Coal in comeback as gas prices rise

The amount of coal used by UK power stations last year increased to the highest level since 1996, as higher gas prices forced electricity suppliers to find other sources of power.

This resulted in a slight increase in carbon dioxide emissions.

The government figures, newly released on the DTI website, also show a decrease in domestic coal production of 18%. Imports of coal were 21% higher, and generators' demand for coal was up by 3.5%.

Deep mined coal production was down to 9.5 million tonnes. Opencast coal production was at its lowest level since 1975; 13% lower than in 2004. Ellington mine had to close due to flooding, leaving eight major deep mines.

High oil and gas prices over the past year have meant that coal is again a viable option for generators.

Power generators burned 32.7 million tonnes of coal last year, measured in terms of its oil-equivalent weight. This compares with 31.3m in 2004 and 25.5 in 1999.

Britains's carbon dioxide emissions rose very slightly as a consequence, from 156.9 to 157.4 million tonnes.

This is a precis of a newspaper article, with the journalism removed. 30 May 06.


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