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« Sustainable science - Josh 356 | Main | The BBC and the chief scientist »

Holyrood smothers another new industry at birth

Cluff Natural Resources has stopped all work on its plans for underground coal gasification in the Firth of Forth. There seems to be a strong hint that the are turning their backs on the development for good.

The Holyrood administration's moratorium has killed off coalbed methane development north of the border completely. It now looks as if they have done for UCG as well.

It's hard to imagine any unsubsidised industrial business wanting to invest in Scotland when the administration is at the beck and call of the greens.

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Reader Comments (47)

Barking mad, nothing more, nothing less!

Jan 8, 2016 at 12:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Everything goes in cycles, first in first out. Having invented the modern world, be first to depart.

Jan 8, 2016 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Relax, there's plenty of opportunities for new hydro power.

Jan 8, 2016 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

I doubt very much whether the greens will tolerate new "hydro" schemes due to the alledged environmental damage such schemce might cause! The loss of habitat, wildlife displacement, etc!

Jan 8, 2016 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

JamesG - Do you have a site shortlist?

Jan 8, 2016 at 12:19 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

The erosion of civil society by climate extremists continues unabated.

Jan 8, 2016 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Power cuts Scotland having to import Coal Fired Electricity from Germany

Jan 8, 2016 at 12:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

Back to life among the heather, proud and poor as kirk mice,
1697 style - the year Scottish student Thomas Aikenhead
was executed for blasphemy.

Jan 8, 2016 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterBeth Cooper

This is only to be expected from a govt that wants independence, it wants to preserve its natural resources for that eventuality, but how to explain its drive to NOT have any proper power stations (coal and nuclear)?

Jan 8, 2016 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

I do have the horrible feeling that this is going to continue until we are told to accept prolonged, major blackouts. Things might get more interesting, then.

Jan 8, 2016 at 12:51 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

A two acre gas fired power station site is a lot less impact on local wildlife than a Hydro Electric Dam wipeing out a couple of miles of river bank.

Jan 8, 2016 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

Alex McSalmond was a banking then an oil economist with the Royal Bank of Scotland Whatever the media might say, that is a perfect profile for a global warming supporter. Killing off coal seems to be a large part of the AGW project.

Jan 8, 2016 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

There are a lot of issues smothering investment in conventional fossil fuel extraction right now, never mind unconventional forms. If history repeats then investment will be too late and we'll have a mad scramble to source energy in about a decade. Ministers will have crisis meetings to ask why industry isn't responding fast enough to demands. They will pooh pooh the idea that it takes time to go from a standing start to full production.

Jan 8, 2016 at 1:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Alec Salmond was an 'oil economist'..?

Oh - he would obviously have seen the price of oil collapsing from $115 to $32 coming, then - and wouldn't have based the economy of an independent Scotland on North Sea oil revenues, would he..?

Jan 8, 2016 at 1:25 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1


In addition to the request from "not banned yet", on that list could you ensure the expected power output (per year) is shown? That would be very useful for discussion.

Jan 8, 2016 at 1:28 PM | Unregistered Commenterrms

Radical Rodent:
That's why I'm aiming for a well-insulated house out in the sticks with a wood-pile, propane tank and generator.
I don't trust either Westminster or Holyrood to get the message on this issue until the lights actually go out.
I'm not looking forward to the next few years. It's going to be a sad day when Longannet finally shuts down.
Must go for a tour whilst it's still running. Very impressive I'm told.

Jan 8, 2016 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered Commentermorebeerplease

You're right about Eck's background and the unholy alliance between the oil companies and the luddites.
Eventually someone got their hands on the US paperwork that proved that the oil majors were in bed with a couple of the big American NGOs. Object: destroy the coal industry.
I think they eventually realised that they were going to get bitten as well but by that time it was too late.

Jan 8, 2016 at 1:50 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

An excellent Xmas present from No 1 son has gone a long way to allay the major concern I had regarding north of the border activities.

Jan 8, 2016 at 2:04 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

The people of Scotland gave an overwhelming majority to the SNP.

Scotland, No Power.

Jan 8, 2016 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Mike Jackson

Thanks, agreed.

The amazing thing is how people fall for the idea of the greenest country on earth when this chant goes up at the start of every SNP rally

Ein Volk Brigadoon

Ein Fuehrer Nicola Sturgeon.

Ein Policy 'It's Oor Oil'.

Jan 8, 2016 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Well there was a certain amount of irony involved in my statement but a fair question deserves a fair answer...'s%20Hydro%20Resource%20(Sep%202009).pdf

"A recent update on the 2008 Hydro Resource Study estimates there could be 1.2 GW of financially viable new hydro capacity across over 7,000 schemes,"

Jan 8, 2016 at 2:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

It's not an unholy alliance it's a split...

"The SNP's Westminster energy spokesman, the Aberdeen South MP Callum McCaig, also alluded to a split within his party in response to questions from delegates. He said: "There is a broad church in the SNP on this... there are a huge number of my colleagues who are not in favour of fracking, there are a fair number who are in favour and there are quite a large number who are there to be persuaded."

Unlike the Labour an Tory parties who demand abject subservience to the leadership by dint of whips and reshuffles, some parties constrain themselves by the opinion of the public who voted for them. Unfortunately it seems that nimbyism combined with outright lies from the well-funded green machine have won the propaganda war over industry and employment prospects which used to be everyone's main concern.

Jan 8, 2016 at 2:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Perhaps they're still hoping there is mega-oil on the west coast of Scotland, and it's a conspiracy by the Sassanachs?

West coast oil boom was blocked by MoD

Scottish West Coast untapped oil and gas reserves worth trillions

Jan 8, 2016 at 2:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterRudolph Hucker

JamesG how many light bulbs can a "could be" illuminate?

Rather than blame all Scotland's issues on Mrs Thatcher, why don't you try to stop the SNP making mistakes that are foreseeable now?

Jan 8, 2016 at 2:50 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

"Cluff Natural Resources has stopped all work on its plans for underground coal gasification in the Firth of Forth."

From the link:
"The company, which holds nine UCG licences across Scotland, England and Wales, claimed the £250 million scheme could generate £603m for the economy and create 1,000 jobs.

But now it has announced all spending on the project has been halted, blaming a Scottish Government moratorium on the technology."

What is the point of acquiring a UCG licence and funding exploration in the area if the UCG cannot be extracted? :)

Jan 8, 2016 at 3:28 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

@GC 1.GW from 7,000 schemes ..em that the same power you get from ONE propet power station nthese days coal/nuclear/gas

Jan 8, 2016 at 3:33 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

JamesG on Jan 8, 2016 at 2:26 PM

"A recent update on the 2008 Hydro Resource Study estimates there could be 1.2 GW of financially viable new hydro capacity across over 7,000 schemes,"

That gives an average of 172 kW for each hydro installation.

With windmills now having a maximum output of around 2-3 MW, that would be around 15 times the capacity of the average hydro installation expected in this estimate. :)

Jan 8, 2016 at 3:41 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

If Cluff decides to halt UCG in the Forth it may have as much to do with the decision of the Westminster government to halt CCS

"UCG can best contribute to a sustainable future if it is coupled to carbon capture and storage (CCS), a rapidly-emerging technology. The principal features of CCS operations were explained by Fells and Horlock in their article Carbon Capture and Storage (see Ingenia27). Following capture from a gas stream, the carbon dioxide must be compressed until it adopts its ‘super-critical’ form, in which it has the high density typical of a liquid, but retains the high compressibility of a gas. Super-critical carbon dioxide is also characterised by a low viscosity, which is a useful property when it comes to subsurface injection. Most discussion of CCS to date has considered storage only in depleted oil and gas reservoirs or geologically-similar deep saline aquifers. The voids created by UCG operations offer further possibilities."

Here is the link:

Jan 8, 2016 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered Commentersam


stewgreen and Robert Christopher have responded with ballpark estimates of the SNP's proposed power plan. I have not checked any of the sums, but my gut instinct favours their sums, over the one's you and the SNP are relying on as "could be".

The SNP appears to have decided not to make a decision. Is that the fault of UK Prime Ministers and Governments going back to Mrs Thatcher? If/when the SNP achieve independence, are you still going to blame Mrs Thatchet?

Jan 8, 2016 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

sam 3:57, there is no point, or economic justification in carbon capture.

Unless you want to inject into carbonated Highland bottled water.

Jan 8, 2016 at 4:03 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

g c '4.03

Didn't say there was.

Jan 8, 2016 at 4:07 PM | Unregistered Commentersam

Unfortunately hydro schemes do not produce electricity when they are flooded, as the inhabitants of Aberdeenshire found out today.

Jan 8, 2016 at 4:31 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

I never mentioned Thatcher - have you been on the sauce? I actually had Corbyn in mind when I mentioned reshuffles. However any dead hand in charge is still a dead hand. My respect for the SNP comes only from the fact that they have up to now increased jobs and exports, talked up the North Sea and warned of the coming energy crisis while the others seem to be just scratching their arses. Alas that respect is waning with every new daft decision like this moratorium - which was originally introduced to counter the idiotic Jim Murphy pre-election but has now taken a life of its own.

Also you seem to think I have some direct line to the SNP while all I am trying to do is correct some of the stupid anti-Scottish strawmen arguments and insults that seem to originate from the English press. I have as much power as yourself in this regard; ie zero.

And yes these hydro projects are small scale and insufficient and come from an independent panel of experts rather than some blowhard on a blog.

Jan 8, 2016 at 4:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Direct audio of Prof Paul Younger enthusiasticlly promoting coal gasification on BBC radio's Life Scientific a few weeks ago

His project is off the coast on Northumbria
He works at a SCOTTISH university in Glasgow
- note how he mentions using the gas as a chemical feedstock for products rather than burning it to make CO2

Jan 8, 2016 at 4:33 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

" My respect for the SNP comes only from the fact that they have up to now increased jobs and exports, talked up the North Sea and warned of the coming energy crisis "

The SNP have caused the coming energy crisis by pushing wind power over all other energy sources and putting a moratorium on unconventional gas . Coal is going. The baseload currently provided by nuclear has a finite lifespan with no plans for replacement.

The north sea can be talked up all you want but it is still a declining field with most of the oil already extracted.

Jan 8, 2016 at 4:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterTed

Jan 8, 2016 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

As we've been blaming "the Clearances" for all our woes for the last 150-odd years, no doubt we'll go on blaming Mrs. Thatcher for the next 150 !

Jan 8, 2016 at 5:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Constable

There is a broad church in the SNP on this... there are a huge number of my colleagues who are not in favour of fracking, there are a fair number who are in favour and there are quite a large number who are there to be persuaded."

Please enlighten us on any attempts at persuasion.
All I'm hearing from SNP types ( and I know plenty, supporters and signed-up activists) is wall-to-wall download of US anti-fracking propaganda.

This in Aberdeen, the only place in the UK where you might find a quorum of experts who had actually heard of fracking before the Gasland bulldust and it's following tsunami of guff started.

Jan 8, 2016 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

Hunter at 12:36 PM
"The erosion of civil society by climate extremists continues unabated."

Au contraire, it is our CIVILISED Society that is ruined by "Civil Society."

The UN loves its homophones, "climate change" being another,

Jan 8, 2016 at 8:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterManfred

No point to it at current oil / coal prices.

Why develop new offshore coal when you are closing down all remaining domestic land based coal extraction.
It would entail pointless capex costs.

The Sterling zone is in a position of buying any and all global seaborne trade.
The UK is now London's greenbelt.

Jan 8, 2016 at 8:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Years ago, when I worked for the old National Coal Board, this process was thought of as the Holy Grail and much researched. At the time , the technology was just conceivable but it was not feasible economically. Now that its time ought to have come to create jobs and prosperity in the old coalfields where it is most needed, it is being wrecked by the luddites from the green blob.

Jan 8, 2016 at 8:50 PM | Unregistered Commentertreforus

It wasn't just researched, there was an active project in the Shropshire coalfield. It worked and was clean and practical, but as you say not economic at that time.

please engage brain before pressing send. Underground Coal Gasification is what it says, in situ conversion of coal to gas, and extraction of the latter for energy production and/or chemical feedstock. It has stuff all to do with "current oil/coal prices".

Jan 8, 2016 at 9:12 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

JamesG & sam, whether with independence or not, I would love to see Scotland prosper. The SNP are in the best position of any party in the EU, to kick the Green Crap out. It seems the SNP are offering some form of sanctuary to failed and doomed technology, as the rest of the UK's electorate is working it out for themselves.

Jan 8, 2016 at 11:50 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

GC; "It seems the SNP are offering some form of sanctuary to failed and doomed technology, as the rest of the UK's electorate is working it out for themselves."

Unfortunately, the same applies to Wales. Plaid Cymru seems as intent as the SNP to out green the Greens.

Jan 9, 2016 at 12:15 AM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Don't forget that SNP rule at Holyrood was dependent on Green (ugh, how I hate the capitalisation) votes for quite some time. It may just be payback time.

Jan 9, 2016 at 12:42 AM | Unregistered Commentermorebeerplease

Oil into Diesel and heavy fuel oil is primed to replace higher capex energy in whatever form.

Yee guys just do not see this.

You are falling for the old bank scarcity trap.
Surplus diesel will be dumped on the market.
It will be epic event.
Banks have inflated the cost of energy via pointless increases in transport for the entire post war period at the very least.
Once inflation disappears extra work ( using diesel) seeking energy will become pointless.
The oil will be used direct, no messing.

Jan 9, 2016 at 1:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

The SNP don't really seem to be all that concerned with those aspects of the Scottish environment that they can influence. After all they are responsible for despoiling Highland landscapes with inefficient wind turbines and the pylons needed to carry the electricity generated, when the wind is blowing, to where it is needed.

Jan 9, 2016 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Golf Charlie: "JamesG & sam, whether with independence or not, I would love to see Scotland prosper." Sorry, but not with independence or full fiscal autonomy. Scotland is where it is because of the Barnett formula and Westminster borrowing. Peter Jones had an article in The Scotsman 8 Dec. 15 where he demonstrated that an independent Scottish Government would have a deficit of 12.9 billion £Sterling per annum. I arrived at roughly the same deficit through another route. The Barnett formula provides £1200 pppa extra (compared with England) or £6 billon annually. If you deduct this from UK borrowing of £75 billion this leaves £69 billion of which Scotland would receive (population share) 5.5 billion. Responsibility for all renewable obligations would be transferred to Scotland at around £2 billion per annum (EU law). So that equates to near enough 13.5 billion Sterling or close to Peter Jones' figure. Swinney is not keen for this to become common knowledge and Salmond is not exactly using a loudspeaker to inform the Scots that he was entirely wrong in predicting oil at over $110/barrel. Scotland will be sunk under independence and Cameron was right when he said he would protect Scotland from calamity. I wonder for how long the English will fund this circus up here. If Boris Johnson takes over he may just tell the Scots go ahead and become independent. Would help Osborne to reduce borrowing by £11 billion p.a.

Jan 10, 2016 at 11:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Peter

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