Welsh coal in high demand to power the nation

Coal mined at Ffos y Fran near Merthyr Tydfil Credit: ITV News Wales

It may be a big part of our past, but coal certainly plays its part in Wales' present.

Eighteen per cent of our energy comes from coal fired power stations, a significant proportion of which is mined and burnt within the country. Although environmentalists like Friends of the Earth say Wales should be moving away from using fossil fuels, mines like Ffos y Fran are struggling to keep up with demand.

The site currently produces over a million tonnes a year, with 83 per cent of that going straight to Aberthaw power station in the Vale of Glamorgan.

I think that we would possibly take every ounce of Welsh coal that could be delivered. It gives us a number of advantages for our process... the power station was designed specifically to fire Welsh coal so the more Welsh coal we can fire - the better.

Over half of the coal used at Aberthaw comes from Welsh coal suppliers. The site then burns that coal to help create electricity - enough to power Cardiff five times over.

Using fossil fuels like coal has always been controversial. Not only in the way its mined and burnt - but also in the knowledge that it will one day run out.

Ffos y Fran says as well as mining coal it's helping to develop the land near Merthyr Tydfil - and creating jobs for local people.

We currently have about 200 people working on this site. The majority of them - just over 80 per cent - living locally to the site. What we're doing is actually coal mining as part of the reclamation scheme - we're mining areas that have previously been mined by deep mining methods, historically - so it is a clean up of the land here.

But it's not just environmentalists who are concerned about using fossil fuels. Npower, the company who run Aberthaw power station, admit that using fuel like coal is not ideal.

They do, however, say that it is needed whilst the country moves across to more renewable energy sources.

And until that time comes, it appears Welsh coal will continue to play its part in helping provide electricity for Wales.