What Does the BBC Expect Svalbard to Do When Its Coal Mine Is Shut?


By Paul Homewood



There is a back story to that BBC report about Svalbard.

Svalbard has been mining coal since the early 1900s. The last remaining mine is scheduled to shut in three years time purely to help Norway reduce emissions. The BBC knows which side it is on:

“if the fastest-warming place on earth can’t give up fossil fuels, what hope for everywhere else?”

It is of course deeply ironic that Svalbard’s climate was just as mild when these mines opened as it is now!

Most of the coal produced goes to Svalbard’s coal power station, which provides just about all of the island’s electricity, as well providing district heating in Longyearbyen. The rest of the coal is exported to European steel mills. So just what does the BBC propose the islanders do for heating and electricity when there is no more coal? Most likely they will have to import it, although there are also plans to burn oil instead. Either way emissions will increase rather then decrease.

In the longer run, there is a crackpot plan to use hydrogen, which would be produced by electrolysis from surplus wind power in Finnmark, hundreds of miles away. This wind power does not actually exist at the moment, so more wind farms would have to be built there. And the resulting hydrogen would have to be shipped, involving more cost and emissions.

Other plans involve building a long, extremely expensive undersea cable or using LNG.

All of these plans would be much more expensive than Svalbard’s coal power, and would inevitably take years to implement. In the meantime, maybe the BBC would like Svalbarders to burn whale oil, as their ancestors did in the past. Hey, at least it’s “renewable”, though I doubt even the BBC would call it “green”!

But the ultimate irony is that, as the BBC report, tourism is now the main source of income for Svalbard. Instead of demanding that Svalbarders give up their coal, maybe the BBC should campaign for an end to emission spewing tourist flights to Svalbard and other Arctic and Antarctic locations, so popular with eco-loons.

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October 29, 2022 6:06 am

They may have coal for power but you wouldn’t guess from the air quality. It is a beautiful place with more polar bears than people (excluding tourists). This “Green” nonsence needs to stop. Scrubbers on the chimneys make coal clean unless you bow to the “Carbon” idiots. Coal, and oil/gas, are part of the long carbon cycle and plants need MORE CO2.

Reply to  Greytide
October 29, 2022 6:14 am

I was there also. The tour guide carefully explained to the amateur environmentalists in the group that any other source of heat and power would be more polluting in all ways than using the local coal in a clean burning plant. Their minds did explode a little bit. Our small ship was powered by oil as were most of the others we saw, I am guessing. Sometimes the plume was visible.

Reply to  starzmom
October 29, 2022 6:38 am

Unless tthe ships had sails they were powered by oil – coal burners went out of use long ago; and even the sailing ones will have oil burning generators.

Rick C
Reply to  Oldseadog
October 29, 2022 7:31 am

The SS Badger car ferry that runs between Ludington, MI and Manitowoc, WI still burns coal. The owners say they will convert to a different fuel once they settle on a suitable alternative. Not likely to be wind, solar or hydrogen.

Bryan A
Reply to  Rick C
October 29, 2022 8:25 am

Perhaps Svalbard could charge other countries for storage in their Seed Vault. They could extend their “Seed” to animal embryos to make it a true Ark.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Rick C
October 29, 2022 8:35 am

Of no relevance whatsoever, but my dad grew up in Manitowoc. I visited my grandparents many many times. Nice town. It’s where I developed my love for lefse. My grandfather, a Norwegian going at about 6’6″ and 300 pounds, used to build submarines there during WWII. Of course, they called him “Tiny”.

Fun fact: Sputnik 1 crashed to earth on a residential street in Manitowoc. They have a piece of it still in the local museum.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
October 29, 2022 3:18 pm

Yes. It was Sputnik IV a dry run for the later manned flight but just contained a dummy and a small part landed in the centre of a local street

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Duker
October 29, 2022 9:58 pm

Thanks for the correction. My memory from a visit to the museum 45 or so years ago was a bit faulty. 😉

October 29, 2022 6:28 am

Well our Gummint is plugging spaghetti and meatballs renewables everywhere while the hedgers do a runner-
You need to get it through your thick heads lefties. You can control the quantity or the price but never both at the same time.

October 29, 2022 6:34 am

Looking at the sea temperature there is a small tongue of slightly warmer water, which has been there for several years, around the islands, but it is getting smaller and smaller and will probably disappear shortly. Then the islands will be evacuated because they will be getting too cold to live in for modern hominids.

John Bell
October 29, 2022 6:42 am

And the green energy planned would need lots of fossil fuels to make it all happen, ironic.

Rod Evans
October 29, 2022 6:44 am

That’s an easy one to answer. The BBC expects Svalbard residents to freeze to death like everyone one else in Northern Europe is expected to do, when they no longer have access to reliable sources of energy. Winters are very challenging periods to survive, if you do not have ample reliable energy supplies.

Reply to  Rod Evans
October 29, 2022 7:33 am

It probably laments coal workers weren’t aborted at the last possible moment before they exhaled their first breaths of CO2.

October 29, 2022 6:49 am

New slogan for the tourist brochure:

BYOC (BringYour Own Coal)

Howard Dewhirst
October 29, 2022 6:50 am

Clearly, neither Climate nor Irony are not the BBC’s strong suit

Howard Dewhirst
Reply to  Howard Dewhirst
October 29, 2022 6:51 am

oops Clearly, neither Climate nor Irony are the BBC’s strong suit

Reply to  Howard Dewhirst
October 29, 2022 7:17 am

Type in haste, edit at leisure!

October 29, 2022 6:59 am

“the BBC” is composed of people whom George Orwell summed up thusly

“In intention, at any rate, the English intelligentsia are Europeanized. They take their cookery from Paris and their opinions from Moscow Greenpeace. In the general patriotism of the country they form a sort of island of dissident thought. England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. 

In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during ‘God save the King’ than of stealing from a poor box.” – England Your England – George Orwell.

The BBC managed about 70 of its 100 years before the rot really set in. You won’t hear Lillibulero again.

Last edited 3 months ago by strativarius
Reply to  strativarius
October 29, 2022 10:29 am

It’s astonishing how accurate Orwell’s description of Leftists remains, even today.

Reply to  Graemethecat
October 30, 2022 6:00 am

Well, he was one – until the Spanish Civil War opened his eyes.

Reply to  strativarius
October 29, 2022 12:32 pm

I was sad when they dropped Lillibullero. I listened to the BBC World Service as a kid (in England) and when traveling internationally (portable SW radio) later. I still listen to it via Sirius Satellite Radio in my car (in Oregon), but it is not really the BBCWS any more Most of the content comes from NPR, interviews ar cut and paste jobs where the questions from an English person are pasted over the American interviewer, and “News” is reduced to 2 minutes every 30 minutes.

Oh, and “due to climate change” is an obligatory ending to every sentence.

Uncle Mort
October 29, 2022 7:02 am

I’m a Brit. I apologise for the BBC, it’s an absurd outfit but we can’t get rid of it.

Reply to  Uncle Mort
October 29, 2022 7:43 am

You can’t really apologise for that which you have no control over, whatsoever.

You can get mad about it.

Reply to  Uncle Mort
October 29, 2022 9:07 am

You, unlike the US, have a Parliamentary system where a MAJORITY with testicles can change EVERYTHING immediately.

Looking at what has been done in the past, the government taking over industries under labor , then selling them off, under Tory rule, says it all.

IF you can cast off Scotland and the massively liberal leaning of those voters, the remaining UK COULD not only dump the BBC, but all the rest of the leftist crap.

Much like in Canada where the voted of Quebec shifts the overall vote to the liberals and thus Trudope. In Canada, in stead of getting rid of Quebec, the western provinces MAY themselves separate from Ontario and the eastern provinces ridding themselves of the leftist BS. But, again, it takes testicles, and does anyone in power west of Ontario have what it takes?

Such a separation in the UK would leave the Scotts with a choice, increase oil and gas output to make up for their net positive balance sheet with the federal government and thus loss of subsidies for their leftist policies, or cut down their welfare state and bloated government.

In Canada, the productive oil provinces would be free to deliver their natural resources however and wherever they wish for profits, and to end subsidizing the Green wokism of the east. The only thing saving the eastern provinces is cheap reliable hydro power, built before woke came into existence. Today the dams would not be allowed.

In the US, it is a much harder thing. How do you cut out the major cities from the fly over country? As an example, Washington voting is dominated by Seattle and Portland controls Oregon. There is talk of eastern Oregon separating from western Oregon, but that does not help. A better solution is for both eastern Oregon and Washington joining to create a new state, and western Oregon and Washington being combined into one state. Thus the same number of senators as now, but one set forever Leftist and the other set, at least for now, conservative.

Robert Whetten
Reply to  Drake
October 29, 2022 11:38 am

Re USA 🇺🇸, Pacific Northwest (WA-OR- + N CA) & Intermountain West, check the Greater Idaho movement, grinding onward twd a resolution:

Climate believer
October 29, 2022 7:17 am

This community needs a reliable source of energy for it’s very survival. Remove that by switching to unreliable windmills and solar panels in an environment like Svalbard is just asking for trouble.

… meanwhile China building over half of the worlds new coal plants.

Harry Passfield
Reply to  Climate believer
October 29, 2022 1:04 pm

And that is why. China continuing to build whatever power station it likes with no come-back from the likes of XR in the West, and the desire to run down the power systems of the West – with the likes of XR – That is the reason. The West is being eaten from within by China, and fellow-travellers and fifth-columnists are enabling it.

Reply to  Harry Passfield
October 30, 2022 12:32 am

XR protestors know full well what would befall them if they tried their nonsense in Tiananmen Square.

John Oliver
October 29, 2022 7:28 am

Never underestimate the ability of the left to rationalize away the failure of their policy(s). First even if their is a cold winter and a short supply of affordable fuel or just fuel period; most people are not going to volunteer to freeze to death to make our point. They will go to a shelter, or relatives house ,somewhere else that has heat even if its just a wood stove.
Then the NutZeros will say::” See this is a great thing we have achieved our goal. Communal living, ridding the society of wasted excessive living space. No more heating the large old structures needlessly. Then when you can’t live in your home part of the year and can’t pay your taxes the gov gets your property.

John Oliver
Reply to  John Oliver
October 29, 2022 8:01 am

Of course on Svalbard -not many trees, maybe scavenge for some left over coal chunks, driftwood (peat? Ancient forest?)

Dr. Bob
October 29, 2022 7:42 am

Svalbard is an ideal site for small scale nuclear. I was just introduced to a company called X-Energy that is developing small scale nuclear reactors for commercial use. Dow invested in them to provide Green Hydrogen for Dow Chemical processes.
X-energy | HTGR | Advanced Nuclear Reactors (SMR) & TRISO Fuel

I know little about this approach to nuclear power but it seems on the surface to be a viable approach.

October 29, 2022 7:49 am

The greens are always on board with cutting energy as long as their own comfort and travel are not at risk. However they do refuse energy such as wind and solar when it is to be installed in their back yard. In other words greens don’t want, for themselves, what they would impose on others.

October 29, 2022 8:05 am

Putin will take the island when the right mix of leaders are considered too weak to respond under nuclear threats. It’s a real game of Risk.

Jeff Alberts
October 29, 2022 8:30 am

Typo: “Either way emissions will increase rather then decrease.”

Chris Nisbet
October 29, 2022 8:52 am

The NZ state propaganda outlet subjected us to this BBC item the other day. I’m not sure if it was part of the BBC item, but they took the opportunity to ‘inform’ us that polar bears and seals were at risk of running out of food due to the massive warming going on there. It didn’t occur to them to let us know what had _actually_ happened to polar bear populations over the last few decades.

October 29, 2022 9:00 am

Hmm… the population of Svalbard appears to be 2,552 as of 2022. 484 of those are employed in mining and would presumably leave when the mine closes.

How to supply electricity to 2,068 people?

Reply to  griff
October 29, 2022 9:53 am

You seem to have forgotten the large number of tourists. Polar bears also need electricity!

Reply to  griff
October 29, 2022 9:59 am

Diesel generator would be the best option.

Bryan A
Reply to  MarkW
October 29, 2022 4:37 pm

Certainly far more reliable 24/7 than snow/ice covered solar panels that only produce from 10am til 2pm local time or frozen turbines that would require FF generation anyway to keep them from freezing. Offshore wind is out of the question unless you want to import the energy from a great distance as Ice Floes would hinder their steadfastness. And batteries might become highly explosive from repeated freeze/thaw cycles and potential water damage from the snow pack. Nuclear would be an excellent option.

Keith Rowe
Reply to  griff
October 29, 2022 10:32 am

With the jobs gone from mining and power plant. Why would they be there? Farming?

Reply to  Keith Rowe
October 29, 2022 1:31 pm

Putin is asking the same thing.

Harry Passfield
Reply to  griff
October 29, 2022 1:10 pm

OK, clever-clogs: a coal-fired power-station supporting such a small number of people must, by definition, be insignificant to the likes of global warming (as claimed by nutters like you), so why close it down. People like you are the new NZCs.

Reply to  griff
October 29, 2022 1:30 pm

It will be a much colder place. Wonder what the mine temperature is compared to the surface.

Loren C. Wilson
Reply to  griff
October 29, 2022 5:57 pm

The same way it’s being done. No need to change.

Reply to  griff
October 29, 2022 7:34 pm

That would actually make about 1000 people not dependent on coal mining, when considering wives and kids. Not much of a population left! And not much left to sustain the evonomy.

Reply to  griff
October 29, 2022 7:40 pm

So you’re saying zero indirect and induced impact from mining in the economy and population? That’s another fail Griff (Ed).

October 29, 2022 12:14 pm

Svalbard Global Seed Vault
In 2008 had 320,549 samples
In 2020 had 1,074,533 samples

Last edited 3 months ago by vuk
October 29, 2022 12:51 pm

It appears from the story that there are numerous plans for powering the island after the coal fires are dropped, but is anything being done about it? 3 years isn’t a very long time.

October 29, 2022 1:48 pm

A cold hard winter in Europe will sort out the nonsense.

another ian
October 29, 2022 1:55 pm

“If you like watching an engineer with a whiteboard and a few calculations demolish hydrogen use as a vehicle fuel, this video is for you.”


Via https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2022/10/09/w-o-o-d-9-october-2022/#comment-160886

October 29, 2022 2:20 pm

To hell with the BBC keep the mine open and the tourists coming.

October 29, 2022 2:33 pm

I doubt Svalbard’s tourism industry will survive without electricity.

Ed Zuiderwijk
October 30, 2022 6:32 am

But what, I pray, will the Polar bears eat if the tourists stay away?

Last edited 3 months ago by Ed Zuiderwijk
Anders Valland
October 31, 2022 3:18 am

The plan is actually for ammonia to be produced by use of “locked-in” wind power at a location where the grid is too weak to allow for efficient use of generated power. This makes the ammonia “green”. The ammonia is to be shipped to Svalbard and stored in underwater tanks at the bottom of the Isfjorden where Longyearbyen is situated. The power station there can then burn ammonia to make electricity and central heating for everyone.

Of course this is “green” ammonia, and nothing bad could happen. As everyone knows who have never been around household ammonia, let alone real ammonia, this substance is “green” and thus entirely beneficial to society and life in general since it contains no carbon. Carbon is a lethal substance since it messes up Climate(tm).

Relax, the people behind this are professionals and know what they are doing. Nothing could go wrong.

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