While politicians in pre-election mode try to score political points over the imminent closure of Longannet, none are publicly shedding tears over the potential impact on Scotland's indigenous coal sector, which has long had the Fife plant as its biggest customer.

Although lacking in political friends, Scotland's open cast coal mining sector (the last "pit" - ironically also at Longannet - closed in 2002), is nevertheless fiercely proud of its part in a diverse energy mix and its essential role in keeping the proverbial lights on.

Despite the imminent loss of the Fife power station, by far the largest consumer of its products, following the decision by National Grid to award SSE/Scottish Hydro's Peterhead gas-fired facility, the industry is taking the news with well-practised resignation.

"We've seen the way in which UK policy has been skewed to get unabated coal fire plant out of the energy mix so closure of the plants and any decision not to invest them doesn't come as too much of a shock" said Philip Garner director general of Coalpro (The Confederation of UK Coal Producers).

Carefully stressing his industry's commitment to mitigating climate change, Garner nevertheless believes that government policy in the UK offers plenty of carrots to renewable technologies through the regime of "contracts for difference" and suchlike, and plenty of stick (in the form of penalties) to fossil fuel or thermal producers, despite the essential role of the latter in easing the transition to the energies of the future. He believes that Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), the potentially revolutionary technology of removing carbon and other harmful gasses from emissions and "burying" them deep below the ocean floor - a technology that would clean up coals's image, as well as its environmental effects, has been only half-heartedly promoted while other forms of clean energy have been pursued "with vigour and urgency".

The CCS dream has a long but mostly uneventful history in the UK, for all the gallons of ink spilled on its potential in government reports and the media. The UK Government first announced a £1bn "competition" to design construct and operate a CCS plant in 2007, although the competition was subsequently withdrawn in 2010 as unaffordable, after £40m of government money had been spent on designs. Preserving a domestic market for indigenously produced coal by this means never appears to have featured as a top priority.

Garner said: "Our plan is to persuade government to make policies that would encourage the limited amount of investment that would be needed to bridge the period until Carbon Capture and Storage technology became available, perhaps in the middle of the next decade."

"While Longannet's closure does have an impact on the Scottish coal industry, it's by no means fatal, it just makes life more difficult for us. I guess we regard all of this as a result of successive governments within Westminster, and to some extent in Scotland as well passionately pursuing the goal of decarbonising the electricity market without any particular regard to the cost of it all. Our view in Coalpro is that there is a way to make decarbonisation more affordable by keeping these fossil fuel plants available until such time as CCS is developed."

"At the moment all we seem to be doing is closing plants, but no-one's building anything new."

The possibility of energy-rich Scotland having to become an electricity importer as its baseload power supply - of which Longannet was a major component - starts to go offline, has been used in recent weeks as a stick to beat the "renewables-fixated" Scottish Government by opposition politicians, but also by some energy academics, who have talked of "chickens coming home to roost."

But the industry insists, more positively, that coal has a respectable and integral role in the global energy future - with demand expected to rise by 37 per cent by 2040, driven by growth in the developing world. This increase, they argue, must be met by gas and coal because of its affordability and reliability, making the case for fast-tracking CCS unarguable.

In addition, the UK coal lobby regards what it sees the sidelining of coal at the expense of gas as putting at risk a UK industry worth £1bn per year, providing 6000 direct jobs in regions that, as it delicately expresses it, are "highly susceptible to socio-economic issues". They also see the relatively cheapness of coal-derived energy as crucial to the ability of Britain to compete on the world stage by keeping energy costs low for business.

More specifically, the industry complains that, with renewables taking up much larger proportion of the energy mix - approaching 50 per cent in Scotland, penalised fossil fuel providers such as Scottish Power at Longannet are still being expected to crank up baseload at times of need, with fewer and fewer commercial incentives to do so.

As if in response to accusations that not enough had been done to support the reliable and flexible thermal power workhorses of the Scottish energy sector, the Scottish Government on Friday announced what might have been seen as a potential lifeline for Longannet had it appeared several years previously (although the costs and technical challenging of retrofitting CCS on an old power station were always likely to be considerably greater than building a new one).

The new development announced last week is a Scottish and UK Government-funded £4.2 million project for industrial research and feasibility work for a proposed full-chain 570 MW Carbon-Capture-Storage (CCS) coal-gasification power station located in Grangemouth.

The funding, of which £2.5 million is from the Scottish Government and £1.7 million from Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), will allow the Seattle-based Summit Power Group to undertake "substantial industrial research and feasibility studies with the ultimate objective of designing, siting, financing, and building their proposed Caledonia Clean Energy Project".

According to the Scottish Government's statement: "For the first time, this large scale low-carbon power project aims to combine and integrate state-of-the-art coal gasification, 570 MW power generation, and carbon capture technologies in a single facility. The proposed power station will be fitted with CCS technology designed to capture 90% of CO2 emissions which would then be transported via existing on-shore pipelines and existing sub-sea pipelines for permanent geological storage 2km beneath the North Sea."

In addition, energy minister Fergus Ewing emphasised the continuing role that he sees for fossil fuels, albeit only if modified by the still largely unproven CCS technology

"In the power sector, CCS can contribute significantly to the diversity and security of electricity supply, and also has a unique role to play in providing a continuing supply of flexible fossil fuel capacity that is able to respond to demand in the way that other low carbon technologies are not able to."

CCS, which was once promoted as a means to renew the life of Longannet, a notoriously polluting plant in European terms, has been a dream of the UK energy sector at least since 2007, is portrayed by Coalpro's Garner as the poor relation amongst clean technologies so far.

He bemoans the fact that any technological advantage the UK had has now been lost, and the most talked-about pilot project is currently in Canada's C$1.6bn Boundary Dam Power Station in Saskatchewan Province, where SaskPower already operates one of the world's first and largest full production carbon capture, in operation since October last year. The post-combustion full flue gas capture process is set to capture 1 million tonnes of CO2 a year.

As well as mitigating the emissions of the Canadian tar-sand burning plant, SaskPower will also be generating revenue from the facility by selling a portion of the captured CO2 back into the market to be used for enhanced oil recovery, a recycling bonus of potential interest to the North Sea industry.

Up until last week's announcement on the Grangemouth project, the only CCS project in the UK related to coal was the 448MWe, coal-fired demonstration oxy-fuel power plant with full CCS equipment, currently awaiting planning consent to be built on land adjacent to the existing Drax Power Station, near Selby, North Yorkshire.

Speaking to the Sunday Herald prior to the Grangemouth announcement, Garner said: "The UK Government said it was going to lead the world in this technology and sadly so far we are certainly are not leading the world and we have some catching up to do. We have a CCS project for the [gas fired] Peterhead power station, and a coal fired project at White Rose at Drax in Yorkshire, but it is still by no means certain that the government will ultimately fund a CCS-fitted power station."

"They are saying is that this competition may fund both plants but it's possible that only one of those plants will qualify for funding, they may decide just to fund one of those projects. We won't know until early 2016 when both projects will have done the front end engineering and design phase, and are then due to be assessed by the Department of Energy and Climate Change."

With the closure of Longannet, what will become of the remaining Scottish open cast mines in Fife, East Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway and elsewhere, on which thousands of jobs still depend? Apart from the small amount required for domestic and industrial use, most will be sent down by rail to the Aire and Trent Valleys in Yorkshire to be burned in English coal-fired plants. The extra expense of transporting it may render the extraction of Scottish coal uneconomic, which would please those in the Green Party and in some local communities who would prefer that Scottish coal "remains in the ground". Although the demise of the residue of Scotland's time-honoured coal industry is unlikely to be more of a whimper than the political bang that accompanied the pit closures in the '70s and '80s, it will nevertheless provoke similar charges that more value was there to be extracted for the benefit of many.

Longannet no more....

Built in 1973 and now inefficient, Longannet is alone responsible for nearly a fifth of Scotland's total climate emissions, releasing 9.5m tonnes of CO2 in 2013. Last year, a coalition of climate and environment groups put Longannet at 21st in the European league of polluters in their report Europe's Dirty 30, while the Scottish government has consistently failed to hit its climate emissions reductions targets.

With Longannet soon out of the picture, attention is urgently focused on replacing the Scotland's back-up energy supply, with National Grid striking a deal with SSE's Peterhead facility.

Coalpro estimates that there are approximately 1000 jobs in Longannet's local coal supply chain, direct and indirect, This includes jobs in mining, logistics, processing and support services. "These are typically well paid roles and often in areas where alternative employment opportunities are limited. The closure of the station [places] these roles in jeopardy."