Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Britain, the host of the upcoming COP26 climate conference, is getting slammed by climate activists for authorising a new coking coal mine in the politically sensitive national electorate of Whitehaven. But environmentalists should be celebrating – coking coal is an essential ingredient in the production of silicon for solar panels.
Climate change: Minister rapped for allowing Cumbria coal mine
By Roger Harrabin
BBC Energy and Envrionment Analyst
The government’s climate change advisors have rapped ministers for allowing a new coal mine in Cumbria.
They say the site will increase global emissions and compromise the UK’s legally binding carbon budgets.
They warn the decision could undermine its leadership of the vital COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November.
The new deep coking coal mine was agreed by Cumbria County Council and the government previously said it did not want to intervene.
Environmentalists have reacted with astonishment and disbelief, saying the carbon from burning coal is clearly a global concern.
John Sauven, from Greenpeace, said: “It’s extraordinary that anyone still believes burning coal is only a local issue and has no global impacts.
“Let’s hope China doesn’t take the same view or the world will be toast. It certainly isn’t setting the global leadership on climate that the prime minister says he’s aspiring to.”
…Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-55871503
I’m surprised environmental groups are complaining so loudly about a new coking coal mine. How do they expect Britain to start manufacturing solar panels, without a supply of coking coal?
Large quantities of coking coal, or metallurgical coal, is an essential chemical ingredient for producing new solar panels. The coal is chemically combined in a furnace with sand, where it strips away the oxygen, converting sand (silicon dioxide) into pure silicon, the raw ingredient for silicon solar panels. In the process the coal chemically combines with the oxygen ripped from the sand, carrying the oxygen away as Carbon Monoxide and CO2.
There is another process which starts with sand and aluminium metal in place of coal, but I’m guessing there is a reason this isn’t the predominant process.
If greens want the world to go solar, the world is going to need a lot of coking coal like the new mine in Cumbria will supply, both for the initial transition and for ongoing maintenance.