In the news today was an item about heritage steam railways now facing serious shortages in coal supplies and the prospect of a sharp increase in prices. Also, they are having to burn whatever they can get and not the preferred forms.
The recent fire at Daw in Warwickshire and the failure of Scottish Coal have led to the immediate situation although the risks of such shortage were increasing. But around the world and in relation to energy policy, coal is still a major fuel.
Energy policy is complex, difficult to assess and has many unpopular features among environmental interests who are very often opposed to the suppliers and those who process the fuels.
This makes for difficult politics and this makes for delay or the inability to come to decisions soon enough for the development of and expansion of energy supplies. Given the habit of governments throwing money at problems this area has seen too many corporations being given easy money for doubtful projects.
An article in the Oil Drum has a pessimistic view on what is going on.
If the clock is ticking and present trends of demands and requirements are anywhere near correct then it could become serious. The one certainty is that to put in place the investment and the construction for new supplies takes a long time and in many places has not even made it off the planning boards.
What is more is that between all the various real costs and the political needs not only may the process be too long delayed but in many cases may not even start because those involved cannot afford it.
With prices due to increase sharply as well as a consequence of the shortages and these increase it increases the disincentive for new investment by risk takers.
So when will Thomas The Tank Engine and The Flying Scotsman become horse drawn?