are talking of under 1 ship a year for domestic usage.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: Celestial on June 12, 2020, 07:20:08 pm
Yes, I expect costs to rise as coal demand falls.
Not by that much though, imports of a few thousand tons a year should not cost much more per ton than importing millions of tons.
If just 100,000 households burn coal, and each one uses on average a ton a year, that is 100,000 tons a year.
Add to that the demand for iron and steel production, and other uses.

Bear in mind that the average size of a bulk carrier is 150,000 tonnes so you are talking of under 1 ship a year for domestic usage.
I'm not sure the typical coal burning household will use a ton each year, as it tends to be a "nice to have" to make the house feel welcoming, rather than a "must have used all the time" through winter.  We probably get through about a third of a ton each winter on that basis.  Though I suspect there are more than 100,000 householders still burning it on a discretional basis.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: Robin Summerhill on June 12, 2020, 07:23:09 pm
Not all coal is suitable for steam locomotive fireboxes.  Different classes of locos need different coals, too.  Locos of The Great Western Railway were designed to work with the anthracite coal of the Welsh collieries.  I've had experience of firing the small shallow grates on GW locos with the proper stuff, and with substitute material from Yorkshire, Scotland and Russia.  lets just say the job works well with the designed-for fuel, and leave it there.

This was a problem in the 1950s, let alone now, and was one of the reasons why Swindon Works involved themselves in improved draughting arrangements etc. In short, when all you can get hold of is coal dust stuck together with cement you still need the engines to steam.

I admit that I am a bit of an armchair inexpert  on the finer points but, as the majority of railway coal being burnt these days is to keep relatiively light loads going at a maximum of 25mph. the coal quality is unlikely to have any serious problems attached to it. Until you get to dropping the fire after a day's work, that is...

Main line steam working would of course be a different matter


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: eightf48544 on June 13, 2020, 10:36:30 am
Looking back with hindsight we as a nation possibly made the wrong decision to go for large coal fired baseload power station based mostly around the Trent and Calder.

But one of the less well known successess of the Beeching plan was the MGR trains which served these stations with home dug coal direct from a local colliery to the power station. Where the train was unloaded on the move. For rail the ideal traffic. These ran up until fairly recently but unfortuantely latterly with imported coal from Hunterston? in Scotland to Yorkshire via the S&C.



Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: Clan Line on June 13, 2020, 11:54:36 am

Bear in mind that the average size of a bulk carrier is 150,000 tonnes so you are talking of under 1 ship a year for domestic usage.

Which commercial port is going to keep/maintain the coal bulk handling infrastructure to unload 1 ship per year ?


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: WSW Frome on June 13, 2020, 02:44:24 pm
An item in the June "Railway Magazine" examines the quite major issues that could affect the supply of loco coal in the near future UK for use in the heritage fleet. In essence, UK sources could easily disappear and there are problems of importing the right kind of coal, suitably sized etc. This would need to be handled in some bulk for economies of scale and therefore would somehow need to be co-ordinated across the whole heritage sector - at a somewhat higher cost overall. 


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: Bmblbzzz on June 13, 2020, 06:30:59 pm

Bear in mind that the average size of a bulk carrier is 150,000 tonnes so you are talking of under 1 ship a year for domestic usage.

Which commercial port is going to keep/maintain the coal bulk handling infrastructure to unload 1 ship per year ?
Does it require different infrastructure to handling bulk ores?


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: Witham Bobby on June 16, 2020, 02:29:52 pm

This was a problem in the 1950s, let alone now, and was one of the reasons why Swindon Works involved themselves in improved draughting arrangements etc. In short, when all you can get hold of is coal dust stuck together with cement you still need the engines to steam.

I admit that I am a bit of an armchair inexpert  on the finer points but, as the majority of railway coal being burnt these days is to keep relatiively light loads going at a maximum of 25mph. the coal quality is unlikely to have any serious problems attached to it. Until you get to dropping the fire after a day's work, that is...

Main line steam working would of course be a different matter

If the stuff won't burn right, it matters not that the load is light and the speed is 25mph.  You have to consider not only the provision of enough energy to shift the train, but also potential damage to firebox and grate, not to mention noxious smoke.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: Trowres on June 16, 2020, 11:47:18 pm
With the demand for heritage railway fuel being low, I wondered if charcoal would be a viable option. I came across this website with a suggestion of partially-pyrolysed wood that seems to retain a bit more of a coal-like quality than charcoal:

https://csrail.org/newsroom/2016/3/29/coal-fired-steam-can-it-last (https://csrail.org/newsroom/2016/3/29/coal-fired-steam-can-it-last)

(the relevant details are some way down the article).

At this (non-Drax) scale, possible easier to make carbon-neutral and sustainable using relatively local wood.

(modified to correct hyperlink)


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TonyK on June 17, 2020, 12:18:45 am
There will always be a need for some coal, whether imported or produced domestically, for iron and steel manufacture.
It should be simple to use a little for heritage railways.
There is also a modest but ongoing demand for coal for domestic heating and cooking. The domestic use of traditional housecoal has been/is about to be banned, but anthracite and coal derived patent fuels are still permitted. It should be simple to use a little of this coal for heritage railways.

Also coal burning for electric power production is unlikely to permanently end just yet. It is expected to resume in the winter, and for the next few winters. It should be simple to divert a little of this power station coal for heritage railway use.
Electricity from coal is declining rapidly but is most unlikely to become totally extinct just yet.

Farriers and blacksmiths will also need coal in modest volumes for the foreseeable future, supply to heritage railways could be combined with supplying this market.

My bolthole has an open fire, with the base heat supplied by electric storage heaters because of there being no gas supply to the village, and no desire to have a tank outside. It wouldn't be particularly warm without the fire lit in the evenings. I am not sure that one size fits all in coal. Because we aren't there all the time, I buy it by the 20 kg bag from the depot of the company that supplies everywhere else that sells coal and bagged logs in Devon. The reception there has a display of samples of 8 or so different types of coal they sell for domestic use, arranged in order of price, which also seems to correspond with how much heat they give out. I understand that there is to be a standard government approved solid fuel to replace all this, which I imagine will cost more than all the existing options. Business will be brisk in the last few weeks, as I am sure I will not be the only one to stockpile. I am sure I will be offered an alternative in the pub, I'm just not sure whether to call it black market or underground.

Drax power station in Yorkshire is due to cease burning coal soon, completing its transformation into a new green facility burning "biomass", and attracting generous subsidies. Except that a climate change think tank called Ember  (https://ember-climate.org/project/the-burning-question/)has finally read what I have written on the subject previously here and elsewhere, and realised that burning wood pellets that have been dried then dragged across the Atlantic using dirty marine diesel isn't particularly green. The basic premise of the young trees, planted to replace those cut down so that we can enjoy Eastenders with a clear conscience, producing oxygen from carbon dioxide while growing is a good one scientifically. The problem is that it will take centuries to square the circle, if at all, and we don't have that long. According to another group quoted by the BBC in this report (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-york-north-yorkshire-52380803), Drax is the UK's biggest emitter of CO2, and isn't helping much in the fight against climate change. I'm also waiting for them to get back to me to explain why £92.50 per mWh is an illegal subsidy if it is Hinkley C, but £144 per mWh isn't, if it's burning wood. It may be that the contracts are unstoppable, but it wouldn't surprise me to see Drax and other wood pellet burners falling from grace soon. Quite what that will do for coal generation remains to be seen, although I will be glad to see it gone forever.

Somehow, I can see a supply of coal finding its way into the UK still, in sufficient quantity that steam railways will still be able to get it, for quite a few years to come.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on June 17, 2020, 03:12:33 pm
Regarding fuel supply for the domestic fireplace discussed above.
You will no longer be allowed to purchase traditional housecoal for your fireplace.
All common types of coal derived patent fuels will still be allowed. The better quality patent fuels are very suitable for domestic open fires.
No question of just one standard type being available.
Your supplier will be able to recommend the most suitable fuel for an open fire.
Anthracite is also permitted, but is not entirely suitable for an open fire, more applicable to closed appliances with an induced draught.

Note that the restrictions on housecoal are NOT primarily for climate change reasons, but are to reduce smoke and particulate emissions. Patent fuels emit almost the same amount of carbon dioxide as housecoal, but do greatly reduce smoke and particulates.

If you use your open fire regularly, it might be worth having a small modern stove installed instead. These make better use of fuel, often consuming less than half the fuel of an open fire for the same heat.
This not only saves money but also reduces the labour in fuel handling and ash disposal.
Be sure to get a multi fuel stove that can burn logs or anthracite.
Logs are greener if obtained locally.
Anthracite is longer burning and less bulky to store, and keeps better.
I use logs normally but keep half a ton or so of anthracite for emergencies.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: Celestial on June 17, 2020, 03:32:15 pm
... for emergencies.

Who would have guessed.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on June 17, 2020, 08:22:36 pm
... for emergencies.

Who would have guessed.

There might be a pandemic or some other out of course event that disrupts fuel supplies.
For similar reasons I keep a few thousand candles and a couple of hundred batteries.
I don't trust any fuel supply if I cant see it, on the premises.
The present pandemic has not had any discernable effect on fuel supplies, but what about NEXT winter, or the NEXT pandemic.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: Celestial on June 17, 2020, 10:24:46 pm

There might be a pandemic or some other out of course event that disrupts fuel supplies.
For similar reasons I keep a few thousand candles

I am speechless...


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: MVR S&T on June 17, 2020, 10:29:19 pm
I only keep 4 Candles... Good for digging the veg patch over.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TonyK on June 18, 2020, 11:25:37 am
I've had a look at my stock of emergency supplies, and realised that I have eaten half of them. That's two tins of beans to replace when I can get out again.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: eightonedee on June 18, 2020, 02:19:46 pm
With all that petrol, paraffin, lavatory paper and candle wax in the Broadguage household, I hope there is also a fire extinguisher and smoke detector or two to keep them all safe!


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: SandTEngineer on June 18, 2020, 02:29:37 pm
With all that petrol, paraffin, lavatory paper and candle wax in the Broadguage household, I hope there is also a fire extinguisher and smoke detector or two to keep them all safe!

...what about the logs and half a ton or so of anthracite.... ::) :P


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on June 18, 2020, 02:37:36 pm
Yes, three large AFFF fire extinguishers. One upstairs, one downstairs, and one in the workshop.
Also a dry powder extinguisher in the kitchen.
The storage shed has no extinguisher, but is rendered as safe as possible from fire. It is of non combustible construction, and has no electrical installation whatsoever.

The shed contains petrol, LPG, paraffin, and candles. Access only in daylight, or in an emergency with an intrinsically safe torch.
Toilet paper is low risk and is stored in the bathroom.
One container of paraffin is stored indoors in the downstairs lavatory in case of need.
One box of 50 candles in the living room in case of need.

Smoke detectors as needed.

I have used my fire extinguishers once and a garden hose for fire fighting, but that when a neighbours property caught fire.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: SandTEngineer on June 18, 2020, 02:42:40 pm
I think we need to rename this topic 'The end of the world as we know it'...... ;D :P


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on June 18, 2020, 02:45:56 pm
With all that petrol, paraffin, lavatory paper and candle wax in the Broadguage household, I hope there is also a fire extinguisher and smoke detector or two to keep them all safe!

...what about the logs and half a ton or so of anthracite.... ::) :P

Logs are outdoors and are low risk, in case of accident a garden hose is available.
Anthracite is very low risk, hard to ignite and virtually self extinguishing expect in a purpose built appliance with an induced draught. Usually stacked outdoors near front door, can be stacked in the hall in an emergency (against theft, not fire risk) The pilfering classes don't normally think about logs or coal, too heavy and relatively low value, in a severe fuel shortage though theft could be a risk.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: Red Squirrel on June 18, 2020, 02:49:04 pm
...with the base heat supplied by electric storage heaters because of there being no gas supply to the village, and no desire to have a tank outside. 

At some point in the not-too-distant future we will need to replace our domestic gas boiler. I'm certainly prepared to consider an air-sourced heat pump; at the moment these are more expensive to install and run than gas boilers (though, interestingly, cheaper than oil-fired systems to run), but have the advantage that the electricity that powers them could at least in theory all be produced without burning stuff.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TonyK on June 19, 2020, 09:19:09 am

At some point in the not-too-distant future we will need to replace our domestic gas boiler. I'm certainly prepared to consider an air-sourced heat pump; at the moment these are more expensive to install and run than gas boilers (though, interestingly, cheaper than oil-fired systems to run), but have the advantage that the electricity that powers them could at least in theory all be produced without burning stuff.

I have been in somewhere heated by an air-source pump. For something that runs all the time, it seemed to make remarkably little difference to the ambient temperature, and I am glad I had a coat. The physics is good, but it won't heat a house on its own, especially not a 17th century one. I don't think we could install one easily in any case because of the layout and the composition of the walls, and I am not going to be owning the place long enough too make the outlay worthwhile. My options are limited - solar panels don't mix with thatch.

I agree that we are going to have to stop burning stuff for energy, at least the fossil fuels that currently account for half of our electricity and almost all of the other three-quarters of our energy consumption. At the main home, I have the benefit of state-of-the-art design, intended to maximise heat from the sun even in winter, and with underfloor heating powered by a beast of a gas boiler, plus a small solar panel out of sight on the roof. I know from my smart meter (anathema to some) that it all works, but I see little prospect of the whole country being transformed any decade soon. I am watching development of ground-source heating, which could be worth digging holes in the garden for, but I am also secretly planning to change the gas boiler just before that becomes impossible. That should see me out nicely.

I have serious doubts about the timescale the government has set itself. One of the chosen options for change, of converting a couple of coal power stations to burn dried wood pellets imported from America, looks far from green to me, and I think HMG is beginning to realise that too. Unless a big cheap alternative for heating homes is found pronto, the 2030s will see 20 million homes warmed by increasingly elderly gas boilers kept going somehow by an army of engineers travelling the nation in clapped out diesel vans. I would say that it will be a boom time for the boiler service industry, but that would be a pun too far.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: Bmblbzzz on June 19, 2020, 09:54:16 am
Ground-source, air-source and water-source heat pumps sound wonderful but in practice it's probably going to be a long time until most people can afford them without some form of assistance and there must be many buildings where it's impossible for engineering or geological reasons. Not to mention that landlords are not going to invest in these unless forced by law, and as at present rented domestic property is not even within scope of energy efficiency rating, there's scant likelihood of that. So for everyone else, if forced to give up gas heating, it will presumably be electric hot water and storage heaters.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: stuving on June 19, 2020, 10:25:02 am
Ground-source, air-source and water-source heat pumps sound wonderful but in practice it's probably going to be a long time until most people can afford them without some form of assistance and there must be many buildings where it's impossible for engineering or geological reasons. Not to mention that landlords are not going to invest in these unless forced by law, and as at present rented domestic property is not even within scope of energy efficiency rating, there's scant likelihood of that. So for everyone else, if forced to give up gas heating, it will presumably be electric hot water and storage heaters.

If/when we are forced to give up gas for heating, it will get a lot clearer - the sums for paying capital now so as to pay less for electricity (a lot less) during the system's lifetime are familiar ones. That would/will be very different from the current choice of burning gas at home or burning it in a power station and reversing the process to push heat into the house. In theory that can have a small gain; in the real world it doesn't so the sums don't add up (though they may if you add heat capture locally, either PV or solar thermal).


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TonyK on June 19, 2020, 11:22:11 am
Not to mention that landlords are not going to invest in these unless forced by law, and as at present rented domestic property is not even within scope of energy efficiency rating, there's scant likelihood of that. So for everyone else, if forced to give up gas heating, it will presumably be electric hot water and storage heaters.

Not quite so - I am a landlord in Bristol on the smallest scale possible. A licencing scheme covers the area where I own the property, and I have to submit certain documents to comply with the growing list of obligations. One is an electrical safety inspection every five years, which is twice as often as is normally recommended but still a good idea. Another is the energy efficiency stiffcut. This was 9½ years into its allotted 10 year validity at the time the latest tenant arrived, so took no account of the replacement windows, LED bulbs etc installed since it was done. It wasn't worth the £65 to replace it with a new meaningless piece of paper, so I didn't. I will have to before either I sell up or get a new tenant, but whatever it says, there is little scope for improvement. The cottage is exempt because it is listed.

There is talk of a hydrogen network, said gas being generated by wind panels and solar turbines, and delivered via the existing gas grid. I can't really see that progressing beyond mere talk for a long time, and certainly not quickly enough to be ready for when the nation needs new heaters, quite apart from the practicalities of producing the gas on such an enormous scale. Carbon capture and storage has been "just around the corner" for nearly as long as nuclear fission. It works very well in a modified way on the international space station, but that's a sealed environment with predictable renewable energy.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: ellendune on June 19, 2020, 12:32:26 pm
There is talk of a hydrogen network, said gas being generated by wind panels and solar turbines, and delivered via the existing gas grid. I can't really see that progressing beyond mere talk for a long time, and certainly not quickly enough to be ready for when the nation needs new heaters, quite apart from the practicalities of producing the gas on such an enormous scale. Carbon capture and storage has been "just around the corner" for nearly as long as nuclear fission. It works very well in a modified way on the international space station, but that's a sealed environment with predictable renewable energy.

There are trials underway at Keele University on converting the gas network to Hydrogen.  IIRC existing appliances can run on up to 20% Hydrogen (80% Methane) without modification.  Any further would require a conversion programme in the way* it was done when we went over to natural gas in the 1960's.

Finding an efficient low carbon source of hydrogen is likely to be the issue as using electricity to produce hydrogen by electrolysis is not very efficient. 

*Actually it has been suggested it would be the opposite way rather than the same way, as coal gas was typically 50% hydrogen, 35% methane
10% carbon monoxide, 5% ethylene. So conversion was reversing the 1960's conversion


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TonyK on June 19, 2020, 01:51:13 pm

There are trials underway at Keele University on converting the gas network to Hydrogen.  IIRC existing appliances can run on up to 20% Hydrogen (80% Methane) without modification.  Any further would require a conversion programme in the way* it was done when we went over to natural gas in the 1960's.

Finding an efficient low carbon source of hydrogen is likely to be the issue as using electricity to produce hydrogen by electrolysis is not very efficient. 

*Actually it has been suggested it would be the opposite way rather than the same way, as coal gas was typically 50% hydrogen, 35% methane
10% carbon monoxide, 5% ethylene. So conversion was reversing the 1960's conversion


I had heard about the study. The main problems with hydrogen are first of all its leakiness, being a tiny molecule, and secondly a tendency to make things brittle. I assume that the boffins are looking into some form of liner that will mitigate both. It is going to have to be very very good, though, if it is to scale up to national grid size. Natural gas came to Lancashire just after I started secondary education. I recall doing experiments in the laboratory at school, where we blew burning gas from the Bunsen burner taps across metal oxides in a small charcoal crucible to produce the metal - Alchemy was one of my favourite subjects, the other being the one where you produce electrickery using magnets. Witchcraft, I think it was.

The case for hydrogen also depends on using cheap abundant renewable energy to make it. As most of our electricity is still made by burning gas, even without converting all transport to electricity, that looks a bit of a pipe dream. It is very energy intensive, whether made by electrolysis or by superheated steam and methane over a catalyst, a process that still produces carbon dioxide.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on June 19, 2020, 03:05:33 pm
The manufacture of hydrogen from natural gas is pointless from an environmental point of view, it would make more sense to use the natural gas directly, thereby avoiding the costs and energy losses in converting it into hydrogen.

The manufacture of hydrogen from electricity shows more promise, but as has already been said it would need a great deal of cheap and renewable electricity.
There is no point in producing hydrogen from electricity that has been produced by burning natural gas.

Electricity, wholesale and at off peak times is about 5 pence a unit.
Hydrogen produced therefrom at 50% efficiency would cost about 10 pence a unit.
Natural gas, wholesale costs about 2 or 3 pence a unit. (less at present)

And the above 10 pence a unit is without considering wages, rates, insurance, return on capital invested, or other expenses of doing business.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: southwest on July 30, 2020, 08:29:35 pm
There was an article on the BBC website yesterday wondering for how much longer the UK would need to import coal, following the news that Britain has not burnt any coal in its power stations for 2 months.

If we do not need to import coal for power stations any more, will it be economically viable to import it for heritage steam locomotive use ? Would it be possible to burn wood in our steam locos, or is this too much of a spark hazard ? Oil would be one solution but how long before that is no longer needed ? Could our steam railways (and any other coal users) support a small UK based coal mine ?

Any thoughts ?

Surely it wouldn't make a difference as the coal needed for a power station is different to what a steam locomotive requires..  think most steam loco coal now comes from Russia?


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on July 31, 2020, 04:27:46 pm
Despite the strongly held views of some locomotive firemen, steam locomotives are not that fussy over the exact type of coal.
Remember that most railway companies back in the day used whatever was affordable in their area, so as to minimise transport.

The main requirements for good locomotive coal are as follows;
In reasonable sized lumps. Small coal tends to fall through the grate and to be wasted. Very large pieces have to be broken up, thereby increasing labour.
Of good calorific value, in order that a tender full will give a good mileage without replenishment.
Not liable to form clinker which sticks to the firebars and impairs proper combustion.

For power station use, size is irrelevant as the coal is ground to powder before combustion. Good calorific value, and limited clinker formation as just as important in a power station as in a loco.

Back in the good old days, loco coal was often screened to remove the small pieces. The rejected "small" could be used on open fires in waiting rooms and offices.
For record breaking attempts, each piece of coal was sometimes hand selected for optimum size.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TonyK on July 31, 2020, 05:19:14 pm
I recall one of the TV programmes about the olden days, which I think was about the Strawberry Line. There was a chap talking about when he was a small child, when his father was in charge of all things railway at a lightly used station with a level crossing. He used to set up a few old tins as a can shy on a barrel or something at the end of the platform. The coal the crew threw kept them warm at home.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: Red Squirrel on July 31, 2020, 06:38:23 pm
Despite the strongly held views of some locomotive firemen, steam locomotives are not that fussy over the exact type of coal.

Whisper that near keepers of the One True Light.

Whilst the locos of lesser roads may be happy to burn lignite, or even peat, GWR locos were designed to run on best Welsh steam coal. Feeding them anything less amounts to cruelty.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: Robin Summerhill on July 31, 2020, 07:52:12 pm
I recall one of the TV programmes about the olden days, which I think was about the Strawberry Line. There was a chap talking about when he was a small child, when his father was in charge of all things railway at a lightly used station with a level crossing. He used to set up a few old tins as a can shy on a barrel or something at the end of the platform. The coal the crew threw kept them warm at home.

Virtually every railway employee who was there in steam days had a tale about coal unofficially coming off engines, be it being given to crossing keepers (usually demolishing the privy or the front door in the process); shouting abuse at the footplate staff causing the fireman to try out his aim, and now this tale of glorified skittles.

If half the tales were true they wouldn’t have had enough coal left for the engines...

And whilst on the tail of tall tales, virtually every clerk in the 60s knew somebody who had devised a plan to save a railway line from the Beeching cuts, only to be told by their manager that “Your job is to close railways, not save them”

If half of those tales were true the BRB may as well have packed The Doctor back off to ICI and saved themselves a £24k pa wage bill

;)





Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: Robin Summerhill on July 31, 2020, 08:08:41 pm

GWR locos were designed to run on best Welsh steam coal. Feeding them anything less amounts to cruelty.


They were originally designed to burn Welsh Steam coal, with that I can agree. Welsh coal was the obvious choice for the GWR because it was virtually on their doorstep.

However.post WW2 it was no longer available, as all the best stuff that was still being dug out at that time was being exported. That is why Sam Ell was charged with carrying out draughting experiments at Swindon in the 1950s which led to a number of modifications to GWR engines to allow them to steam on the rubbish that they were by then being given.

All currently preserved and operational ex-GWR locomotives lived through this process in the 50s. Suffice to say that if you fed a lot of them with Welsh steam coal today they’d be sick...


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on August 02, 2020, 02:02:38 pm
I recall one of the TV programmes about the olden days, which I think was about the Strawberry Line. There was a chap talking about when he was a small child, when his father was in charge of all things railway at a lightly used station with a level crossing. He used to set up a few old tins as a can shy on a barrel or something at the end of the platform. The coal the crew threw kept them warm at home.

Virtually every railway employee who was there in steam days had a tale about coal unofficially coming off engines, be it being given to crossing keepers (usually demolishing the privy or the front door in the process); shouting abuse at the footplate staff causing the fireman to try out his aim, and now this tale of glorified skittles.

If half the tales were true they wouldn’t have had enough coal left for the engines...

And whilst on the tail of tall tales, virtually every clerk in the 60s knew somebody who had devised a plan to save a railway line from the Beeching cuts, only to be told by their manager that “Your job is to close railways, not save them”

If half of those tales were true the BRB may as well have packed The Doctor back off to ICI and saved themselves a £24k pa wage bill

;)





I suspect that a lot of the stories about free coal were in fact true.
A loco had a coal capacity of a few tons.
If just 10 kilos was diverted to each of a dozen "customers" on each trip, the effect on total coal usage would be small and unlikely to be noticed.
10 kilos of coal would keep a domestic sized fireplace burning for up to a day. 10 kilos of "free" coal if obtained every day was about three and a half tons a year, ample for many homes.

On a busy route, a lot of homes could get free coal (each footplate crew having their own favourites)
And of course dropping off a bit of coal to a signal box, station waiting room or the like was not even dishonest, the fuel was still being used for railway purposes. Coal dropped from a moving train might of course miss the intended target and be collected by scavengers.
I suspect that the odd privy was demolished, but not that often or the cost of building a new privy would negate the value of the free coal.

And of course some coal was diverted at the depot before it even reached the loco.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: martyjon on August 02, 2020, 02:45:31 pm
From my transporting days it was a common practice to cut out a coal wagon full of coal that had developed a hot box to be cut out of a coal train at Stoke Gifford yard and shunted to the cripples siding and over a matter of days that wagon would empty of its contents. One of my schoolchums residing in Harry Stoke would tell me of how he spent the weekend emptying a coal wagon in the yard behind his home so that the wagon could be repaired. By the way his father was a rail worker and many residents of Harry Stokes never shivered in their homes in winter.



Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: rower40 on August 02, 2020, 10:29:14 pm
Cross-border trains from Northern Ireland to the Republic always had empty tenders/bunkers on their return trip North, during WWII.  This was because the Republic, as a neutral country with no coal of its own, needed every last ounce of coal it could get, and was no longer being supplied by the UK, which needed the coal for powering the hostilities.

My father, as a schoolboy in Dublin during the war, told me that he made his own candles to provide light to study by, as the electricity supply was so unreliable.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: grahame on August 03, 2020, 02:04:06 am
....  This was because the Republic, as a neutral country with no coal of its own, ....

It may not have been suitable for rail use, but there was some coal mining in Ireland ... from Wikipedia

Quote
Arigna coal mining

The Arigna Coal Mine is famous for its very shallow deposits. Seams of culm were worked by miners lying on their sides to shovel the coal out. Mining lasted until 1990, and the coal was used for iron works and later for a power plant. With the demolition of the ESB Generating Station chimney, the era of collieries in the area ended.

[snip]

In 1958 the Arigna Power Station was opened to produce electricity. It was the first major power generating station in Connacht. The station was built specifically to burn the semi bituminous coal with its high ash content.

and

Quote
The Cavan & Leitrim Railway was a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge railway in the counties of Leitrim and Cavan in northwest Ireland, which ran from 1887 until 1959. Unusually for Ireland, this 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge line survived on coal traffic, from the mine at Arigna. It outlived most of the other Irish narrow-gauge lines, giving a further lease of life to some of their redundant engines.



Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: grahame on February 03, 2021, 06:35:41 pm
And remember that for 2022 ... the heritage sector has a different problem ... from Rail Business Daily (https://news.railbusinessdaily.com/heritage-rail-begins-the-search-for-the-worlds-best-coal/)

Quote
With the end in sight for UK coal for UK steam, heritage railways turn their sights overseas for continued supplies of coal.

The UK’s heritage railways have been forced to accept that the battle for continued domestic coal supplies is lost. Stocks from now-closed mines will soon be exhausted. The last mine producing steam coal is scheduled to close.

The Heritage Railway Association (HRA) says in spite of government support for the continued burning of coal by heritage steam operators, policy elsewhere is acting decisively against the opening of new mines. That means UK-produced coal for the nation’s much loved steam railways will run out in early 2022.

“Over the past five years every planning application for a new mine which could have produced the kind of coal we need has been refused,” said Steve Oates, Chief Executive of the HRA. “There are some limited stocks in reserve, and the last producing mine in the UK, Ffos-y-fran in South Wales, will close in early 2022. After that, unless we find an alternative source of supply, heritage railways will be running on coal dust.”


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: GBM on February 04, 2021, 10:00:08 am
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-55923731
The leading climate scientist James Hansen has warned Boris Johnson that he risks “humiliation“ over plans for a new coal mine in Cumbria.

The UK government, which hosts a climate summit this year, has allowed the mine at Whitehaven to go ahead..............

Wrong type of coal?


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TonyK on February 04, 2021, 10:54:06 am
Cross-border trains from Northern Ireland to the Republic always had empty tenders/bunkers on their return trip North, during WWII.  This was because the Republic, as a neutral country with no coal of its own, needed every last ounce of coal it could get, and was no longer being supplied by the UK, which needed the coal for powering the hostilities.

It was not the only fuel, though. Spike Milligan describes how, when the Puckoon Flyer ran out of steam, the driver went off to borrow a bucket of peat. Famously, he stopped for a cup of tea...

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-55923731
The leading climate scientist James Hansen has warned Boris Johnson that he risks “humiliation“ over plans for a new coal mine in Cumbria.

The UK government, which hosts a climate summit this year, has allowed the mine at Whitehaven to go ahead..............

Wrong type of coal?

Indeed it is. The mine will provide coking fuel for use in the steel industry. There isn't a viable alternative ingredient at the moment, so the choices are between closing the steelworks and shipping steel across the world, or shipping coal from distant lands, both of which will add to the emissions Mr Hansen is keen to remove. From what I have seen in the planning reports, there will be no opportunity for the heritage rail groups to buy from here. It will have to be Australia or Russia, or find a way of running on battery power.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: infoman on February 05, 2021, 08:25:13 am
Not my neck of the woods,but may I ask the approx location of the mine?


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: grahame on February 05, 2021, 08:58:14 am
Not my neck of the woods,but may I ask the approx location of the mine?

On the west Cumbrian Coast - Whitehaven / Corcickle / St Bees stations on the nearby railway, which might be a sensible way to get any product out?   The plans are for mine head to be onshore, mining out under the sea. See https://www.westcumbriamining.com/wcm-factsheets/ and pages linked from there. Woodhouse Colliery; address: Whitehaven CA28 9LF


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: infoman on February 05, 2021, 09:25:41 am
Thank you Grahame


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on May 03, 2021, 11:54:07 am
The earlier discussed "coal ban" came into force a few days ago on May 1st 2021.

Retail sales of house coal are now prohibited, retail being defined as pre packed in bags or sacks, or small volumes tipped loose.
Patent smokeless fuels derived from coal are still allowed.
Anthracite is still allowed.

House coal may still be sold in bulk for industrial and trade use, it is only retail sale that is banned. Heritage railways are included under trade users.

From the same date, the sale of wet fire wood was also prohibited in small quantities. The wood must be dried to less than 20% moisture before it may lawfully be sold in bags, nets, or tipped loose in deliveries  of less than two cubic meters.

Larger volumes of wet fire wood may still be sold, for the customer to dry, it must be accompanied by instructions on drying.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TonyK on May 03, 2021, 12:58:10 pm
The earlier discussed "coal ban" came into force a few days ago on May 1st 2021.

Retail sales of house coal are now prohibited, retail being defined as pre packed in bags or sacks, or small volumes tipped loose.
Patent smokeless fuels derived from coal are still allowed.
Anthracite is still allowed.

House coal may still be sold in bulk for industrial and trade use, it is only retail sale that is banned. Heritage railways are included under trade users.

From the same date, the sale of wet fire wood was also prohibited in small quantities. The wood must be dried to less than 20% moisture before it may lawfully be sold in bags, nets, or tipped loose in less in deliveries  of less than two cubic meters.

Larger volumes of wet fire wood may still be sold, for the customer to dry, it must be accompanied by instructions on drying.

We have just sold our cottage with the open fire. I wonder if my local coal merchant had a sale ("fire sale") to get rid of the stocks? They sell anthracite too, as well as logs, so the locals will still be able to light fires. Not sure they are dried to 20% though. Still - I am sure the villages will survive on bulk supplies. The favoured unit for home delivery is a "dumpy bag", which is about a cubic metre. Two of those would have more than filled my log store, but I am sure neighbours will co-operate, as happened before to take advantage of a price. There has always been a semi-official network of wood suppliers too - I would imagine that might flourish in rural parts.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on May 04, 2021, 02:47:45 am
Around here, retail sales of house coal from supermarkets and petrol stations ceased around Christmas. Presumably stocks were reduced in good time to avoid being left with any after the ban.

Patent fuels are a suitable alternative for open fires, and anthracite for closed appliances.

I have recently tried some "eco coal" a patent fuel largely derived from olive stones, an unavoidable by-product of olive oil production. Seems fine.

In general I prefer locally produced wood over any coal based fuel.
At present I am burning small oak logs of which a large supply was available cheaply a couple of years ago.

Two large oaks on a local farm were taken down for building timber, and the small bits sold as fire wood.
I was impressed with speed of the operation.
It took only hours to reduce a large tree to building timber, fire wood, and shredded stuff for composting.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TonyK on May 04, 2021, 09:39:52 am
Two large oaks on a local farm were taken down for building timber, and the small bits sold as fire wood.
I was impressed with speed of the operation.
It took only hours to reduce a large tree to building timber, fire wood, and shredded stuff for composting.

Both a good thing and a bad thing at the same time! A few years ago, we were on holiday in Scotland, far from the madding crowd. We went for a walk in some woods. I watched a machine grabbing trees, cutting them off at the base, trimming them and cutting them into uniform logs, in the space of a minute. Not mighty oaks, which would have taken longer, but still deforestation at an impressive speed. I rather hoped that new trees would be quickly planted, but the purpose was revealed to me later that day, and the area is now under concrete. My ambivalence towards wind farms began that day, reinforced by research since.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on May 04, 2021, 09:52:48 am
I am in favour of wind power, we need electricity and if we are to meet our climate change promises, we need to generate a greater proportion of this electricity from renewables.

We need to plant more trees, in between the wind turbines, and in many other places. We need both building timber and firewood.

We need to plant both fast growing trees for inexpensive wood, and also oak and other slow growing trees. There is a demand for oak, primarily for repair and restoration of historic buildings.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on May 04, 2021, 04:26:39 pm
It looks as though a loophole has been found and that housecoal may still be sold retail.
At least one major coal merchant has stated that only "prepacked" house coal is banned and that sales may continue in "open bags" What a farce !

Sales from supermarkets and petrol stations have probably ceased as such such places cant cope with open bags.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TonyK on May 04, 2021, 05:08:05 pm
I am in favour of wind power, we need electricity and if we are to meet our climate change promises, we need to generate a greater proportion of this electricity from renewables.

We need to plant more trees, in between the wind turbines, and in many other places. We need both building timber and firewood.

We need to plant both fast growing trees for inexpensive wood, and also oak and other slow growing trees. There is a demand for oak, primarily for repair and restoration of historic buildings.

So far, almost 14 million trees have been cut down in Scotland to make way for wind farms. That is for both the turbines, and to clear a way for the wind to reach them uninterrupted by anything that would dampen the power. Planting trees between them risks attracting birds and bats.

The best time to plant oak for timber was about 100 years ago. Now would be another good time.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: Bmblbzzz on May 04, 2021, 08:52:45 pm
It looks as though a loophole has been found and that housecoal may still be sold retail.
At least one major coal merchant has stated that only "prepacked" house coal is banned and that sales may continue in "open bags" What a farce !

Sales from supermarkets and petrol stations have probably ceased as such such places cant cope with open bags.
That would appear to be correct for the next couple of years.
Quote
Sales of all bagged traditional house coal will be phased out by February 2021, and the sale of loose coal direct to customers via approved coal merchants by February 2023. This will give industry, suppliers and households the time to adapt to the new rules.

Similarly, sales of wet wood in units of under 2m3 will be restricted from sale from February 2021, allowing for existing stocks to be used up. Wet wood sold in volumes greater than 2m3 will need to be sold with advice on how to dry it before burning from this date.
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-takes-action-to-cut-pollution-from-household-burning


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TonyK on May 04, 2021, 11:10:51 pm
It wouldn't be a British regulation if it didn't have a loophole, or a "classed as" exemption to allow a flight of fancy.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: Lee on May 04, 2021, 11:20:40 pm
It wouldn't be a British regulation if it didn't have a loophole, or a "classed as" exemption to allow a flight of fancy.

You aint seen nothing yet - Just wait until I open my "Museum of Network Rail.Business Plans".


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: johnneyw on June 16, 2021, 10:29:31 am
There's interesting results from an eCoal experiment on the Bure Valley railway in Norfolk.

https://www.railadvent.co.uk/2021/06/norfolks-bure-valley-railway-tests-new-bio-coal-for-steam-locomotives.html


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on June 16, 2021, 01:14:10 pm
There's interesting results from an eCoal experiment on the Bure Valley railway in Norfolk.

https://www.railadvent.co.uk/2021/06/norfolks-bure-valley-railway-tests-new-bio-coal-for-steam-locomotives.html


This sounds rather like the "eco coal" that I tried in a domestic multifuel stove, see post #55.
It worked fine and but is only light green as it still contains about 50% coal.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TonyK on June 16, 2021, 02:12:01 pm

This sounds rather like the "eco coal" that I tried in a domestic multifuel stove, see post #55.
It worked fine and but is only light green as it still contains about 50% coal.

That's still an awful lot "greener" than Greenpeace in Germany, selling natural gas with under 1% "green" hydrogen  (https://www.greenpeace-energy.de/privatkunden/gas/unser-gas-im-detail.html)made by wind energy. The loss of green energy to the grid isn't a problem, as it can be made up by burning lignite.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: johnneyw on June 16, 2021, 02:32:10 pm
What also caught my attention in the article was that if left to landfill, the olive waste could have contributed to methane leaking into the atmosphere anyway.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on June 16, 2021, 03:18:39 pm

This sounds rather like the "eco coal" that I tried in a domestic multifuel stove, see post #55.
It worked fine and but is only light green as it still contains about 50% coal.

That's still an awful lot "greener" than Greenpeace in Germany, selling natural gas with under 1% "green" hydrogen  (https://www.greenpeace-energy.de/privatkunden/gas/unser-gas-im-detail.html)made by wind energy. The loss of green energy to the grid isn't a problem, as it can be made up by burning lignite.

I am shocked that that natural gas with about 1% hydrogen is called green. Not that keen on the ecocoal, but as you point out 50% is a very considerable improvement on 1%.

A few years ago it was proposed that newly built houses could not be gas heated, and I have heard the suggestion that a loophole has been found. Gas boilers might be allowed if marked "hydrogen ready" the percentage of hydrogen not being stated. 1% perhaps ?


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TonyK on June 16, 2021, 03:48:28 pm

I am shocked that that natural gas with about 1% hydrogen is called green. Not that keen on the ecocoal, but as you point out 50% is a very considerable improvement on 1%.

A few years ago it was proposed that newly built houses could not be gas heated, and I have heard the suggestion that a loophole has been found. Gas boilers might be allowed if marked "hydrogen ready" the percentage of hydrogen not being stated. 1% perhaps ?

I was shocked that Greenpeace is selling gas at all, but telling everyone to stop using gas is an expensive business, so I guess they need the cash.

Gas boilers in my childhood were not as plentiful as now, but burned 50% hydrogen. Most converted to natural gas easily, and modern science being what it is, I am sure that making a boiler that could work on natural gas or hydrogen with minimal work would be easy. I would imagine that they won't be tested for that for many years anyway. The country has a national lack of manufacturing resources for the air-source heaters that will be needed, and an even bigger deficit of accredited installers.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: grahame on June 16, 2021, 08:45:02 pm
Back to the original topic, and how to fire steam engines when there's no coal.   All this talk of alternatives - is it beyond the wit of man person to make heat-eggs which are induction charged overnight, then put into the firebox prior to service, switched on via WiFi and get very hot just like coal does to boil the water.  Difference being that the cool down at the end of the day and get put back into the induction charger overnight and so on.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: johnneyw on June 16, 2021, 09:22:37 pm
But will there be no coal?  Is not one of the benefits of making the great majority of future transportation carbon neutral that it allows for limited fossil fuel heritage technologies such a steam power to continue?  Should not the question really be, how can a modest amount of coal be economically mined to supply this sector?  Perhaps a productive heritage mine?
You can use the same rationale with vintage motor cars although synthetic fuel would probably be easier to produce?


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on June 16, 2021, 10:26:03 pm
There wont be "no coal" for many years yet.
Anthracite and coal derived smokeless patent fuels are still available, with no proposed bans.
House coal can still be sold in bulk to industrial  users which includes heritage railways.

I am in favour of reducing coal consumption as it is a carbon intensive fuel.
Coal burning steam engines are inherently un-green, and heritage railways should try to be as green as possible.





Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: johnneyw on June 16, 2021, 10:54:57 pm

I am in favour of reducing coal consumption as it is a carbon intensive fuel.
Coal burning steam engines are inherently un-green, and heritage railways should try to be as green as possible.


Be green as possible by all means but heritage steam is deeply linked with coal.  The amount needed for heritage lines would be an environmental irrelevance in an otherwise future post fossil fuel world.  The educational value as well as the heritage interest of coal powered steam traction would be diluted to a very detrimental degree without the presence of the small amount of coal it requires. 


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: Witham Bobby on June 17, 2021, 10:15:06 am
A little internet search reveals that there are at present 184 coal-fired power stations under construction in China.  I don't see how the "decarbonisation" (a totally impossible target and almost certainly prohibitively expensive) that is now stated Government policy for the UK is going to make all that much difference to the atmosphere.  It'll just make us all colder, less free, and less prosperous


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on June 17, 2021, 03:05:06 pm
The carbon emissions of the UK are indeed a small part of the world total.
We should IMHO still do our bit to reduce such emissions, if everyone said "my bit is too small to worry about" than there would be no hope for the climate.

China has a very poor record on the environment.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: Bmblbzzz on June 18, 2021, 02:14:40 pm
But will there be no coal?  Is not one of the benefits of making the great majority of future transportation carbon neutral that it allows for limited fossil fuel heritage technologies such a steam power to continue?  Should not the question really be, how can a modest amount of coal be economically mined to supply this sector?  Perhaps a productive heritage mine?
You can use the same rationale with vintage motor cars although synthetic fuel would probably be easier to produce?
The price of the heritage coal could be subsidised by tourists, who would pay for the chance to dress up in period costume and swing a pick axe till they've filled a burlap sack. They could then buy heritage fodder to feed the pit ponies and finally enjoy a genuine Edwardian pitman's dinner.  ;D


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on June 18, 2021, 04:15:58 pm
Is heritage fodder for pit ponies any different from modern fodder ?


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TaplowGreen on June 18, 2021, 10:31:11 pm
A little internet search reveals that there are at present 184 coal-fired power stations under construction in China.  I don't see how the "decarbonisation" (a totally impossible target and almost certainly prohibitively expensive) that is now stated Government policy for the UK is going to make all that much difference to the atmosphere.  It'll just make us all colder, less free, and less prosperous

Exactly, one of the reasons why it's so baffling that Extinction Rebellion, Greta etc don't spend more time protesting in China.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TonyK on June 19, 2021, 12:11:14 am
A little internet search reveals that there are at present 184 coal-fired power stations under construction in China.  I don't see how the "decarbonisation" (a totally impossible target and almost certainly prohibitively expensive) that is now stated Government policy for the UK is going to make all that much difference to the atmosphere.  It'll just make us all colder, less free, and less prosperous

Exactly, one of the reasons why it's so baffling that Extinction Rebellion, Greta etc don't spend more time protesting in China.

Brave people died for less in our own bedrock of democracy, in the olden days. It could be that China has a more robust policy towards who speaks out loudly than our own Albion, this Septic Isle, and more secure borders to boot. You could also ask why critics of Islam don't spend more time protesting in Teheran, why more foreigners don't stage anti-gun rallies in the southern states of the USA, and why Aung San Suu Kyi had such a bad time after a former US navy seal swam to her home to talk to her. China is building more coal power stations, but also furnishes the rest of the world with cheap renewable energy stuff, and will probably be "carbon neutral" long before we and the US are. At what cost, I couldn't begin to imagine. I view it as a balance to our own green narrative, and see it as a new imperialism feeding off our need to export pollution rather than labour cost, but I really know bugger all in the grand scheme of things.

Speaking of borders, I realise that I am bordering on the zone of international politics, so shall take a step backwards. I don't like a lot of what the Chinese state is doing. I am no apologist, but I am not convinced that our own media is in possession of, or sharing, all of the facts. As it happens, I have Chinese friends (and currently house guests) who might not swallow the whole party line, but whom I would not embarrass (or endanger) by discussion of their differences. I'll let you know when they are safely home, and we can discuss it then if anyone wants to. Meanwhile...

Health services are not free in China, which surprised me. Traditional medicine is not the preferred option for most people there these days. They don't all buy bats in wet markets, which didn't surprise me, and pangolins are protected by law. Until relatively recently, I didn't know that there were pangolins, so I was mildly surprised. I took one friend to see GWR in action - she asked how fast the trains travelled at. I told her, proudly, that they do up to 125 mph, or about 200 kph. She asked if we also have any high speed trains.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on June 19, 2021, 07:52:45 am
A little internet search reveals that there are at present 184 coal-fired power stations under construction in China.  I don't see how the "decarbonisation" (a totally impossible target and almost certainly prohibitively expensive) that is now stated Government policy for the UK is going to make all that much difference to the atmosphere.  It'll just make us all colder, less free, and less prosperous

Exactly, one of the reasons why it's so baffling that Extinction Rebellion, Greta etc don't spend more time protesting in China.

I suspect that Greta and others expressing similar views in China would be arrested as "spies" or as "CIA agents" or might simply vanish.
However we in the free world should not lower ourselves to the standards prevailing in china.

I avoid, so far as is possible, the purchase of chinese goods due to that countries poor record on the enviroment and on human rights.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: ellendune on June 19, 2021, 10:00:38 am
However we in the free world ......

At the moment - however we must always be on our guard. 


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: Bmblbzzz on June 19, 2021, 12:18:02 pm
I doubt if Greta would be given a visa to enter China.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TaplowGreen on June 19, 2021, 04:45:41 pm
I doubt if Greta would be given a visa to enter China.

Much longer, CO2 generating flight than last time for the crew to bring her "zero carbon" yacht back afterwards too!  :)


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TonyK on June 20, 2021, 09:05:05 pm
I doubt if Greta would be given a visa to enter China.

I don't see why not. She could do a speech to the assembled suits at party HQ, say "How dare you!", then be given a tour of happy smiley solar panel factories, with the official media in close attendance. She is a teenager with a passion for the environment, and not a subversive or a spy, and therefore of little cause for alarm. She wouldn't need a yacht either - the journey from Sweden is possible overland. Quicker than sea too, taking under 3 weeks, even with two changes of gauge.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: Rhydgaled on June 21, 2021, 06:33:09 pm
A little internet search reveals that there are at present 184 coal-fired power stations under construction in China.  I don't see how the "decarbonisation" (a totally impossible target and almost certainly prohibitively expensive) that is now stated Government policy for the UK is going to make all that much difference to the atmosphere. It'll just make us all colder, less free, and less prosperous[/b]
In the short term then maybe it will "just make us all colder, less free, and less prosperous" but unless we (and China, and everyone else) can put a stop to climate change the world will end up alot poorer (both financially from the cost of dealing with major cities becoming below sea level and in terms of biodiversity) in the slightly longer term.

We can but hope that China sorts itself out. If it doesn't then, as you say, anything the UK does is unlikely to change the outcome - we'll still end up with London below sea level etc. If, on the other hand, China (and the USA etc.) does sort itself out then we had better have sorted ourselves out here in the UK - otherwise it will be our emissions here in the UK that will be responsible for tipping the world over the edge and into the very bad place we are currently heading for.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: ellendune on June 21, 2021, 10:54:40 pm
I don't see how the "decarbonisation" (a totally impossible target and almost certainly prohibitively expensive) that is now stated Government policy for the UK is going to make all that much difference to the atmosphere. It'll just make us all colder, less free, and less prosperous[/b]

In the short term then maybe it will "just make us all colder, less free, and less prosperous" but unless we (and China, and everyone else) can put a stop to climate change the world will end up alot poorer (both financially from the cost of dealing with major cities becoming below sea level and in terms of biodiversity) in the slightly longer term.

We can but hope that China sorts itself out. If it doesn't then, as you say, anything the UK does is unlikely to change the outcome - we'll still end up with London below sea level etc. If, on the other hand, China (and the USA etc.) does sort itself out then we had better have sorted ourselves out here in the UK - otherwise it will be our emissions here in the UK that will be responsible for tipping the world over the edge and into the very bad place we are currently heading for.

I disagree that net zero is prohibitively expensive. If we invest in new technology we can develop solutions that are cost effective.  The cost of renewable energy has come down dramatically over the years and we have even touched the most reliable source - Tidal Power.  If we distribute tidal generation around the UK (to sort out the periodic changes) we can get a reliable base load of generation 24/7 all the year round.  If we had put as much money on research into this in the last decade as we did into nuclear power development in the 1950's it would have been done by now!

I also disagree that our efforts will make little difference.  We are still one of the major emitters of CO2 and every bit helps reduce the impact of Climate Change. 



Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on June 24, 2021, 04:27:02 pm
I agree, and even if "net zero" can not be achieved in the near term,  a considerable reduction in fossil fuel use is still preferable to carrying on as normal.
Under present and foreseeable near future conditions I doubt that we can produce a reliable 24/7 electricity supply without burning natural gas at times of low renewable energy input.
Tidal power could change that and should be exploited on a considerable scale.

It was proposed for the Bristol Channel, but the NIMBYs managed to prevent it.

And returning to heritage railways, coal burning steam engines are inherently un green. Heritage lines should therefore IMHO try to be as green as possible in other respects including.

Use of a battery locomotive for ECS moves, shunting and infrastructure trains.
Use battery traction for out of season commuter services.
Consider electric preheating of steam locos to reduce coal used.
Generate electricity from PV modules to the greatest possible extent.
Provide electric vehicle charging points for visitors.
Use electric road vehicles when possible.
Use high efficiency lighting and appliances whenever possible.



Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: bradshaw on June 24, 2021, 05:01:47 pm
A read if Wikipedia regarding the Severn Tidal Barrage produces this

Quote
  Following the Severn Tidal Power Feasibility Study (2008–10), the British government concluded that there was no strategic case for building a barrage but to continue to investigate emerging technologies. In June 2013 the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee published its findings after an eight-month study of the arguments for and against the Barrage. MPs said the case for the barrage was unproven. They were not convinced the economic case was strong enough and said the developer, Hafren Power, had failed to answer serious environmental and economic concerns. 
Not really the Nimbys in this case?


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TonyK on June 24, 2021, 09:14:28 pm
A read if Wikipedia regarding the Severn Tidal Barrage produces this

Quote
  Following the Severn Tidal Power Feasibility Study (2008–10), the British government concluded that there was no strategic case for building a barrage but to continue to investigate emerging technologies. In June 2013 the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee published its findings after an eight-month study of the arguments for and against the Barrage. MPs said the case for the barrage was unproven. They were not convinced the economic case was strong enough and said the developer, Hafren Power, had failed to answer serious environmental and economic concerns. 
Not really the Nimbys in this case?

I don't think so. There were a few influential MPs pushing it, and I was surprised the lobby didn't get it through. I seem to recall thinking that this was a rare case where the scientists had won the day, with some rather foreboding forecasts of gloom, doom, and ecological ruination being backed up by modelling and experimentation. I'm sure we haven't heard the last of it, but I can't see it happening.

Thinking it through, I think its very size mitigates against it. A big wind turbine costs a few million quid, a few hundred turbines cost a few hundred million quid. If it turns out that a few of them don't make money or cause a peat bog to slide into a salmon river, it isn't the end of the world, at least not for the finance group and promoters of the turbines. The Severn Barrage is an all or nothing job, a big roll of the dice with billions riding on it. If the Severn silts up behind it and all fish disappear, it is a complete failure, not a partial one. I don't think the men with the money see the chances of a complete success as high enough to gamble.


Title: Death threat to Thomas the Tank Engine - Re: The end of coal
Post by: grahame on July 07, 2021, 05:50:12 am
From the BBC (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-57740145)

Quote
There are fears steam trains will stop running under new laws which may lead to a ban on burning coal.

Paul Lewin, of the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland heritage railways in Gwynedd, said the industry needed "water-tight" exemptions to any proposed legislation.

Concerns were raised in the House of Lords any new law could "bring about the death of Thomas the Tank Engine" and threaten heritage attractions.

Aren't some of the Ffestiniog locomotives oil burners? - https://www.festipedia.org.uk/wiki/Ffestiniog_Goes_Back_To_Coal


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TonyK on July 07, 2021, 10:17:58 am
They could burn trees from ancient forests, and call it "green biomass". That way, there would be subsidies galore. Drax power station does it, so why not?


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TaplowGreen on July 07, 2021, 11:08:03 am
Couldn't they be adapted to run on something other than coal?


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on July 07, 2021, 03:03:37 pm
Couldn't they be adapted to run on something other than coal?

Possibly but firstly they would then not be "proper" steam locomotives which what the customers want, and secondly alternative fuels all have drawbacks.

Oil burning, nearly as polluting as coal, not traditional.
Turf or peat, has been used historically, especially in the Irish Republic (which has no significant coal) but now frowned upon for environmental reasons.
Logs, possibly, have been used overseas in places lacking coal. Needs alterations to burn effectively in machine designed for coal.
Natural gas, possible in theory but unlikely to due to the costs of compressing or liquifying.
LPG, popular for miniature engines but not "proper" for full size passenger hauling engines.

Smokeless coal derived patent fuels, probably the most likely as are very similar to proper coal. Some types are light green as they contain waste material such as olive stones.

Electricity, hardly practical for a moving engine, but could be used for preheating "on shed" At least one narrow gauge railway does this.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: rogerw on July 07, 2021, 07:16:36 pm
All changed to coal some time ago. sourcing the used oil which they used became too difficult and expensive


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: rower40 on July 09, 2021, 09:16:10 am
There are a lot of things from the ‘old days’ that we don’t do any more.
Slavery
Bear-baiting
Sending urchins up chimneys
Maybe it’s time to add ‘burning coal for entertainment’ to that list?


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on July 09, 2021, 01:15:30 pm
There is still a fair bit of slavery, largely overseas but the odd case crops up even in the UK.
Bear baiting is extinct I think but only for want of bears. Bull fighting/bull baiting remains regrettably popular as does dog fighting even in the UK.
Modern chimneys are not suitable for urchins, but children are still used in various dangerous trades, in places less civilised then the UK.

And of course motor racing and air shows burn a great deal of fuel for entertainment. Also the amount of flying and driving for leisure.
I would therefore accept a little coal use by heritage railways, and the odd steam special on the main line.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TaplowGreen on July 09, 2021, 02:52:51 pm


And of course motor racing and air shows burn a great deal of fuel for entertainment. Also the amount of flying and driving for leisure.
I would therefore accept a little coal use by heritage railways, and the odd steam special on the main line.


The rather obvious flaw in your argument however is that there is often no alternative to driving or flying, whereas travelling on a train burning coal is 100% a matter of choice.

Absolutely agree re motor racing by the way, an obscenely expensive waste of resources and damage to the  environment - put them in pedal cars and give them 75 laps of the Magic Roundabout in Swindon instead, it'd be fantastic entertainment!!!  :)


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on July 09, 2021, 02:59:18 pm
There are alternatives to flying or driving for leisure.
Either holiday in those parts of the UK and the nearer parts of Europe that can be reached by surface public transport, or stay at home.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TaplowGreen on July 09, 2021, 03:20:09 pm
There are alternatives to flying or driving for leisure.
Either holiday in those parts of the UK and the nearer parts of Europe that can be reached by surface public transport, or stay at home.


With respect, I sometimes question whether you live in the real world.

Notwithstanding that there is more to "driving for leisure" than just holidays, Let's explore your suggestion and just take two popular areas as an example. Approximately 2 million people visit Cornwall each summer, and almost 16 million visit the Lake District annually.

How would you suggest that volume of people travel using "surface public transport"?

Or perhaps they should "stay at home", and consider the effect that will have on the economy of the areas concerned?




Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on July 09, 2021, 03:40:57 pm
Travel by train to Cornwall is a challenge at the moment due to GWR being stuck in covid mode/cracked train mode, and the ongoing staff shortages.

However this wont last forever, and a reliable service of full length trains will presumably return.

Of the two million whom holiday in Cornwall, a reasonable estimate might be that half of these are in the ten week summer holiday season, with the remainder at other times of year.

One million in ten weeks is 100,000 a week, or just over 100 full length IETs, say about 15 trains a day. Certainly doable with more rolling stock and longer trains.

Even I do not expect ALL those who drive to suddenly change to rail. But I expect a gradual shift from road to rail. With rail improvements to match the increased demand.
A reasonable forecast for the medium term might be that of those driving to Cornwall, one third carry on as normal, another third adopt electric cars, and the other third go by train. 5 or 6 full length trains a day.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: IndustryInsider on July 09, 2021, 03:52:26 pm
Of the two million whom holiday in Cornwall, a reasonable estimate might be that half of these are in the ten week summer holiday season, with the remainder at other times of year.

One million in ten weeks is 100,000 a week, or just over 100 full length IETs, say about 15 trains a day. Certainly doable with more rolling stock and longer trains.

Couple of questions…

How do your maths work out if:

1)  There’s actually at least 4-5 million visitors to Cornwall each year, as I seem to be finding in search engine results?

2)  You include passengers on Cornish bound trains who are not visiting Cornwall?  For example the many millions (10m+?) who visit Devon or Somerset but whom travel on the same trains?


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on July 09, 2021, 04:04:53 pm
Restore to use the extended platform one at Paddington, formerly used for motorail.
Run from this platform a 9+9 IET* once an hour.
Run fast to Taunton which has a very long platform. Divide at Taunton.
Front portion fast to Plymouth, then popular stations to Penzance. Rear portion popular station to Plymouth and terminate there. Or some other combination as best meets passenger demand.

That would provide an extra dozen trains a day, in capacity terms, but take up no more paths in the congested London area.

*Or some better alternative but of similar length.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: eightonedee on July 09, 2021, 04:16:45 pm
....and the relevance of today's posts on this thread to its subject matter (The End of Coal) is.....?!


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TaplowGreen on July 09, 2021, 04:32:10 pm
Restore to use the extended platform one at Paddington, formerly used for motorail.
Run from this platform a 9+9 IET* once an hour.
Run fast to Taunton which has a very long platform. Divide at Taunton.
Front portion fast to Plymouth, then popular stations to Penzance. Rear portion popular station to Plymouth and terminate there. Or some other combination as best meets passenger demand.

That would provide an extra dozen trains a day, in capacity terms, but take up no more paths in the congested London area.

*Or some better alternative but of similar length.

Well, I'm glad that's that all sorted out!

Is someone going to mention it to Mark Hopwood? :D


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: IndustryInsider on July 09, 2021, 05:40:25 pm
Restore to use the extended platform one at Paddington, formerly used for motorail.
Run from this platform a 9+9 IET* once an hour.
Run fast to Taunton which has a very long platform. Divide at Taunton.
Front portion fast to Plymouth, then popular stations to Penzance. Rear portion popular station to Plymouth and terminate there. Or some other combination as best meets passenger demand.

That would provide an extra dozen trains a day, in capacity terms, but take up no more paths in the congested London area.

*Or some better alternative but of similar length.

Well, I'm glad that's that all sorted out!

Is someone going to mention it to Mark Hopwood? :D

What’s not to like? 

Well, apart from axing all direct trains between Reading and The West Country.  The logistics of the super length platform at either Paddington or Taunton being out of action for some reason.  The fact that leisure travellers generally want to travel at sociable times of the day with a heavy bias to certain days of the week.  The fact that all these extra passengers persuaded to travel by train instead of car will then need public transport to get them to and from wherever they are staying and to and from the attractions they wish to visit whilst there.

Oh, and not to mention furious potential Pullman customers who board the train and find themselves 18 carriages away from the restaurant.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: Lee on July 09, 2021, 05:45:54 pm
Oh, and not to mention furious potential Pullman customers who board the train and find themselves 18 carriages away from the restaurant.

No problem, we could provide a trolley for them instead.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: Bmblbzzz on July 09, 2021, 06:13:22 pm
Absolutely agree re motor racing by the way, an obscenely expensive waste of resources and damage to the  environment - put them in pedal cars and give them 75 laps of the Magic Roundabout in Swindon instead, it'd be fantastic entertainment!!!  :)
That would be a brilliant thing to watch!


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TonyK on July 09, 2021, 10:24:31 pm
There are alternatives to flying or driving for leisure.
Either holiday in those parts of the UK and the nearer parts of Europe that can be reached by surface public transport, or stay at home.


With respect, I sometimes question whether you live in the real world.



I don't always.  ;D


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: grahame on July 10, 2021, 05:43:59 am
I have split the following post into a new thread - far too important a topic to hide within another topic.  See http://www.passenger.chat/25216

Having wandered off the subject of coal, the general gist of this thread seems to be that the railway, in its current form, is woefully inadequate to be more than a marginal substitute for road traffic and other transport modes that are making various parts of the world rather uncomfortable.

I get a similar message from others setting rail policy or running the railway.

Is it time to retire?


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TaplowGreen on July 10, 2021, 09:34:27 am
Absolutely agree re motor racing by the way, an obscenely expensive waste of resources and damage to the  environment - put them in pedal cars and give them 75 laps of the Magic Roundabout in Swindon instead, it'd be fantastic entertainment!!!  :)
That would be a brilliant thing to watch!

A great deal more entertaining than F1 too!


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TonyK on July 10, 2021, 11:49:47 am
I read in yesterday's (behind paywall) newspaper that the noted environmentally alert companies Shell and BP are amongst others queuing for a government handout, to fund further research into making carbon capture and storage into something more useful than the current PowerPoint presentation. The plan seems to be to burn lots more coal, oil and gas, remove the resultant carbon dioxide from the exhaust using witchcraft*, and pump it into holes under the North Sea, helping to force more oil out in the process. Whether, following an earthquake, the North Sea will be renamed the Fizzy Sea is not discussed. There is definitely free money for oil companies, though. I reckon coal could yet continue nice and safely if the heritage rail operators can get in on the act, maybe via sponsorship?

(*Or some form of osmosis or adsorption etc, which are pretty much the same thing as witchcraft. I'm no expert.)


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: stuving on July 10, 2021, 02:02:31 pm
I read in yesterday's (behind paywall) newspaper that the noted environmentally alert companies Shell and BP are amongst others queuing for a government handout, to fund further research into making carbon capture and storage into something more useful than the current PowerPoint presentation. The plan seems to be to burn lots more coal, oil and gas, remove the resultant carbon dioxide from the exhaust using witchcraft*, and pump it into holes under the North Sea, helping to force more oil out in the process. Whether, following an earthquake, the North Sea will be renamed the Fizzy Sea is not discussed. There is definitely free money for oil companies, though. I reckon coal could yet continue nice and safely if the heritage rail operators can get in on the act, maybe via sponsorship?

(*Or some form of osmosis or adsorption etc, which are pretty much the same thing as witchcraft. I'm no expert.)

I read that too - but got some different facts out of it. Firstly, it's not using an oilfield, current or retired. They are further north, and while there are old gas fields, they are not trusted for long-term reuse due to having many old wells of dubious seal reliability. The Endurance formation is a saline aquifer - so what gets displaced is sea water. The CO2 also dissolves, but as all this happens inside solid, but porous, rocks it's hard to get your head around (unless you have a geologist's head).

The "CCUS cluster sequencing process (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cluster-sequencing-for-carbon-capture-usage-and-storage-ccus-deployment-phase-1-expressions-of-interest)" isn't R&D (Innovate UK has already been funding that), it's for full scale deployment by 2025-ish. The companies claim "full scale" means half the country's industrial CO2 output, and building a pipeline network for collection. The original CO2 source that called for such a big sink was the planned blue hydrogen project on Teesside, but most of the rest already exist. "New power stations" are also mentioned, but may ones planned to be built anyway.

This sort of thing is all temporary and transitional towards true sustainability, of course, though on a timescale of many decades. Here's an industry page (from Upstream) (https://www.upstreamonline.com/energy-transition/bp-leads-heavy-hitters-in-endurance-co2-storage-funding-bid-in-uk/2-1-899907) with more details, dating from when the consortium was formed.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: johnneyw on July 13, 2021, 10:21:52 pm
I couldn't resist putting this link here rather than on a perhaps more relevant thread but feel free to move it if it seems more appropriate.

It may be the "End of Coal" power as we once knew it but it might be the beginning of coal mines as a source of low carbon energy.

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210706-how-flooded-coal-mines-could-heat-homes


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: Bmblbzzz on July 14, 2021, 09:59:19 am
I know someone who I think works there.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TonyK on July 14, 2021, 12:18:38 pm
What a good idea!


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on July 15, 2021, 01:54:14 pm
I couldn't resist putting this link here rather than on a perhaps more relevant thread but feel free to move it if it seems more appropriate.

It may be the "End of Coal" power as we once knew it but it might be the beginning of coal mines as a source of low carbon energy.

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210706-how-flooded-coal-mines-could-heat-homes

The water from flooded coal mines is not warm enough to directly heat homes or other buildings. A heat pump is required at significant capital cost and ongoing electricity consumption. Arguably better than burning oil or gas, but not as cheap or as green as is often implied.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: Western Pathfinder on July 15, 2021, 02:19:15 pm
Here's a thought why not use the sites for geothermal,after all there's a fair amount of water already present ,and a good deal of the drilling has been done for you,I'm thinking something along the lines of what's happening at the Eden Project in Cornwall.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: GBM on July 15, 2021, 02:45:45 pm
Here's a thought why not use the sites for geothermal,after all there's a fair amount of water already present ,and a good deal of the drilling has been done for you,I'm thinking something along the lines of what's happening at the Eden Project in Cornwall.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/01/full-steam-ahead-for-cornwalls-geothermal-energy-project
Full steam ahead for Cornwall’s geothermal energy project
Team behind project at United Downs site near Redruth say power plant will be producing electricity and heat by next year......
(Continues)


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: Bmblbzzz on July 15, 2021, 06:45:40 pm
I couldn't resist putting this link here rather than on a perhaps more relevant thread but feel free to move it if it seems more appropriate.

It may be the "End of Coal" power as we once knew it but it might be the beginning of coal mines as a source of low carbon energy.

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210706-how-flooded-coal-mines-could-heat-homes

The water from flooded coal mines is not warm enough to directly heat homes or other buildings. A heat pump is required at significant capital cost and ongoing electricity consumption. Arguably better than burning oil or gas, but not as cheap or as green as is often implied.
But once the heat pump is in you get far more heating (or cooling, depending which way it's running at the time) than the amount of power put into the pump. If you can run that pump off PV or wind or whatever's green at the time, you get more heat for your kilowatt than using that electricity directly for heating.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on July 16, 2021, 12:39:29 am
Agree, heat pumps can produce several times the heat that would result from direct electric resistance heating.
My point was that electricity is still required, some reports state or imply that water from old mines can provide free heating.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TonyK on July 16, 2021, 08:18:40 am
Here's a thought why not use the sites for geothermal,after all there's a fair amount of water already present ,and a good deal of the drilling has been done for you,I'm thinking something along the lines of what's happening at the Eden Project in Cornwall.

The heat in the "hot rocks" being exploited in Cornwall is found in granite. Coal is formed by peat being compressed by sediments, so the ground is much softer and a lot cooler. The temperature of the water in an abandoned coal mine is around 16°C. Although warm enough to be of benefit in a heating system, because warming water from 16°C to 50°C takes a lot less energy than starting at 4°C, you can't make electricity directly from it. In the hot granite in Cornwall, the temperature of the water is around 180°C. The steam can be used directly to power turbines, or through heat exchangers to heat water to above boiling point. The cooler waste water can be fed to zonal heating systems, as is proposed in Cornwall, or pumped back underground to heat up again.

The heat in the hot rocks comes mainly from radioactive decay. The Cornish hot water contains much higher concentrations of Thorium than are found elsewhere, although not sufficiently high as to be harmful in normal circumstances. I believe the drilling has found aquifers, but "dry" rocks can be exploited by pumping water into boreholes at sufficient pressure to form cracks.

Don't say it too loudly - this is nuclear energy, that could be exploited on a much wider scale by fracking.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: johnneyw on November 04, 2021, 09:04:21 pm
Government confirms that the environment bill will not apply to steam trains. 

According to Railadvent it's not just steam locomotives but heritage engines in general.

https://www.railadvent.co.uk/2021/11/government-confirms-environment-bill-will-not-apply-to-steam-locomotives.html



Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on November 05, 2021, 01:22:34 am
Good.
I am opposed to large scale coal burning for power generation, and the UK has ALREADY greatly reduced coal burning in power stations.

I would support limited coal burning for heritage or historical purposes. Since this is ungreen, I would hope that heritage railways and other heritage coal users would be as green as possible in other respects.




























Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: ellendune on November 05, 2021, 07:58:09 am
But once the heat pump is in you get far more heating (or cooling, depending which way it's running at the time) than the amount of power put into the pump. If you can run that pump off PV or wind or whatever's green at the time, you get more heat for your kilowatt than using that electricity directly for heating.

Yes correct.  A near surface ground source heat pump (without any significant geothermal energy) used for domestic heating typically has a Coefficient of Performance (COP) of 4 which means that it will typically produce 4 times more heat than the electricity put in. The amount of electricity required depends on the temperature increase you require so if there is some geothermal energy it would increase the COP but increasing the output temperature will decrease the COP. 

The COP of an air source heat pump is typically 3. 


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TonyK on November 05, 2021, 12:34:35 pm

Yes correct.  A near surface ground source heat pump (without any significant geothermal energy) used for domestic heating typically has a Coefficient of Performance (COP) of 4 which means that it will typically produce 4 times more heat than the electricity put in. The amount of electricity required depends on the temperature increase you require so if there is some geothermal energy it would increase the COP but increasing the output temperature will decrease the COP. 

The COP of an air source heat pump is typically 3. 

A family member is about to start building a house, and looking into the different options. He has the luxury of a blank canvas within a field. It seems ground source is better, but more expensive - is this right?


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: PhilWakely on November 05, 2021, 12:39:12 pm

Yes correct.  A near surface ground source heat pump (without any significant geothermal energy) used for domestic heating typically has a Coefficient of Performance (COP) of 4 which means that it will typically produce 4 times more heat than the electricity put in. The amount of electricity required depends on the temperature increase you require so if there is some geothermal energy it would increase the COP but increasing the output temperature will decrease the COP. 

The COP of an air source heat pump is typically 3. 

A family member is about to start building a house, and looking into the different options. He has the luxury of a blank canvas within a field. It seems ground source is better, but more expensive - is this right?

A ground source installation is somewhat more complicated, requiring pipes to be buried underground. See here (https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/air-source-heat-pumps-vs-ground-source-heat-pumps/)


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: ellendune on November 05, 2021, 02:24:05 pm

Yes correct.  A near surface ground source heat pump (without any significant geothermal energy) used for domestic heating typically has a Coefficient of Performance (COP) of 4 which means that it will typically produce 4 times more heat than the electricity put in. The amount of electricity required depends on the temperature increase you require so if there is some geothermal energy it would increase the COP but increasing the output temperature will decrease the COP. 

The COP of an air source heat pump is typically 3. 

A family member is about to start building a house, and looking into the different options. He has the luxury of a blank canvas within a field. It seems ground source is better, but more expensive - is this right?

A ground source installation is somewhat more complicated, requiring pipes to be buried underground. See here (https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/air-source-heat-pumps-vs-ground-source-heat-pumps/)

Yes and it will normally require a more space than the average garden for the pipes.  More suited to a rural location than a town.  Unless you want to go for a borehole in which case it is even more complicated. 


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on November 05, 2021, 02:32:44 pm
For a new house, I would favour great thermal mass and excellent insulation, together with MVHR. Such a house will need no heating in average winter weather, and only a very little heating in severe weather.
This very small heating demand is affordably met from direct electric heating.

In such a home I would install a small solid fuel stove, unlikely to be much used, but most useful to have in case electricity becomes unavailable for an extended period.

Grid tied PV to reduce electricity bills.
A small battery charging PV system to supply limited emergency power in case mains electricity becomes unavailable for an extended time.

Cooking all electric normally, but perhaps a small LPG hob in addition, with gas bottles in a safe external store.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: TonyK on November 06, 2021, 12:23:18 am
A ground source installation is somewhat more complicated, requiring pipes to be buried underground. See here (https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/air-source-heat-pumps-vs-ground-source-heat-pumps/)

Yes and it will normally require a more space than the average garden for the pipes.  More suited to a rural location than a town.  Unless you want to go for a borehole in which case it is even more complicated. 

Thank you both - interesting reading material. Definitely rural, and a borehole will be in place for water. That means that some drilling kit will be in situ, which could cut the cost a fair bit. The installation within the house will be the same, so I think I will look at the difference in cost versus difference in running costs. My role does not extend to decision making, but such information as is around tends to be either too generic or aimed at a particular answer.


Title: Re: The end of coal
Post by: broadgage on November 06, 2021, 05:16:36 am
The advantage of substantial thermal mass and extreme insulation, is that there is very little to go wrong.
Heat pumps are expensive to buy, may need costly repairs and consume significant electricity.

An extremely well insulated home will need NO heating in average winter weather, and only a little heating in severe weather.

MVHR adds complexity, but not as bad as a heat pump, and reduces energy use still further.


A super insulated home is immune to SHORT power cuts, it should remain comfortable for a few hours, and tolerable for up to 24 hours.
I therefore recommend a small solid fuel stove in case of any prolonged power outage. This should see very little use and is not the main heat source. It could however save your life if the power goes out for a week or more in a severe winter.

For similar reasons I would recommend  a small battery charging PV system, not worthwhile in strict financial terms, but could be most important in an emergency. A single 300 watt PV module and a couple of 12 volt deep cycle batteries would serve. That would provide for limited essential lighting, and low power portable electronics in an emergency.



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