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PostPosted: December 4th, 2012, 9:42 am 
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Governments at times seem powerless to stop the trend, at the same time multinational corporations in the coal industry profit from coal sales to developing nations without regard to climate change. With the east coast still recovering from superstorm Sandy, this seems like a timely question.

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The big climate question: Will the world build 1,200 new coal plants?

Posted by Brad Plumer on November 20, 2012 at 9:09 am

Climate scientists have sometimes warned that it could prove impossible to avoid high levels of global warming unless the world stops building new coal-fired plants. But that’s not a simple proposition. Across the globe, there are at least 1,199 coal plants now on the drawing board, according to a new report from the World Resources Institute.

Many of these proposed new plants are in China and India, which account for 76 percent of proposed capacity. Turkey and Russia also have big plans. And a growing number of coal plants are being proposed for developing countries such as Cambodia, Guatemala and Uzbekistan, nations that are looking to cut-rate sources of energy to fuel economic growth.

It’s still unclear how many of these proposed plants will actually get built. In the United States, for instance, plans for 36 new coal plants are now looking unlikely, thanks to new pollution rules and the availability of cheap natural gas. But in Europe and Japan, once-moribund coal plant proposals are being revived after nuclear reactors were shut down in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

“We wanted to identify all proposed plants rather than try to assess the likelihood that they’ll get built,” says Ailun Yang, a co-author of the report. That’s because proposed coal plants that appear dead can often come back to life again later. Whether or not these plants get built will largely depend on the policy choices that governments make, as well as market forces such as the availability of natural gas.

And those policy choices could have major implications for future global warming. Coal burning already accounts for about 44 percent of the world’s energy-related carbon emissions. If even just a quarter of these 1,199 proposed plants were built, that would be the same thing as doubling the coal capacity of the United States. A massive coal expansion would make it increasingly difficult to slow the pace of climate change.

...




http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/won ... get-built/

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PostPosted: December 4th, 2012, 6:00 pm 
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We're doomed. Humans, especially politicians, are generally motivated by short-term interests. Corporations run the world, and do so with a seemingly mechanical indifference to future global consequences. That's not to say that I'm throwing in the towel - I'm constantly writing to MP's and the like; donating to various environmental groups. However, those at the helm are, in most cases, simply burying their heads in the sand, and the voters, convinced that economic growth should continue indefinitely, are not punishing their politicians for inaction on climate change. By the time governments take the necessary bold steps toward reducing carbon emissions, it will likely be too late.

My apologies for the downer post.

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PostPosted: December 4th, 2012, 9:45 pm 
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Mike, I don't see that as a downer post, moreso realistic. They just don't care and are unwilling to make the changes necessary. Also, is the general public wishing to foot their part of the bill, or, can we even afford to?


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PostPosted: December 5th, 2012, 10:19 am 
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I don't see it being a downer either... some badly-needed reality in a world addicted to fantasy.

Give 'em hell...

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I never gave anybody hell!
I just told the truth and they thought it was hell.

Harry S. Truman


I don't know if we're doomed and the world is going to hell... there's going to be more uncertainty with storms, droughts, floods, crop failures, etc, and the entire thing is too complex to make any certain predictions on. I think I need a drink or three to straighten things out... BRB, if I can still walk.


PS.... J/K

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PostPosted: December 6th, 2012, 10:32 am 
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There's no planned expansion in coal use.

Most of the coal plants in the US (and globally as it turns out) are nearing retirement. Yes, new construction will replace some of these older plants, many will be phased out (replaced with alternatives), and some developing countries will be turning to coal. EIA just put out it's 2013 energy outlook, and coal consumption is projected to decline from 42 to 35% on a global basis from 2011 to 2040. This may seem small, but it's not. Renewables are only expanding from 13 - 16% for same period (non-hydro renewables are doubling for period). Everything looks small on a global basis.

http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/er/pdf/0383er(2013).pdf

Germany is a good example. Many see the construction of new coal plants in Germany as a failure of Energiewende (or Germany's green energy shift and targets). What this actually means is a 14% reduction in carbon emissions, and some of it is being paid for by climate dollars. Older and less efficient plants are being retired and replaced with newer and more efficient plants. Global thermal efficiency of coal plants is currently at 30%. Germany is already a leader at 38%.

http://www.eon.com/en/business-areas/po ... rison.html

The new BoA plant near Cologne has 43% efficiency, and is a fully flexible plant (that retains it's overall thermal efficiency). It can raise and lower its output by 500 MW per unit within 15 minutes. This means you don't have to burn coal when you don't need it (just because it's there), and you consume less coal for greater output (resulting in better integration of alternatives, and greater security to non-renewable fuel resources). And Germany is also holding electricity consumption in check with widespread and deep conservation and efficiency efforts.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-1 ... nergy.html

This doesn't mean people won't hem and haw every time a new coal plant is built. This is normal (and a positive trend), there's solid scientific evidence behind it, and it brings greater attention to coal, climate and environmental concerns, and adequate and informed resource planning, cost considerations, and greater resource security and long term certainty to global development efforts. It's pretty clear where market trends are turning, and what is informing this shift. As EIA describes: coal use declines in global mix due to cost-competitiveness of alternatives, greater development of renewables (that are not dependent on non-renewable scarce resources), and new rules on carbon emissions. "Retirements far outpace new additions," and these developments are most certainly likely to continue (consumers want them, public interest is high, and shifts are rational and remain competitive in evolving energy markets). These are all positive trends to my mind, but yes, they don't appear to be happening fast enough. And yes, many locations appear to be falling behind (or are heavily influenced by non-rational factors, such as special interests).


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PostPosted: December 6th, 2012, 10:32 pm 
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canoeguitar wrote:
We're doomed.
My apologies for the downer post.


Not to make it too much of a downward spiral, but we don't have to look too far in nature to see what happens when a species over populates and destroy their environment.

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PostPosted: December 7th, 2012, 9:25 am 
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Idylwyld, world production of coal in millions of tonnes, shows an uptrend every year from 2003-2011. Some of this will be metallurgical coal used for steel production... gotta run.

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World Total

5,301.3
5,716.0
6,035.3
6,342.0
6,573.3
6,795.0
6,880.8
7,254.6
7,695.4



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal#cite_ ... iew2011-84

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PostPosted: December 7th, 2012, 12:30 pm 
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frozentripper wrote:
Idylwyld, world production of coal in millions of tonnes, shows an uptrend every year from 2003-2011. Some of this will be metallurgical coal used for steel production... gotta run.

Indeed, the global growth in energy consumption as a whole is a problem (and we don't seem to be able to hold it in check). But when it comes to a specific fuel resource, coal, we seem to be doing a pretty good job finding cost effective, reliable, sustainable, quick to build (if you don't include nuclear), easy to finance (if you don't include nuclear), and better for the environment alternatives. And we have lots of new opportunities (advanced research, changing market structures, and declining cost curves) for building on these gains in the near and long term. And we can always do a great deal more (and learn from what is working today with respect to cost effective investments, national policies, international treaties, public education, market design, subsidy structure, and the like).

Given your statistics ... why do you see this primarily as a "coal" problem (and discount gains we have made, in a relatively short period, towards fuel shifting on a global basis), and not primarily as a demand growth or "consumption" problem?


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PostPosted: December 9th, 2012, 9:43 am 
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Quote:
...why do you see this primarily as a "coal" problem (and discount gains we have made, in a relatively short period, towards fuel shifting on a global basis), and not primarily as a demand growth or "consumption" problem?



The problem with coal is that it is cheap relative to other, cleaner options... if there were heavy carbon taxes placed on coal use, then a shift to cleaner energy could be expected sooner. But as the OP suggests, the developing nations, China, India and the rest need to ramp growth up as quickly and cheaply as possible, and coal is the easiest option there, given it's availability.

The Wiki numbers I've given above on increasing world coal use do show an uptrend with no signs of reversing so far. Predictions on more coal power plants are only predictions, still, not encouraging news. The news from China shows government stating renewed support for urban development and growth, and the outlook for coal producers' sales there is favorable.

Here in Canada, there are carbon tax laws in place to protect the environment against coal use, but the law is exempted for coal that will be used elsewhere and those coal sales remain untaxed. I'm not sure of the laws in America and Australia, two of the biggest coal exporters to developing nations but I suspect there are no carbon tax laws there either, which makes for attractive opportunities to do business, an easy option to choose coal.

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PostPosted: December 9th, 2012, 10:20 pm 
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frozentripper wrote:
The problem with coal is that it is cheap relative to other, cleaner options.

Any thoughts on the following?

Image

And more here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/ ... story.html

Quote:
Although it’s commonly said that the United States is the Saudi Arabia of coal with more than 200 years worth of reserves, digging up those coal reserves and delivering them to customers has been getting more expensive.

That’s because of rising costs of transportation, explosives, wages — and geology. In most areas, companies first dig coal from areas that are easiest to access and that have the thickest, richest seams. Over time, however, it becomes more expensive to mine — and more difficult to do so profitably ...

... some of the higher costs of mining have nothing to do with regulations, many analysts say.

“The issues aren’t mine inspectors and environmentalists. It’s a geological fact of life in central Appalachia,” said Tom Sanzillo, a former senior official in the New York State comptroller’s office and now a financial consultant. “You mine for 100 years and you take a lot of coal. It’s the cost of production. That’s the reality of it.”

Seems like it's written in the cards, if you ask me. And several technologies, if you look at costs for new construction in 2017, already beat coal (and deliver greater gains in environmental benefits, sustainability, energy independence, lower risks, quick to finance and build, etc.).

http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/pdf/el ... ration.pdf

Energy markets are changing. I think we're going to all have to start getting used to it :)


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PostPosted: December 10th, 2012, 9:43 am 
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Sure coal prices have risen but so have the prices of other commodities. For developing nations, coal is still the cheapest source of energy available, except maybe hydro. The problem with hydro power is that often water resources are lacking so coal is the cheapest option.

The energy markets are changing and the world could be a better place without the dirty polluting use of coal, the prospects are bright but coal use still persists as a dominant source of the world's energy. We're locked in with those big dirty brutes in the coal industry, and the governments that support them.

Like the guy says in prison sex...
just try to enjoy it.

:)

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