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UK unions join forces in struggle to save coal mines and power plants

World Coal,

Two of the largest trade unions in the UK have joined together in a struggle to save the nation’s coal industry. Unite and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) are set to campaign for the preservation and extension of the last remaining coal mines and coal-fired power plants through the use of “revolutionary eco-technologies”, according to Unite spokespeople.

The unions said the UK coal industry was threatened as UK and EU carbon emission rules risk “premature closure of coal-fired power plants and mines”.

Any premature closures would mean “a devastating loss to Britain’s energy production and leave the country with just one working deep mine.”

The unions want to save UK coal-fired power plants and mines from closure, and for new and mothballed pits to be opened through the use of British deep and surface mined coal. 

To achieve this, the campaign calls for the immediate introduction of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies to protect the environment and ensure Britain’s energy future. 

“CCS technologies enable the return of carbon dioxide emissions from the power stations safely back underground, where they can be permanently stored and monitored to ensure they do not re-enter the atmosphere,” Unite said in a statement.

According to union data, the deployment of CCS could reduce the overall carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants by an estimated 90% and could also see a reduction in the price of wholesale electricity by 15%. 

Kevin Coyne, national officer for energy at Unite, said: “Coal produces 30% of the nation’s energy requirements and, without CCS, most power stations are due to close by 2026, with approximately 12 due to close by 2015.”

“While we welcome the deployment of carbon capture storage technology at Drax power station in north Yorkshire, this is far too little, too late, Coyne added. “The reduction in capacity on base load will take us outside of the reserve limit set by Ofgem and it has already commented that this is a real danger to electricity supply.”

“In order to bridge this gap, we need a balanced energy solution which sees carbon capture and storage at UK coal fired stations playing an integral role along with the jobs that will come from the reopening of Britain’s vast energy reserves,” Coyne concluded.

The NUM and Unite have launched a cleaner coal and coal combine website, which aims to unite workers in the energy sector. 

Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson

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