Tag Archives: Coal

Green Policies Return the World to Coal, by Clarice Feldman

Renewable energy is not yet ready for prime time, and mistakenly thinking that is has meant that coal, the dirtiest of energies, has had to pick up the slack. From Clarice Feldman at americanthinker.com:

There’s scarcely a place in the modern world that will not be feeling the high cost and discomfort of a shortage of energy supplies and their increasingly soaring prices. Lebanon already is. Due to a shortage of oil, the two power plants that supply 40% of that country’s electricity shut down. There is no electricity in Lebanon and will not be any for some days.

It’s an extreme case, but even the United Kingdom, the EU, the U.S., and China are running up against diminishing ability to obtain the necessary energy supplies to keep things running smoothly. Some of the shortages are due to accidents, like the cutting of an undersea cable to the UK, but most are due to green policies and stupid political choices, ironically shutting down oil and gas-fired power plants and fossil fuel exploitation and transport at the demand of the greens, who grossly overestimate both global warming and the ability of air, sun and water to take their place. Ironically, this means coal — the dirtiest possible fuel — is back in huge demand,

Despite an import ban on Australian coal, China relented and has begun unloading Australian coal because of an extreme power crunch. Coal is now in demand in Europe as gas prices soar and the EU’s energy policies are in large responsible:

The ideological split will drive a wedge between the European Union, a long-time champion of a coal phaseout, and corporate interests as market conditions favour gas-to-coal switching. The switching ratio has slid in coal’s favour in the last weeks of June 2021 and judging by the current futures structure, it will stay in place until at least Q2-2022 [snip] Given the natural limitations to further coal utilization, in Germany the main interaction in the upcoming weeks will be between coal and wind. Coal-fired electricity generation rose to multi-year highs in the first weeks of September when every single day saw wind generation only a fraction of its usual strength and speed. Now, the situation has changed somewhat as wind started blowing again, dropping hard coal generation to an average generation rate of 7.5-8 GWh, still some 30-35% higher than at this time of the year in 2020. Yet still, Germany’s travails are far from over, especially with December looming large on the horizon. According to preliminary plans, that month alone three nuclear plants will stop operating in Germany — Brokdorf, Grohnde and Gundremmingen — with a combined (non-intermittent) capacity of 4 GW, representing the penultimate wave of nuclear phase-out closures before 2022 sees the last 3 reactors decommissioned. Such substantial capacity would need to be replaced with either coal or gas, with profitability skewed overwhelmingly towards the former. [snip]

The current coal demand surge should force the European Union to reconsider its position on coal — as polluting as it might be, it could still help alleviate energy crunches across Europe when the situation demands it. As things stand today, the upcoming four years would see at least seven countries phasing out coal: Portugal (2021), France (2022), UK (2024), Hungary, Italy, Ireland and Greece (all 2025). As Europe has seen nine consecutive year-on-year increases in aggregate coal burns, perhaps more switching flexibility and less bans could still be the way forward.

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US Desperate For Coal Miners To Meet Soaring Global Demand, by Tyler Durden

There’s a shortage not just of miners, but of all kinds of workers who do the jobs that aren’t done behind a desk. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Coal supply shortages in Asia and Europe are pushing prices for the dirtiest fossil fuel to record highs and have become a challenge for US suppliers due to a shortage of miners, according to Bloomberg.

For the last three and a half decades, the number of coal mining jobs in the US has collapsed from 180,000 to 42,500 in August. The industry remains 9,500 miners short from pre-COVID times.

With coal prices worldwide screaming to all-time highs ahead of winter as China and Europe scramble for supplies, the US coal industry is failing to find new miners willing to do the dirty work as demand soars.

“That’s making it difficult for mining companies to boost production at a time when the global energy crisis is making utilities desperate for every lump of coal they can dig up. Even with coal prices surging around the world, the labor shortages are another sign that it’s going to be tough to shore up energy stockpiles,” Bloomberg said. 

Erin Higginson of Custom Staffing Services, which recruits miners in the Illinois Basin, said miners used to walk into their office for jobs, but now they have to “hold job fairs all over just to find a few miners.”

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BlackRock and Citi Get on Board the Climate Nazi Train, by Chris MacIntosh

China occasionally talks a good “green” game, but it keeps on building coal-fired power plants. From Chris MacIntosh at internationalman.com:

There are some things that bring joy to my soul. My pleasures are simple ones. Peanut butter on toast (the food of gods), witnessing Macron getting a slap, and this…

The awesome thing here is that what is taking place is that our competition on bidding for coal assets has disappeared in a cloud of woke smoke.

This will quickly become geopolitical, and the question is this: can BlackRock, Citi, Prudential, HSBC, and their other woke mates decide the fate of nations?

They are already affecting the fate of nations. Witness Canada and all of Western Europe.

I found a live shot of their respective energy policies:

But will they do the same to China? Will they do the same to Russia?

The answer to that will only be fully revealed in the due course of time, but we don’t really need any crystal balls here as we just watch actions, not words.

“China put 38.4 gigawatts (GW) of new coal-fired power capacity into operation in 2020, according to new international research, more than three times the amount built elsewhere around the world and potentially undermining its short-term climate goals.”

Nearly all of the 60 new coal plants planned across Eurasia, South America and Africa — 70 gigawatts of coal power in all — are financed almost exclusively by Chinese banks”

We see all of this on the ground, and while it is taking place, formerly reputable media outlets such as the FT, Reuters, and Bloomberg tell us that: “China’s belt and road initiative creates a problem for China with respect to their climate goals.”

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Forget About Peak Oil – We Haven’t Even Reached Peak Coal Yet, by David Blackman

While the US government tries to tether its people and businesses to unreliable renewable energy, most of the rest of the world’s use of coal and oil continues to grow. From David Blackman at forbes.com:

Despite all the heavy dissemination of narratives and talking points about a “climate emergency” and the “energy transition” during 2021, the ongoing economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic proves that the world still heavily relies on fossil fuels to provide its constantly growing energy needs. Indeed, as the demand theory try in vain to revive their own always-wrong narrative, it now appears that the world has yet to even meet the peak of demand for the least environmentally friendly fuel of all, coal.

This is especially true in China, India and much of Asia, where thousands of coal-fired power plants have seen record usage levels in the face of a major heat wave this summer. Bloomberg week that China’s enormous demand for coal this summer has caused commodity prices to spike to the highest level seen in 2 months, briefly climbing above 900 yuan/ton (roughly $139.31 at current exchange rates) on Friday.

The global futures price for coal set a new record high in May as supplies ran low. Australian coal – China’s main international supplier – hit $150 per ton in July, the highest level seen since 2008. The demand is so high in China that it has even led to implementation of electricity rationing in some parts of the country as supplies run short.

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In the Developing World, Coal Is Still the King, by Duggan Flanakan

Developing countries can’t afford developed world elites’ energy pieties. From Duggan Flanakan at lewrockwell.com:

The Western view of the world is centered around themselves. [Believing] the rose-tinted views [expressed by Western elites] that ‘the West would like India to succeed’ is plain naiveté.”

Krishnamurthy Subramanian, Chief Economic Advisor, Government of India

For decades, Western bankers, beholden to United Nations “sustainable development” goals, have held virtual veto power over African development and have impeded infrastructure construction in other cash-poor developing nations. No longer.

To the consternation of central planners (and highly paid environmentalists) the UN’s veto power has recently been significantly compromised. China, India, and even African and other Asian nations are building coal-fired power plants and developing coal resources much faster than the U.S. can shut its own plants down. The great master plan to save the planet via a worldwide ban on fossil fuels is being systematically undermined by the hungry.

According to Indian journalist and engineer Sudhanva Shetty, “coal is likely to remain king” in India till 2030 – and beyond. The reason: coal caters to more than half of India’s domestic energy needs. State-owned Coal India on March 10 announced plans for expansion of 24 existing coal mining operations and up to eight new “greenfield” coal mines.

Coal continues to account for about 56 percent of India’s total primary energy consumption. Despite 2020 demand being slowed by the COVID pandemic, coal use in India is expected to increase by 3.8 percent in 2021.

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Europe Can’t Afford a New “Green Deal”, by Andrew Moran

Europe wants to take on the competitive rigors of the global economy with both hands tied behind its back…in the name of its own Green Deal. From Andrew Moran at mises.org:

Today’s brand of the left-leaning politician is all about substituting what sounds good for what actually works. Modern politics, whether in the US or Europe, is about taking a chainsaw to everything that produced even a modicum of success to appease the deities espousing progressive orthodoxy. There is no better example of this than fossil fuels, an energy source that has lifted us out of destitution and darkness, and given us incredible wealth that the world had never witnessed. What is the Left interested in doing? Using confiscation, cronyism, centralization, and coercion to combat climate change. The European Union will achieve these objectives through the boondoggle-in the-making Green Deal (GD).

What is the Green Deal?

The European counterpart is a bit more realistic than the American version, aiming for net-zero emissions within thirty years rather than in a decade. But that is probably the best thing you can say about the proposal, which was approved by the European Parliament—though some policymakers had requested even greater ambitions to be inserted into the climate change scheme. Overall, the Green Deal is bad economics that will affect the already dreary conditions of Europe and exacerbate the slowdown.

The Green Deal begins with the European Commission examining every European Union law and regulation and then modifying it to align with the bloc’s new climate objectives. If you thought the EU’s regulations were already egregious, just you wait until March 2021, when the bureaucrats will submit a package containing all the statist goodies. At least Great Britain will not have to.

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The Unexpected Consequences Of Germany’s Anti-Nuclear Push, by Irina Slav

How about that, there are no free lunches in energy production. From Irina Slav at oilprice.com:

Nuclear plant Germany

Germany, the poster child for renewable energy, sourcing close to half of its electricity from renewable sources, plans to close all of its nuclear power plants by 2022. Its coal-fired plants, meanwhile, will be operating until 2038. According to a study from the U.S. non-profit National Bureau of Economic Research, Germany is paying dearly for this nuclear phase-out–with human lives.

The study looked at electricity generation data between 2011 and 2017 to assess the costs and benefits of the nuclear phase-out, which was triggered by the Fukushima disaster in 2011 and which to this day enjoys the support of all parliamentary powers in Europe’s largest economy. It just so happens that some costs may be higher than anticipated.

The shutting down of nuclear plants naturally requires the replacement of this capacity with something else. Despite its reputation as a leader in solar and wind, Germany has had to resort to more natural gas-powered generation and, quite importantly, more coal generation. As of mid-2019, coal accounted for almost 30 percent of Germany’s energy mix, with nuclear at 13.1 percent and gas at 9.3 percent.

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“That’s Something China Can’t Tolerate”: Tensions Erupt As China Slams Australia’s “Irresponsible Comments”, by Tyler Durden

Many nations commercial relationships with China are so extensive that China can throw its weight around. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

It all started in late February when we reported that a political row had erupted between China and Australia, with Beijing cracking down on imports of coal from Australia, cutting off the country’s miners from their biggest export market and threatening the island nation’s economy at a time when it and its fellow “Five Eyes” members who have sided with the US by blocking or banning Huawei’s 5G network technology.

In the weeks that followed, while Beijing disputed such a draconian export crackdown, China was overtly targeting Australian coal imports with increased restrictions – what Beijing claims were quality checks – that delayed their passage through northern ports. Given Australia has the highest level of income dependency on China of any developed nation as 30.6% of all Australian export income came from China last year, equivalent to US$87 billion (twice the trade volume with Japan, Australia’s next biggest trading partner), and Australia’s coal industry is deeply dependent on its exports to China, which account for 3.7% of Australia’s GDP, this prompted much speculation that Beijing is punishing coal companies as retribution for political acts by Canberra, one of Washington’s closest allies. “The last time Australia was so dependent on one country for its income was in the 1950s when it was a client state of Britain,” Sydney Morning Herald’s international editor, Peter Hartcher Hartcher said in March, according to the SCMP.

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Will Paris Riots Scuttle Climate Accord? by Patrick J. Buchanan

Environmentalism is great until somebody has to pay for it. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

In Katowice, Poland, all the signers of the 2015 Paris climate accord are gathered to assess how the world’s nations are meeting their goals to cut carbon emissions.

Certainly, the communications strategy in the run-up was impressive.

In October came that apocalyptic U.N. report warning that the world is warming faster than we thought and the disasters coming sooner than we thought.

What disasters? More and worse hurricanes, uncontrollable fires, floods, the erosion of coastlines, typhoons, drought, tsunamis, the sinking of islands into the sea.

In November, a scientific report issued by 13 U.S. agencies warned that if greater measures are not taken to reduce global warming, the damage could knock 10 percent off the size of the U.S. economy by century’s end.

At the G-20 meeting in Buenos Aires, 19 of the attending nations recommitted to the Paris accord. Only President Trump’s America did not.

Yet, though confidence may abound in Katowice that the world will meet the goals set down in Paris in 2015, the global environmentalists seem to be losing momentum and losing ground.

Consider what happened this weekend in France.

Saturday, rage over a fuel tax President Emmanuel Macron has proposed to cut carbon emissions brought mobs into the heart of Paris, where they battled police, burned cars, looted, smashed show windows of elite stores such as Dior and Chanel, and desecrated the Arc de Triomphe.

In solidarity with the Paris rioters, protests in other French cities erupted.

Virulently anti-elite, the protesters say they cannot make ends meet with the present burdens on the working and middle class.

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This Chart Shows the Collapse of “King Coal” by State, and Why Miners Are Going Bankrupt, by Wolf Richter

A good analysis of the factors behind the demise of the US coal industry. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

Technological innovation did it.

For decades, coal was the dominant fuel for power generation in the US. But now coal mining companies are being pushed into bankruptcy. Two weeks ago, it was the world’s largest privately held coal miner, Peabody Energy, that made the trip. They’re hounded by a slew of problems. Two of those problems are based on technological innovation.

Coal’s direct competitor in the power sector, natural gas, suffered a total price collapse starting in 2008, from which it has still not recovered. A surge of production from improved fracking technologies created a natural gas glut that has still not abated. Even today, inventories are at record levels.

It comes on top of a technical innovation in the power generation industry: the Combined-Cycle Gas Turbines (CCGT). The gas turbine operates like a jet engine but drives a generator instead of fan blades. The super-hot exhaust gases are then used to generate high-pressure steam to drive a steam turbine connected to another generator. Efficiencies of these sets reach 62% and beyond.

Coal-fired power plants only use steam turbines with efficiencies that average globally 33%. In other words, 67% of the energy in coal is wasted.

That combination — a highly efficient power generator and a price of natural gas that is so low that it is driving natural gas drillers into bankruptcy — has completely changed the dynamics of the power generation sector.

The decline of coal as a fuel in the power mix started in the early 1990s when the CCGT technology took off and started replacing coal-fired generators – the oldest, least efficient plants first – even when the price of gas was higher than today.

This chart from the EIA shows the collapse of coal use (black line) for electricity generation from about 58% of the mix in the late 1980s to just over 30% of the mix now. Gas fired generation (brown line) has grown from around 10% of the mix in the late 1980s to over 30% now. This year, it’s expected to exceed coal for the first time ever. Note the rise of wind and solar power (green line), benefiting from falling costs, federal tax credits, state-level mandates, and technology improvements:

The absolute quantity of coal used for power generation in the US peaked in 2007 at 1,045 million short tons (MMst), according to the EIA. With electricity production growing very little and even declining in some years since, and with coal losing market share, coal consumption by power generators took a huge hit: by 2015, it had plunged 29% to 739 MMst.

To continue reading: This Chart Shows the Collapse of “King Coal” by State, and Why Miners Are Going Bankrupt