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JimD

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Coal
« on: May 30, 2013, 06:14:03 PM »
It ain't dead and it ain't dying.

EIA projects world coal output to rise by 40% over its most recent forecast period (2011-2035), but only by 11% over the next 10 years

www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43011.pdf

U.S. Coal Consumption
EIA expects total coal consumption will increase by 7.3 percent from 890 MMst in 2012 to 955 MMst in 2013 as consumption in the electric power sector rises due to higher electricity demand and higher natural gas prices. Consumption grows at a more modest pace of 2.2 percent to 976 MMst in 2014.

http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/steo/report/coal.cfm

Global coal production 2011 was 7876 million tonnes.  EIA projections to 2023 indicate approx. 8450 million tonnes production.

Industry argues and politicians seems to accept the argument that economic benefits of coal use outweigh the impacts of 'potential' climate change.  Insane, I know.  But I think this info helps bring home the scale of impact that must be needed to shift the argument at the political/economic levels to the point where we start projecting a permanent decline in coal production.  I just don't see where we are even near a tipping point in that argument.


We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Bob Wallace

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Re: Coal
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2013, 07:57:37 PM »
I think one should be a bit cautious about accepting the EIA's predictions.  They make very conservative estimates based on 'business as usual' continuing.  They missed the upward movement in solar installations when it was clear to others that rapidly falling panel prices would greatly change things.  I think they don't like to upset the oil and coal industries.

Giles Parkinson at REneweconomy has an interesting piece about what is happening in the Australian coal industry.  (Australians have installed a lot of roof-top solar because of high grid prices.)  I'll copy over the first paragraphs...

It seems certain that the NSW and Queensland governments will have to take significant write-downs on the value of the fleet of coal-fired power generators, and the assets may not be able to be sold because of the radical reshaping of the Australian electricity market.

The NSW government is seeking buyers for its coal-fired generators, and a price of $3 billion, and the Queensland government is mulling over recommendations that they should do the same. Any sale of those assets would likely be held in 2015/16.

But are they worth anything? Industry insiders say there are unlikely to be any buyers at the price the governments are expecting- because black coal-fired generation is becoming increasingly sidelined by the unanticipated fall in demand, the impact of renewables such as rooftop solar and wind farms, and the effects of the carbon price. Many of the black coal-fired generators are operating at barely more than half their capacity, as the concept of baseload generation gradually recedes.


And this bit from later down...

And the growth of renewables has not just reduced demand in the case of rooftop solar, it is changing the nature of the markets, requiring more flexible generation capacity to respond to changes in output and demand. Black coal fired generators are poorly equipped to meet this requirement, and to falling prices, so some 3000MW of capacity in Australia has been closed in the last 18 months, some of it permanently.

Australia is not unique in this case, because it is a well documented impact in Germany, where power producers have decided not to invest in any new baseload generation beyond the ones that have already commenced production. In the US there is a similar story, with base load generators, including nuclear ones, pushing back on renewable energy targets for fear it will undermine their own business case.


And this very important bit from the middle...

Baseload generators are often described as low cost, but they rely on midday peaks which can push the prices as high as $10,000/MWh to boost their profits. Around one quarter of generator revenues are sourced from 40 hours of such peaks a year.


http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/shift-from-base-load-slashes-value-of-state-coal-generators-92669

Yes, increasing gas prices might drive up coal use a little in the US.  For a little while.  But as more renewables come on line it becomes harder and harder to keep coal plants (and nuclear plants) out of bankruptcy. 

If a significant portion of revenues are coming from about 40 hours each year then 'baseload' plants are in very deep trouble.  Those 40 hours?  Hot sunny afternoons.  Put more solar on the grid and those 40 hours go away.  As do a lot of other sunny hours when coal and nuclear now get the money to pay their bills.

Gas might be expensive, but gas plants are relatively cheap to build.  That means that it doesn't kill a business to leave them sitting idle when they can't sell product at or above cost.  Coal (and nuclear) have to sell at a loss at times since they are not dispatchable.  If the high return hours go away then they can't cover their losses.

I don't think the EIA ever engages in this sort of analysis.

JimD

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Re: Coal
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2013, 06:45:24 PM »
Bob,

Reporting what someone projects is not accepting their numbers.  I would think that you would be aware of that.  But maybe not.

I am all for the build out of solar, but you need to spend some time in your analysis on the time required for the build out and the resources required.  It is going to take a long time and a lot of money for that as well.  Typical numbers for such an industry rollover are 20+ years. 

There is not much doubt about the continuing and probably growing (for a few years at least) heavy use of coal.  To suggest otherwise is to ignore the evidence.  Turning that ship around is going to take a lot of time, effort and probably some kind of catastrophe.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Bob Wallace

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Re: Coal
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2013, 07:17:26 PM »
You might read the piece I linked.  It talks about the Australian coal industry and how coal plants are going offline.

If by " Typical numbers for such an industry rollover are 20+ years" you mean it would take 20+ years to convert our grids to 100% renewable, I agree. 

I'd make it more like 15 to 50, depending on our level of concern about climate change.  Jacobson and Delucchi laid out a 20 year blueprint in 2009.  Since then we've installed some renewables and we've improved the solar panels/turbines/etc. that they used in their calculations.  And our manufacturing abilities have improved.  We could probably do the job in 15 years given adequate fear.

But remember, we don't need to get to 100% renewables in order to slow our rush to an unlivable planet.  Slow warming first, stop it later.  That's how it has to be played out.

If we can get coal off our grids by using a combination of renewables and natural gas we can make a heavy impact on our CO2 output.  In the US coal provides 35% of our electricity.   Coal-fired power plants currently fuel 41% of global electricity.

 

JimD

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Re: Coal
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2013, 05:29:24 PM »
I read your piece before I ever posted.  It does not change the global situation.  Coal use by country fluctuates for various reasons.  Having consumption go down in one area can facilitate consumption rising elsewhere.

The point of the post is to show the trajectory of coal consumption/production.  It is still up significantly.  And it is going to be quite some time before it stops rising and much longer before coal consumption ceases to be a contributor to rising CO2 levels.

Your comment about being able to convert to solar in 15 years given sufficient fear factor is getting to the point of my posts.  There will not be a global effort to counter rising CO2 levels until that global fear manifests itself.  We are far from that state and until it occurs numbers about how long it would take to convert have no meaning.  Because we won't be doing the mass conversion.  Converting at the rates we are now won't take 15 years it will take 50 years.   

But the fundamental problem in discussions taken the direction you seem to prefer is that the solutions proposed assume some version of BAU will be able to be maintained and this is a fundamental part of the carrot held out enticing people to provide support for your preferred solution.  But it won't work.  There is no version of BAU that is going to work in the face of Climate Change effects, Peak Oil/Energy effects and a population that will be approaching 9 billion 50 years from now.  Baring a technological miracle you just can't get there from here.

Given the realities of politics and human nature, the global drive for economic growth, the fact that other countries (like India and China) are not going to make serious efforts until the US caves on maintaining its extreme lifestyle (and it won't), etc., I think it a pretty fair statement that we are a long way from capitulation and the rise of that panic required to get global change going.  My opinion is that real panic which results in the kind of change you require is probably a generation out still. And, by the time it happens, you will not have the resources required any longer nor the time to execute.  And I doubt that when that panic arrives it will take the direction you prefer.  It is liable to be oriented towards destruction vice construction.

While there are a number of bright people who have figured out the scope of the problem and are trying to effect some kind of solution (and I salute them for their efforts) they, just like the people in charge of and running the system, are wedded to BAU.  The fact that population is the elephant in the room which prevents a BAU solution they cannot come to grips with.  The instinctual reaction in a situation like ours is for those who have the most power and resources to maintain them at all costs for as long as possible  in the hopes that their competitors for the same cannot keep up.  They will have great incentive to help them not keep up.  This is the way of all things past and present.  To expect otherwise of humans is to ask them to become another species.  How likely is that.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Bob Wallace

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Re: Coal
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2013, 07:12:36 PM »
Coal use is dropping in China, Australia, Germany and the US.  Where is the use of coal increasing at a rate that wipes out those decreases?

(I'm talking about longer term trends.  China will cap in two years at its burn rate of two years ago.  I'm not interested in short term variability.)

TerryM

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Re: Coal
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2013, 10:02:34 PM »
As I understand it coal production is increasing more rapidly than any other FF.


http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/coal-the-rising-star-of-global-energy-production/article4352279/


Exporting rather than burning locally does little to help.


The growing supply of coke from Tar Sands refining is also liable to create problems in the very near term. I believe they're planning to sell it out of country to any place that hasn't outlawed burning it as of yet.


Terry

Bob Wallace

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Re: Coal
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2013, 11:37:14 PM »
Terry, I couldn't read that link.  As soon as I saw they were using Robert Bryce of the Manhattan Institute as an information source I had to leave.

Let's just look at some facts.

The US has about 100 existing coal plants (out of ~450) scheduled to close and that number may rise to 200.  Can't burn coal in plants that don't exist.

China will cap coal use at 2011 levels in 2015.

From an Australian site -

Pick up a recent report from any mainstream energy analyst – local and international – and it’s pretty clear what’s going on here: thermal coal prices have slumped because demand is falling. This, in turn, is causing coal mines to lose money, and the economic case for massive new investments in new coal mines and infrastructure – largely based on a widely discredited “business as usual” scenario – is disappearing rapidly.

What’s behind all this? Well, the biggest drive is the actions of the world’s biggest coal consumer – China. Its major ports are currently overstocked with imports that are not required because of a fall in demand, which in turn has caused the closure of half of its mines in some regions. The country itself has announced a cap on coal consumption of 4 billion tonnes (just over half of what Australian coal miners had assumed they would consume) and has reinforced this by flagging the introduction of emissions caps by 2016.


http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/is-the-coal-industry-gaining-a-sense-of-its-own-mortality-72756

It seems certain that the NSW and Queensland governments will have to take significant write-downs on the value of the fleet of coal-fired power generators, and the assets may not be able to be sold because of the radical reshaping of the Australian electricity market.

The NSW government is seeking buyers for its coal-fired generators, and a price of $3 billion, and the Queensland government is mulling over recommendations that they should do the same. Any sale of those assets would likely be held in 2015/16.

But are they worth anything? Industry insiders say there are unlikely to be any buyers at the price the governments are expecting- because black coal-fired generation is becoming increasingly sidelined by the unanticipated fall in demand, the impact of renewables such as rooftop solar and wind farms, and the effects of the carbon price. Many of the black coal-fired generators are operating at barely more than half their capacity, as the concept of baseload generation gradually recedes.


http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/shift-from-base-load-slashes-value-of-state-coal-generators-92669

Europe isn't going to use more coal.  Europe has committed itself to drastic CO2 cuts.  Japan isn't going to be importing lots of coal, they are installing solar, wind and geothermal.

Where is this increased production going to get used? 

Bob Wallace

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Re: Coal
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2013, 01:59:52 AM »
Annual coal use in billions short tons (2,000 pounds)

#1 China: 1,310,000,000
#2 United States: 1,060,000,000    
#3 India: 339,000,000    
#4 Russia: 298,000,000    
#5 Germany: 265,000,000    
#6 South Africa: 170,500,000    
#7 Japan: 149,500,000    
#8 Australia: 144,170,000    
#9 Korea, North: 103,600,000    
#10 Ukraine: 97,200,000    

That's a total of 4,018,070,000 b tons out of a total world wide use of 4,558,273,000 b tons or 88% of total world coal use.

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/ene_coa_con-energy-coal-consumption

A number of the countries on the list are on record to use less coal going forward (aside from short term variability.)

Right now India is expected to increase the use of coal but at the same time there is rising pressure within the country to cut CO2 output and the rate of solar and wind installations are rising.

South Africa is one of the ten charter members of the Renewable Club.  I suspect it takes them in a non-coal direction.   

Russia, North Korea and the Ukraine - who knows?  They currently use about 11% of the world's total.  It's unlikely they would take up the slack created by countries cutting their use.

mati

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Re: Coal
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2013, 03:29:01 AM »
China is moving agressively into nuclear power for electrical generation, as well as adding solar and wind to the mix... 

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-A-F/China--Nuclear-Power/

and so it goes

Bob Wallace

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Re: Coal
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2013, 06:47:27 AM »
I just ran across something from last October that I found interesting...

Traditional wisdom has been that China is building massive numbers of new coal-fired plants, and that such development would continue forever. However, two new indicators seem to be telling a different story.

The first and arguably most important indicator is the weak economic performance of China’s coal power sector, which accounts for more than half of China’s coal consumption. China’s State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) reportedthat almost all coal-fired plants have been losing money since last year. Investment in coal-fired plants in 2011 was not even half of what was invested in 2005. About one-third of the proposed new coal–fired plants that have been approved are delaying the start of their construction, resulting in a big slowdown in newly added coal power capacity. In fact, based on the number of coal-fired plants completed this year so far, newly installed capacity is likely to be only half of what was installed last year.

This dramatic decrease in new coal development is mainly a result of China’s economic slow-down and weaker demands for new energy. It is also a result of the long-standing electricity sales price freeze imposed by the Chinese government on the power sector.

Another important trend not to be overlooked is the rising public concern over coal’s environmental and health impacts. In response to unprecedented deterioration of the environment, public awareness of environmental problems is rising rapidly. The number and scale of local social unrest incidents against pollution are mounting across the country, many of which are related to coal-fired plants. Some of these incidents have gotten international attention. In December 2011, for example, nearly 30,000 local residents protested against the expansion of a coal-fired power plant in Haimen, Guangdong Province. The project was quickly suspended after the protest turned violent.



http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-16/what-is-the-future-of-king-coal-in-china-.html

Bob Wallace

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Re: Coal
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2013, 07:35:11 AM »
The world’s largest coal mining company – Coal India – is looking to innovative solution to reduce its own energy bills: it’s installing solar energy.

The company, which is listed but government controlled, and which accounts for more than 80 per cent of coal production in India, is installing a 2MW plant at its Sampalbur coal plant in Odisha. It plans to install solar at its operations across the country, including at its mining research arm, the Central Mine Planning and Design Institut.

Officials told local media DNA that the installation of solar PV at mines and staff housing areas is aimed at reducing Coal India’s own energy bills.

But the most striking aspect of the decision is the company’s own recognition that fossil fuels are depleting, and that solar is approaching grid parity.

“India has an abundance of sunshine and the trend of depletion of fossil fuels is compelling energy planners to examine the feasibility of using renewable sources of energy like solar, wind, and so on,” Coal India’s bid document said.

Another state-owned coal company, Neyvili Corp, as well as Oil India, are also venturing into the solar market, Neyvili is building a 10MW solar PV plant with an option to upgrade to a 25MW facility.

Across India, around 2.3GW of solar is expected to be installed by 2016, with more expected as distributed solar provides cheaper options that sourcing electricity from the grid.


http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/worlds-biggest-coal-company-turns-to-solar-to-save-energy-costs-31634

JimD

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Re: Coal
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2013, 10:53:37 PM »
Re: reply #8.

A bunch of those figures are completely off.  Not even close. see..

http://www.indexmundi.com/energy.aspx?product=coal

or

http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/steo/report/coal.cfm

Global coal consumption in 2011 was 8.14 (or 7.88 from 2nd source)  billion tons not 4.56 billion tons.

2011 numbers
China 3.83 billion tons not 1.3 billion tons.
India 721 million tons not 339 million tonx
Japan 192 million tons not 149 and much higher in 2012 due to Fukishima

It is much worse than you seem to think.

Time will tell, as always, on what happens.  You have a lot of optimistic assumptions.  Reality tends to deal with those kind of things.  What happens to those projections as Europe grinds through its economic problems.  China is due to slow also.  Coal is cheap and an existing plant might be kept on line past its normal life (lots of those) if times are tough economically.

There are a host of problems related to energy issues/costs, economic performance, climate change, water supplies, growing populations, etc that are going to impact us going forward that will all tend to degrade our capabilities and restrict our options.  Optimism is fine when it is based upon reality and not wishful thinking.  We deal with reality or it deals with us.  No exceptions.  Neither Progressive BAU nor Tea Party BAU is viable.

If we don't tackle population reductions we are not even dealing with the core problem. 
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Bob Wallace

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Re: Coal
« Reply #13 on: June 05, 2013, 11:23:26 PM »
 

Here are the numbers I posted followed by more recent numbers from Mundi, 2011 with the one noted exception.  I find no date on the source I used.  Obviously it is outdated.

Annual coal use in billions short tons (2,000 pounds)
#1 China: 1,310,000,000  3,826,869,000
#2 United States: 1,060,000,000    899,500,000 (2012 EIA)
#3 India: 339,000,000    721,418,000
#4 Russia: 298,000,000    256,690,000
#5 Germany: 265,000,000    256,661,000
#6 South Africa: 170,500,000  201,403,000
#7 Japan: 149,500,000 192,853,000   
#8 Australia: 144,170,000    131,174,000
#9 Korea, North: 103,600,000    31,321,000
#10 Ukraine: 97,200,000   73,401,000

Most countries are burning more now than they were then (whenever it was).  A few are burning less.  But that's not the point.

These are the world's coal burners.  They burn over 80% of the coal burned on the planet.  Several have announced their intention to burn less in the future. 

If one wants to claim that cuts in coal use in the announced countries will cause others to burn more and take up the slack then they should identify where that additional burning might be and why they think it will happen.  Some sort of argument other than hand-waving or invoking Jeavon's Paradox.
--

Again, I am no optimist when it comes to climate change.  I recognize that we are already (almost certainly) being hurt and we will encounter higher levels of hurt before we get our CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions under control.

I am a problem solver by nature.  I am unwilling to stand in a house afire, pull on my hair, and scream that "We're all going to DIE!!!". 

I am someone who looks for an exit and attempts to let other people know if I think I've found one.
--

Now, we're not likely to solve our problem via population control.  In order to get our population levels down to the point at which GHGs aren't a problem we'd have to intentionally kill off about 75% of everyone alive today.

If we're smart we will take reasonable measures to speed the time to peak population which will also mean a lower peak.  Right now peak population is probably about 50 years out.  That's too late.  Twenty years is too late.  We need solutions other than killing billions or waiting for nature to take its course.



TerryM

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Re: Coal
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2013, 07:30:21 AM »
Bob


Optimism is wonderful, when it's warranted, but coal production is increasing, not flattening or decreasing.
The OECD/IEA World Energy Outlook report (2011) makes projections based on a “New Policies Scenario.”54 According to OECD “new policies” projections, global coal output would rise 18% between 2009 and 2020.
- from the World Coal Association
I'm not sure where they assume their product will be used, but I'm not sure that it matters.
Coal is an asset that won't be abandoned unless governments worldwide put a stop to production, sales and possession of it. We've seen how well that's worked with cocaine, opiates and alcohol in various jurisdictions.

Jevon's paradox will apply as industrialized countries switch to renewables and the price drops for FFs. I don't see any way around this while global trade continues. One man's garbage is another mans fuel source as we're learning from the Koch Bro's tar sands residue piling up in Detroit.

When the house is on fire, screaming out may in fact be a very reasonable response, at least until everyone is aware of the situation. Someone assuring the residents that it's only a small fire, and the fire department will be along any minute isn't helping the situation either.  As Jim mentioned BAU is certainly not viable & it's going to take a lot to overcome the inertia keeping it in place. Businesses are going to have to change the way they do business and governments are going to have to change the way they govern for us to have any chance of surviving at more than a tribal level.

I sincerely wish I shared your outlook. I'm assuming that it's more comfortable to believe that somehow this is going to turn out OK, but everything I've learned leads me to to see your 75% die off as wildly optimistic.

Terry

Bob Wallace

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Re: Coal
« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2013, 07:54:12 AM »
Well, Terry.  If we all sit around wringing our hands as some wish to do then something like a 75% die off will be our fate.

Ignoring solutions.  That's the solution.  Yep.

TerryM

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Re: Coal
« Reply #16 on: June 06, 2013, 10:01:27 AM »
Bob


I don't think that what I'm doing is hand wringing. I've been trying to present factual information about Arctic sea ice changes to anyone willing to listen. A happy ending would doubtlessly make the bitter pill go down easier, but I don't have one to offer.


I was told once that I had less than a month left, and though the diagnosis proved wrong I was grateful to be living at a time when doctors were obligated to provide truthful information to their patients. The time I spent with that information wasn't wasted. I contacted old friends, wrote a will & treated myself to a few perks I felt I deserved.
When a month extended to a year I sold my home and moved back to Canada to see the area i grew up in. None of the time was spent in panic or rage and the only regret was that I wouldn't be around for much longer.


I don't think people need to have the truth hidden from them to act rationally. I don't see a solution to our problems, but this doesn't mean that one doesn't exist. If people are told that things are getting better when they aren't, they can't make plans or work towards solutions that might work for them - or for many of us.


Terry

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Re: Coal
« Reply #17 on: June 06, 2013, 03:58:46 PM »
I don't think people need to have the truth hidden from them to act rationally. I don't see a solution to our problems, but this doesn't mean that one doesn't exist. If people are told that things are getting better when they aren't, they can't make plans or work towards solutions that might work for them - or for many of us.

I think knowing the truth is critically important. It is after all a general absence of truth (both in provision by governments, corporations and the media) combined with a general lack of desire to learn the truth (by the general public) that has taken us this far. To continue upon that path is to believe in digging yourself down out of a hole.

Given the severity of the situation today, committed warming in the system, the ongoing loss of albedo (clear and immediate positive feedback), the masking effect of aerosols from industrial pollution - it strikes me as ridiculous to consider that a natural depletion in the rate of coal usage would provide any meaningful hope (even if it were happening). If this were a car wreck, we'd be thinking about easing up on the accelerator at very most at this point (and ongoing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration increase puts the lie to any notion things are "slowing down" anyway).

There are plenty of good psychological reasons why a majority of the population may delude themselves into believing the soft fluffy version of all this. Humans are not adapted to respond appropriately to this sort of threat.

I don't really agree about a lack of solutions for the simple reason that for as long as you are still alive you can likely do something. It may well be that there is now no practical solution to the overall problem - bearing in mind the inability of a majority of the population to become interested or educated combined with the lethal greed of the socioeconomic elites is part of the problem (ie the problem is not just climate change, but also human nature which is even harder to change), but even then one can consider solutions at the personal level and that try to make some provision for people later on. Until (or unless) death comes to one's doorstep one can fight for something at least.

Teaching your grandchildren how to work flint would be something I'd agree wholeheartedly was a good idea. If one is older and has lived a long comfortable life anything else one could do to help them would also seem morally appropriate (even and especially if one is not expecting to make it oneself).

As for coal, I can see no grounds whatsoever for complacency. How long has Hansen been clear on this matter and made very substantial personal efforts to communicate the need to get off coal? I'm pretty sure that a belief in a natural decline in rate of coal use as renewables become more cost effective wasn't what drove him to testify at the trial of the people who shut down the coal station briefly several years ago. I'm also pretty sure nobody arguing against him is likely to be better informed than he is on this matter.

Those coal fired power stations are killing people, pure and simple. So are our combustion engines and our energy choices, and I think more people ought to remember this - as it relates to the individual, not just to "everyone else".

JimD

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Re: Coal
« Reply #18 on: June 06, 2013, 05:39:50 PM »
Bob,

You are the one ignoring the solution.  This seems to be happening because you don't really grasp or are unable to accept the scope of the problem.  So, being a "problem solver" you glom onto your favorite technology and gin up an entire argument designed to convince your readers that everything is going to be all right.  You are out in your yard spraying down the flowers with a hose to save them when a high wind forest fire is going to burn every thing in its path.  Your paradigm needs to change from saving BAU (because you can't seem to cross the threshold to acceptance even though the facts are staring you in the face) to figuring out how we are going to adapt and survive after any kind of BAU is gone.  If you are really a problem solver work on that problem. 

It has been mentioned on this blog many times how foolish the established powers are being by taking a path that strongly promotes, or double downs, on standard capitalist BAU.  As I have mentioned in many posts there are very sound explanations for this approach (this statement does not mean that I agree with the approach just that it makes sense from a human nature perspective and also from a power politics/strategy sense).  But equally foolish (and much harder to explain from a human nature/politics/strategy sense) is the Progressive/liberal BAU approach (a famous proponent of this is Joe Romm) as it has even less chance of working than the standard BAU approach.  And then we have our big supporters for divine intervention, or the miracle approach.  In other words we wait for God to save us via miracle or we wait for our modern religion (the Gods of technical progress) to invent some wis bang solution.  As they say, "J****  C*****!!"  I just wish people would grow up and accept responsibility for what we have done and deal with reality.  All the research and data from the original Limits to Growth thru their latest "2052", to every projection of meaningful trends on climate, energy, agriculture, water supplies, pollution, nuclear issues, population levels, strategic minerals, global carrying capacity, etc, etc leads to the same conclusion.  That conclusion is that, no matter what we do, there is going to be a big drop in population brought on by all  those factors just mentioned NLT circa 2050 (baring that miracle you hope for). 

So the rational man, who at least wants the species to survive, works on the core issue.  Population.  Managing the population crash, or not, determines where the bottom is.  If we manage it we have a much better chance long-term than if we don't.  Just because it is a scary ugly problem does not mean we shouldn't work on it as the number one priority.  If we ignore it and just hope for the best as the cornucopian/dreamer/optimists like to do we are going to get a much worse result.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Coal
« Reply #19 on: June 06, 2013, 05:42:23 PM »
If we do nothing but beat the "Doom! Doom! Doom!" drum we risk driving people into depression and despair.

If we present a more balanced message that we are heading in a very terrible direction  but there are some workable, affordable, painless ways to avoid the hell that resides at the end of our current path we stand a better chance of turning things around.

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Re: Coal
« Reply #20 on: June 06, 2013, 05:48:29 PM »
OK, Jim, if I understand you what is going to happen is that we are not going to cut our CO2 levels but endure a major population crash.

So the rational man, who at least wants the species to survive, works on the core issue.  Population.  Managing the population crash, or not, determines where the bottom is.  If we manage it we have a much better chance long-term than if we don't.  Just because it is a scary ugly problem does not mean we shouldn't work on it as the number one priority.  If we ignore it and just hope for the best as the cornucopian/dreamer/optimists like to do we are going to get a much worse result.

So how do we do this?  Do we build some enclaves to protect an elite breeding stock and pass out cyanide tablets for everyone else so that we can die painlessly?

What's your plan?

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Re: Coal
« Reply #21 on: June 06, 2013, 07:12:54 PM »
OK, Jim, if I understand you what is going to happen is that we are not going to cut our CO2 levels but endure a major population crash.

So the rational man, who at least wants the species to survive, works on the core issue.  Population.  Managing the population crash, or not, determines where the bottom is.  If we manage it we have a much better chance long-term than if we don't.  Just because it is a scary ugly problem does not mean we shouldn't work on it as the number one priority.  If we ignore it and just hope for the best as the cornucopian/dreamer/optimists like to do we are going to get a much worse result.

So how do we do this?  Do we build some enclaves to protect an elite breeding stock and pass out cyanide tablets for everyone else so that we can die painlessly?

What's your plan?
Actually, the establishment of a basic social conscience within societies and between nations would do wonders for population growth and population levels. Due to a combination of the demographic transition and the fact that it's just so damn hard for younger people to get anywhere in life these days mean fertility rates in developed nations are often below replacement levels (particularly excluding migrant communities).

In a world where the rich keep getting richer and the most powerful nations keep leveraging their power for their gain at the expense of everyone else, that simply isn't going to work real well of course. In that sense it isn't just about managing population but it's also about managing anger and injustice.

While Limits to Growth seems to embody a good qualitative understanding of the situation, I personally don't see things holding together until anywhere near 2050. LTG doesn't make precise time predictions and I think that ought to be kept in mind.

Any sort of managed cull of the human population would be unpalatable for the simple reason that the people who would decide who to cull would be the existing socioeconomic elites. Being quite sure by any metric I would fail to meet the criteria regarded as "worthwhile" in the modern day, that would be a direct reason for violence in itself. In any case none of us chose to be born - our parents made that choice for us - and parents are another logical point of intervention on that basis (I'm regarding access to contraception and female choice as part of the demographic transition but perhaps they need identified separately).

I think in the end nature will take it's course with our species.

Where I think part of the solution lies is in contingency planning for such a collapse - trying to put some minimum floor under how far the residual population can fall, and provide some basis for ultimate enlightened recovery from the crash. It would require something essentially miraculous for all the trends to turn around that would need to turn around even for a managed descent.

Hence I think flint knapping is as good a place to start as any. And perhaps a religiously enshrined future diktat that all people who dig up coal or oil should be immediately executed.

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Re: Coal
« Reply #22 on: June 06, 2013, 07:42:40 PM »
Hence I think flint knapping is as good a place to start as any

Excuse me, but that's simply silly.

Let's envision the world after the sort of collapse that you think would make flint knapping a useful skill.  It would be a very depopulated world in which somehow enough game survives to support you few hardy souls who live off the land.  If we go into massive collapse we'll eat the other animals on our way out.  We've got more than enough firearms and ammo to take out even the mice.  One does not need sharp points to collect insects.

But suppose a few people and some deer/whatever do both survive.  That small band of you survivors would be surrounded by massive amounts of steel just waiting to be beaten into spear and arrow points using thousands of miles of railroad track anvils and millions of leftover carpenter hammers.

Plus the technology of gunpowder is not going away. 

The technology we have developed to date will not go away unless there are so few people left that there's not enough people to run simple factories.  A population of only a few million would be adequate to maintain a high tech existence.


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Re: Coal
« Reply #23 on: June 06, 2013, 08:23:43 PM »
Hence I think flint knapping is as good a place to start as any

Excuse me, but that's simply silly.
I've split this into another topic, as I think it doesn't really fit under "coal".

https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,359.0.html

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Re: Coal
« Reply #24 on: June 06, 2013, 10:24:06 PM »
Someone asked for a solution? Stop burning coal (and oil and gas as next steps) and use renewables - the feasibility is allready proven by some countries. But start that transition right now, because it is less easy if you have to do it fast.
It may cost 1k$/person/year - that sounds really cheap when you guys talk about 75% die... why should they die instead of trying a bit harder?

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Re: Coal
« Reply #25 on: June 07, 2013, 06:48:13 AM »
Someone asked for a solution? Stop burning coal (and oil and gas as next steps) and use renewables - the feasibility is allready proven by some countries. But start that transition right now, because it is less easy if you have to do it fast.
It may cost 1k$/person/year - that sounds really cheap when you guys talk about 75% die... why should they die instead of trying a bit harder?

Thank you.

Yes, we need to stop burning coal ASAP.  We have the technology we need right now to get coal off our grids.  And many of the ten countries which burn over 80% of our coal are installing that technology and cutting coal use.

Again, coal use is being capped in China.  The largest user. 

The US is closing 20%, for certain,  and perhaps as much as 40% of its coal burning capacity over the next few years.

Australia has coal plants sitting idle and will have more joining them.

Germany is reducing their coal capacity.

We've started down the right path.  Now the chore is to go faster.

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Re: Coal
« Reply #26 on: June 07, 2013, 03:13:22 PM »
Bob


Coal usage per capita is increasing rapidly - It would be nice if everyone follows up on their promises to use less, but to date consumption is going in the other direction.





Here in Ontario Canada it's been announced that by 2014 we will no longer burn any coal for generating electricity. As long as the Conservatives don't sweep into power after a snap election this promise will probably be kept. Alberta on the other hand is building new coal fired plants.


With the coal producers association projecting 18% growth by 2020 I'd assume that most coal producers can borrow the money needed to remove the mountain tops and expose another coal vein. Once the overburden is gone dishing out the coal is cheap and profitable.


At what point do you expect the producers and the financiers that backed them to decide that this was a bad investment and walk away?


Terry

SATire

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Re: Coal
« Reply #27 on: June 07, 2013, 05:05:11 PM »
Bob - we discussed that allready in the "China is leading"-thead. Germany could try much harder as it does.  Scandinavia showed us allready the way, so it can be done if one has the will. The will is missing in most countries and alibis are used instead. One alibi is asking for the next and discussions are never ending in some regions of the world... So when are we going to find an agreement and to start some effort? Just stop selling coal - that could help, too.

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Re: Coal
« Reply #28 on: June 07, 2013, 08:29:45 PM »
With the coal producers association projecting 18% growth by 2020


Day before yesterday I read the nuclear industry site webpage that tells us that nuclear energy in the US is alive and thriving.  Today I find out that the two reactors at San Onofre are being permanently closed.  That's four US reactors permanently closed in 2013 and the year is only half over.  (There are at least three others that are losing money and might be shut this year.)

My point.  Best not to use industry mouthpieces as primary information sources.

Your graph cuts off before China cuts back consumption to 2011 levels.  It doesn't show the US after 100-200 coal plants have been closed.  It doesn't even show the number of coal plants currently sitting idle in Australia.

It's not the coal producers who will wake up first.  They are blinded by the coal dust of past earnings and capital invested.  Where the important wakening is occurring is in investment banking.  Investment bankers are starting to call coal a bad investment and some large banks are now not willing to make coal-related loans.

The executive who deals with energy in Deutsche Bank stated "Coal is a dead man walking".

Giles has been doing a very interesting series of articles on the coal industry in Australia.  Let me give you a bit of one...

It’s been a bad week for the thermal coal industry.

The commodity’s biggest consumer, China, appears serious about curbing its demand, thermal coal mines are losing money; coal generators are closing down, Queensland has had to introduce a captive buying arrangement to protect its state-owned generation assets, WA’s expensive revamp of an ageing and dirty Muja power station is proving to be a disaster, and the head of Australia’s coal industry has had a scripted meltdown, blaming the industry’s woes almost entirely on “environmental extremists”.


http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/is-the-coal-industry-gaining-a-sense-of-its-own-mortality-72756





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Re: Coal
« Reply #29 on: June 07, 2013, 08:38:11 PM »
Let me give you a bit more on the awakening of coal financing...

What’s going on with coal? The new lows in demand for electricity from coal-fired power plants in Australia have people wondering if this is the carbon price doing its thing. That is what the Labor Party claims, releasing analysis today that shows power generated by coal power plants has fallen 14 per cent since the introduction of the carbon price, while renewable power has soared.

But there’s a lot more at work here than just the carbon price. According to a commodities special report released on Thursday by Deutsche Bank, what’s happening in Australia and in the global coal market is part of a major shift in rational decision making about energy supply and demand.

The report, Thermal Coal: Coal at a Crossroads, says coal markets face a combined threat of steadily growing supply in the largest producing regions and a levelling-off or decline in demand in consuming regions.

“We believe this trend will develop out of emissions control standards, higher renewables output, a structural shift in the Chinese economy, improved transport infrastructure, and stagnating US demand,” the report says. And it points to three of the world’s most important demand centers – China, Europe and the US – as containing “the seeds of a softening in demand growth.”

“As demand disappoints versus producer expectations, rational decision-making will require that major expansion projects be delayed,” Deutsche Bank says. The same kind of rational decision-making that has seen plans for more than 150 new coal-fired power plants cancelled in the US since the mid-2000s – and predictions that upwards of 200 coal-fired generating units will be retired across America in the coming years.



http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/coal-at-a-crossroads-as-rational-thinking-sets-in-37929

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Re: Coal
« Reply #30 on: June 07, 2013, 08:48:01 PM »
Germany could try much harder as it does.  Scandinavia showed us allready the way, so it can be done if one has the will. The will is missing in most countries and alibis are used instead.

Societal change is almost always gradual.  Some of us change before others.

Obviously we, the larger society, lack ample will right now and we should have developed that will a few decades back.  But I see the will growing.

Had we started earlier we could avoided the pain of climate change.  But we didn't. 

Were we working harder now we could keep our future pain to a lower level than what we will endure, because we aren't working as hard as we could.

As pain increases work will increase.  Alibis and excuses will fade away.

Those of us who arrived at "awareness" earlier can do two things to speed the growth of will -
 
1) Inform others why we need to make changes and

2) Teach others what we can do right now to cut fossil fuel use and how cutting fossil fuel use  will neither cost us much money nor damage our lifestyles.

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Re: Coal
« Reply #31 on: June 07, 2013, 10:40:26 PM »
Bob


I can't find a graph showing that coal production has slowed.


The IEA thinks coal "will rival oil by 2017" according to the Financial Times.


From 2010 to 2011 coal increased by 6.37% worldwide. The biggest increase since 2005 when it jumped by 7.99%. There have been no down tics this century.


The charts that I have found show coal outpacing population. The data I've found shows coal increasing as fast as arctic sea ice extent has been decreasing since 1979.


When coal production slumps it will be a cause for celebration, but since 2000 it's increased by 39%.


There has to be a better metric to use if you want to show that things are improving.


Terry




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Re: Coal
« Reply #32 on: June 07, 2013, 11:00:26 PM »
When coal production slumps it will be a cause for celebration, but since 2000 it's increased by 39%.
I'm left with a nagging thought in the back of my mind - we know coal isn't exactly in immediate danger of running out and liquid fuels are likely around production peak - there is a real threat that "coal to liquid" takes off.

Would we do anything so inconceivably stupid in the name of keeping combustion engines running? Unfortunately I think the tar sands and Arctic resource rush answer that question.

As such I think we must keep in mind that just as there are things that might reduce coal use there are also things that might increase it. There is no clear sign that national government of any substantial world power is taking the climate impact of coal especially seriously in how they approach national policy. Fine words are great - until a nation decides to scrap it's nuclear and turn up the coal again - or a government changes and quietly lets the pledges of the last one fade away. Only concrete changes can therefore be held up as evidence.

The UK has made various pledges to cut emissions, I'm very skeptical that there is a real intention to honour them (at least not by changing over the energy infrastructure). They're conveniently shunted far enough off into the future that nothing much need be done immediately.

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Re: Coal
« Reply #33 on: June 08, 2013, 12:20:14 AM »
Terry, I can't draw you a graph of the future.  I just don't have those skills.

If you wish to believe that the US and Germany will not close the coal plants which are scheduled to close and China will not reduce their current use of coal starting in 2015, well, your crystal ball is your crystal ball.  I've no way to prove mine superior except to look at the record to date.  The US has closed coal plants and China has generally overachieved their clean energy targets.

The US hit production and consumption peaks in 2009 and both were lower in 2010 and 2011.

Germany hit their 'recent years' peak in 2009.  They are down drastically since 1991.

Russian consumption has been roughly flat.  They are producing, likely exporting, more.

South Africa consumption is down from 2008.

Japan's consumption was highest in 2008.

Australia's consumption peaked in 2007, stayed flat for a few years, and was down a bit in 2011.

North Korea may have peaked in 2005.  The site states that the data is not reliable.

Ukraine's consumption shows no particular pattern to me.

China is the only country of the "top 80+% user" group who is still increasing consumption.

Those post-2008 drops may be due to the economic downturn, but in the ensuing five years most of those countries have added renewable capacity and worked on efficiency.

http://www.indexmundi.com/energy.aspx?country=ua&product=coal&graph=production+consumption

Now, that's data only to the end of 2011.   I'm unaware of any of the non-listed countries busy building new coal plants.  Perhaps Canada is, they are currently running in the wrong direction when it comes to the environment. 

To increase coal consumption outside of the 'top ten' there will have to be some plants built in which to burn the coal that most of the top ten are not going to be burning.  You can't just pile up a lot of coal, attach a wire at each side of the pile, and set it on fire.

And those plants will have to be built faster than other plants are being closed.




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Re: Coal
« Reply #34 on: June 08, 2013, 05:50:20 AM »
Here are the EIA world production stats on Total Primary Coal Production from 1980 to 2011:

http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/iedindex3.cfm?tid=1&pid=7&aid=1&cid=ww,&syid=1980&eyid=2011&unit=TST

You can use the same link for different countries or regions of the world and get data on various coal products. I looked at the total production of coal.

The data shows world coal production increasing every year until 1991, 1992 and 1993, when it declined. The world production of coal did not decrease during the Great Recession. If coal is being produced, it's being used for something that generates CO2.

Looking at trends in a country like the US is misleading unless it's done in a comprehensive manner. The US saw major increases in natural gas production which can compete with coal. The realities of electricity generation require using some type of fuel to generate a base load. That requires very large facilities running at constant state. Hydroelectricity can be operated with some flexibility, but a large power plant can't turn the heat off and on, because it damages the facility. The rule of thumb in the US is to get large power plants running at capacity and use natural gas turbines to supply peak loads.

The US is on a path to reduce coal consumption, because you can't clean up the pollutants associated with coal. The trend is to switch coal fired boilers to natural gas, which will remove sulfur and metal emissions. The US is also on a path to export coal.

Whether China can reduce coal consumption remains to be seen. The main issue in China is air quality, but where do they get the natural gas to solve that problem? I don't recall India being mentioned and India is suffering an electricity shortage. I also expect Brazil to become a major player.

Ultimately, all the countries of the world will have to wise up and stop CO2 emissions. The present trend is to improve air quality and not reduce overall emissions of CO2. Only a new generation of nuclear power is big enough to replace those fossil fuels and it also needs to replace the dinosaur technology of the world's present commercial nuclear power industry. The world needs safe nuclear reactors that can't meltdown and which clean up their nuclear wastes, like Thorium MSRs.

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Re: Coal
« Reply #35 on: June 08, 2013, 07:11:05 AM »
The realities of electricity generation require using some type of fuel to generate a base load. That requires very large facilities running at constant state.

That's incorrect.  We ran the 20th Century grid that way because what we had in large supply was thermal power which was not dispatchable.

That does not mean that future grids will run in the same fashion.  What we seem to be moving to is a grid fed by renewables "when they are supplying" with storage, dispatchable supply and load-shifting filling in the holes.

Whether China can reduce coal consumption remains to be seen. The main issue in China is air quality, but where do they get the natural gas to solve that problem?

China is installing a very large amount of wind and solar.  They have a large amount of hydro for fill-in.

I don't recall India being mentioned and India is suffering an electricity shortage. I also expect Brazil to become a major player.

Things are not so clear with India.  They have been installing a lot of wind and are starting to install solar.  They also have new hydro that they've brought on line.  If India builds new thermal it might be nuclear.  Nuclear and coal are both expensive but at least nuclear doesn't add to India's pollution problems.

India's per capita CO2 emissions are tiny compared to the real problem countries.  India's big contribution to cutting global warming is likely to come from moving hundreds of millions of people off kerosene and onto micro-solar.  That will be a cut in both CO2 and carbon soot.

Brazil has been adding very large amounts of wind to their grid.  Electricity production from coal  in Brazil was 2.10% of total electricity as of 2009. Its highest value over the past 38 years was 3.47% in 2001.

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Re: Coal
« Reply #36 on: June 09, 2013, 07:30:48 AM »
Australia may be one of the most coal-dependent economies in the world, but by the end of this decade, it may have one of the greenest global grids.

A new analysis of government data compiled by Green Energy Markets finds Australia on track to not only hit 22% renewables by 2020, but reach an unprecedented 51% of all electricity by 2050.

Two major factors are empowering this paradigm shift: rapid growth of solar energy and the gradual phase-out of oil and brown coal – the two most carbon-intense energy resources.
..

Electricity consumption in the National Electricity Market fell 5.5% (11,400
GWh) from 2008 to 2012, with more than half of this reduction attributable to solar and energy efficiency activities supported by Government market based schemes.

Distributed generation from rooftop solar PV and solar water heater systems are considered by the government as reductions in demand. Good thing, as one million Australian homes now have rooftop solar.

 


http://cleantechnica.com/2013/05/30/australia-approaches-22-renewables-by-2020-51-by-2050/


Note that the use of both black and brown coal in Australia have been dropping for the last few years.


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Re: Coal
« Reply #37 on: June 09, 2013, 09:32:41 PM »
World Coal Association data
2300+ coal power plants globally
620 in China

World Resources Institute Nov 2012
1200 new coal plants proposed (many of which will not be built but many will as well)

http://www.engineerlive.com/content/21600
coal power plant capacity to grow 625 MW between 2010 and 2020

According to the Center for Global Development (data 2007) there are 50,000 power plants (all kinds) run by utility companies globally.  There are thousands of others that are owned by corporations who provide their own power (many of these are coal) .

 

Source of Electricity (World total year 2008)
                                                   Coal   Oil   Natural Gas   Nuclear   Hydro   other   Total

Average electric power (TWh/year) 8,263 1,111  4,301        2,731 3,288     568    20,261
Proportion                                      41%   5%     21%        13%    16%       3%     100%

 

The below EIA link shows the breakout of sources of electricity production and future projections.  Especially note the 2nd graph and note the category for renewables (non-hydro) to compare them with other sources.  It's pretty stark.

http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=3270#

It is possible to get the impression from some of the above posts that coal consumption is declining and being replaced by solar.  This is not the case.  Solar and wind are growing nicely (in a typical industry sense, not in a manner that can meaningfully reduce CO2 emissions) but they are not replacing anything.  They are ADDING to the total generating capacity. 

Coal use is massive and shows no signs of stopping growing yet, let alone decline.  By the time that happens .....
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Coal
« Reply #38 on: June 09, 2013, 10:17:23 PM »
Coal is abundant and relatively cheap to win. When there is a fall in demand, the price falls and it becomes too cheap to ignore again.

Germany has increased both coal production and consumption over the past year. Paradoxically, part of this is attributable to a switch away from nuclear generation, the disaster at Fukushima having given a final push to the Green agenda. (Equally paradoxically, it has led to increased import of energy from nuclear-dependent France.)

This has been widely reported. See for example:
FRANKFURT,  June 7 (Reuters) - German hard coal consumption and imports were up in the first quarter of 2013 and power exports were also higher mostly due to hard-coal fired production, coal importers lobby VDKI said in a statement on Friday.  Production of power from hard coal fired generation plants was roughly 7.7 percent up year-on-year at 42 terawatt hours (TWh), it said in estimates based on official figures and VDKI calculations. Input of hard coal into total power generation in that quarter rose by 14.5 percent to 14.5 million tonnes of hard coal equivalent. Coal burn and imports are often converted into hard coal equivalent depending on the coal's calorific value to achieve price comparability. Imports of steam coal for power plants rose 25 percent to over 10 million tonnes in the three months, VDKI said, citing its own estimates.

http://www.xe.com/news/2013/06/07/3385585.htm?

If you're talking about the US, according to the EIA, coal consumption for production of electricity is projected to increase, not decrease, by 2040.
http://www.eia.gov/coal/

India isn’t planning to cut back on coal consumption any time soon:
India's coal production has increased at a 5-year compound average growth rate (CAGR) of 4.6% to 540 million tonnes (mt) in FY2012. Over the last few years, the increase in production has come almost entirely from non-coking coal. Production of coking coal has increased at a low rate mainly because of lower production by Coal India Limited (CIL).
Rising prices has ensured improved financials for CIL during FY2010-12. Although competition from alternate suppliers and imports is likely to increase considerably over the medium-term, the dominant position of CIL is unlikely to be impacted.

Consistently increasing demand-supply gap, increased production, steady reduction in workforce, and productivity improvement measures are the factors which may have a positive impact on CIL's profitability on a consolidated basis. However, performance variations across subsidiaries may continue.
India's energy supply and demand is likely to be dominated by coal for many decades to come, primarily because of its lower costs and abundant availability. Compared with limited oil and gas reserves, India's coal resources and reserves are enormous. As a result, even under a wide range of scenarios, coal is expected to contribute between 44% and 51% of the India's energy supply by 2035, compared with 42% in 2010.
Coal is expected to continue to be the main source of electricity generation, with its share increasing from 68% in 2010 to 68.6% in 2035. Coal is expected to remain India's most competitive fuel choice for power generation over the next 2-3 decades.
In industry, coal is expected to be primarily used in steel and cement production, and is expected to be the main fuel used. Although world demand prospects for coal could increasingly be dependent on climate change policies, such factors could have less influence in developing countries such as India, which could place a higher value on economic growth and security of energy supply than on environmental objectives. Because of the long life of coal-fired power plants, and the higher cost of building advanced plants, alternate infrastructure will come into operation only very gradually.

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-02-14/news/37100382_1_coal-imports-coal-demand-coal-production


See also industry market analysts. Although they are bearish in the short term about coal stocks, they are optimistic about the long term.
The EIA report also suggests U.S. coal production will increase by 1% in 2013 and 1.3% in 2014, primarily due to an expected rise in natural gas prices from 2012 levels. The relative increase in US natural gas price, compared to coal, will also increase the share of coal in electricity generation. The EIA report suggests coal’s share in electricity generation in 2013 will reach 39.5%, up from 37.4% in 2012.

Admittedly, the dominance of coal as a source of electricity generation has diminished with the availability of other fuel sources. However, as per an EIA report, coal will continue to be the major source of electricity generation in the U.S. until 2035.

In contrast, petroleum and nuclear power as sources of power generation have been losing market share, displaced by the strong growth of renewable sources of generation and natural gas-fired generation. Petroleum is losing out to coal because it is becoming increasingly expensive. After the Japan earthquake/tsunami in 2011, nuclear power’s contribution to total energy generation has declined from the prior year."

It's worth looking at that article in full.

http://www.zacks.com/commentary/26569/Coal-Industry-Stock-Outlook-April-2013


According to the EIA:
China’s economic recovery has stumbled and coal demand there is down but it remains largest producer and consumer of coal in the world, and accounts for almost half of the world's coal consumption.
http://www.eia.gov/countries/country-data.cfm?fips=CH

Bob, I wish I could share your optimism.

Bob Wallace

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Re: Coal
« Reply #39 on: June 09, 2013, 10:22:55 PM »
Well, some of us find projections which expect coal use to increase and others (actually only I) find projections which show coal use to decrease.

Time, obviously, will tell.

In the meantime, your collective pessimism has beaten me down. 


ggelsrinc

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Re: Coal
« Reply #40 on: June 10, 2013, 05:24:22 AM »
Well, some of us find projections which expect coal use to increase and others (actually only I) find projections which show coal use to decrease.

Time, obviously, will tell.

In the meantime, your collective pessimism has beaten me down.

I expect future reductions in the use of coal, because it's too polluting and can't be cleaned up in present power plants. I was just pointing out the history of coal production and how it hasn't declined yet, except for that early '90s period. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out coal is just bad news and developed countries aren't going to want it around.

I haven't given it much thought, but does someone know why coal production declined in '91, '92 and '93?

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Re: Coal
« Reply #41 on: June 10, 2013, 07:50:22 AM »
USSR collapse?
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ggelsrinc

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Re: Coal
« Reply #42 on: June 10, 2013, 08:42:57 AM »
USSR collapse?

Russian natural gas availability after the USSR collapse could be part of the story. I think the decline in coal production in those early '90s has something to do with various nation's clean air standards to rid themselves of acid rain and a switch to natural gas as an alternative fuel. I haven't checked it yet, but I'd expect natural gas production increases to more than offset any decline in coal production during those years. It's the only obvious answer I can think of and it's the only present way I would expect a future decline in coal production in the immediate future. I don't expect to see an overall non-economic related decline in fossil fuel production until the governments of the world are very serious about controlling CO2 emissions and policies are implimented for the decline of fossil fuel use.

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Re: Coal
« Reply #43 on: June 10, 2013, 09:28:52 PM »
According to the EIA link posted above, USSR mined 881,836,000 tons of coal in 1990.  Production dropped nearly in half in the early 1990s (in former Soviet republics), and only recovered to about 500,000,000 tons in 2011.  So yes, Neven, the Soviet Union collapse does account for the early 1990s coal slump.  Other countries subsequently picked up the production slack, and then some. 
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ggelsrinc

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Re: Coal
« Reply #44 on: June 11, 2013, 07:54:34 AM »
According to the EIA link posted above, USSR mined 881,836,000 tons of coal in 1990.  Production dropped nearly in half in the early 1990s (in former Soviet republics), and only recovered to about 500,000,000 tons in 2011.  So yes, Neven, the Soviet Union collapse does account for the early 1990s coal slump.  Other countries subsequently picked up the production slack, and then some.


The early '90s decline in coal production is a result of acid rain and other clean air policies. The US reduced sulfur emissions by 40% and the EU reduced theirs by 70%.

Since the 1990s, SO2 emissions have dropped 40%, and according to the Pacific Research Institute, acid rain levels have dropped 65% since 1976.[34][35] However, although it reduced emissions by 40%, the US Acid Rain Program has not reduced SO2 emissions as much as the conventional regulation applied in the European Union (EU), which reduced SO2 emissions by more than 70%.[36] Therefore, the effectiveness of the emissions trading element as a mechanism has been criticised, since the EPA also used regulations to achieve the reductions, as all areas of the country "had to meet national, health-based, air quality standards that are separate from the Acid Rain Program’s requirements".[37]


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acid_Rain_Program

One of the easiest ways to cut sulfur emissions is to not use coal, but coal also had pollutants like mercury, cadmium and arsenic. From what I recall the utilities in the US managed to reduce mercury pollution from 52 tons to 42 tons since those years. It's possible to reduce sulfur emissions by around 95%, but it requires expensive retrofit and using calcium carbonate (limestone). The problem then becomes, what do you do with all that calcium sulfate. The market is limited and most of it has to be placed in landfills. A small quantity of clean gypsum was used as construction material (drywall).

In the US and Europe, some utilities cancelled plans for coal fired boilers and switched to alternative fuels (natural gas). World coal production declined for a few years, but the utilities soon learned the regulations were more bark than bite in the US. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_Air_Act_(1990)#Clean_Air_Act_Amendments_of_1990

There is actually a story here of the markets responding to government pollution regulations in ways that reduced world coal production for 3 years.

In 1991, total primary coal production declined 315,962 thousand short tons from the previous year and the USSR collapsed at the end of '91. '92 only shows a decline of 69,073 thousand short tons. Production increases or declines mirror market demand. 305,714 thousand short tons or 96.8% of that '91 decline was in bituminous and lignite coal.

My intentions to discuss coal production and reflect on times of it's reduction is to look at the past and see how such changes can be implimented in the future. The fact is China produces more than three times as much coal as the US and China imports coal, so it's consumption of coal is around 3.8 times the US. China's coal production is over ten times the Russian coal production and Russia has been building coal fired power plants to replace natural gas so exports of natural gas can be increased, according to an EIA report.

Personally, I think the countries of the world should stop coal consumption and I'm delighted with any alternative energy resource that doesn't produce CO2. Where I differ from the purists is I'll take half a cup if I can't get the whole. I think North America, Europe and Russia could produce and distribute enough natural gas to stop coal consumption in those areas, but the US would have to become a natural gas exporter. From my assessment of electricity generating capacity by natural gas, the US could cut electricity from coal to around 7% and that's existing built generating capacity. There is certainly enough fleasibility to shut down coal fired power plants and some could be retrofited to use natural gas.

ggelsrinc

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Re: Coal
« Reply #45 on: June 11, 2013, 11:43:02 AM »
Here is an article on global carbon emissions that has some useful information about coal:

In the United States, a switch from coal to gas in power generation helped reduce emissions by 200 million tons, bringing them back to the level of the mid-1990s.


Source: http://local.msn.com/carbon-emissions-word-record-high-in-2012

The article mentions CO2 emissions increased 1.4% to 31.6 billion tons, the bad economy in Europe only allowed a 50 million tons reduction, Japan increased emission by 70 million tons because of Fukushima and China increased emissions by 300 million tons, but that increase is one of the lowest in the past decade.

My take on that data is I would expect coal consumption and CO2 emissions to decline in Europe, Japan and especially in the US with their access to natural gas. I still expect world coal production to increase with increased CO2 emissions from China. I don't foresee India supplying their electricity needs without using coal. 


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Re: Coal
« Reply #46 on: June 11, 2013, 04:50:53 PM »
gg


If the US & Australia stopped using and exporting coal the resulting price bump on the world market might be enough to lower coal use globally. This would be the time for such policies since natural gas prices are low, once they've rebounded the window will have closed. India and China would still be burning domestic coal, but other importers might switch to a better alternative (and almost anything is a better alternative).


Export bans might provide more bang for the buck than other carbon reduction policies & while it's still far too little and far too late it would at least give the US some credibility with other nations that have taken global warming more seriously.


Terry

ggelsrinc

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Re: Coal
« Reply #47 on: June 12, 2013, 08:05:30 AM »
gg


If the US & Australia stopped using and exporting coal the resulting price bump on the world market might be enough to lower coal use globally. This would be the time for such policies since natural gas prices are low, once they've rebounded the window will have closed. India and China would still be burning domestic coal, but other importers might switch to a better alternative (and almost anything is a better alternative).


Export bans might provide more bang for the buck than other carbon reduction policies & while it's still far too little and far too late it would at least give the US some credibility with other nations that have taken global warming more seriously.


Terry


Terry

I can understand your point about increasing the price of coal by creating a shortage, but let's flesh that out with data and assessment!

According to RET, Australia exported about 70 percent of its coal production in 2009-2010, or about 322 MMst. According to the Australian Coal Association, Japan was the destination for 43 percent of Australia's coal exports during Australian fiscal year 2009-2010. Other important export markets included South Korea (15 percent), China (14 percent), and India (11 percent). About 8 percent of Australia's coal exports went to Europe.

Coal exports are serviced by 9 major coal ports and export terminals located in Queensland and NSW. These terminals in 2009 had a combined handling capacity of 400 MMst. Several new port infrastructure projects are in various stages of development and are expected to add about 130 MMst to annual coal export capacity by 2014. These include the Dalrymple Bay capacity expansion and the Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group's capacity expansion at the Port of Newcastle.


Source: http://www.eia.gov/countries/cab.cfm?fips=AS

Australia uses about 100 million short tons of coal for domestic consumption and has built infrastructure to export 400 million short tons. That export capacity is being developed to export 530 million short tons by 2014. Notice the primary destination for Australian exports of coal and LNG is Japan and not China or India.

http://www.eia.gov/coal/production/quarterly/pdf/t7p01p1.pdf

The US produces about 1,000 - 1,100 million short tons of coal, exports around 10% of that and most of the US exports go to Europe. The data shows US exports to China increasing substantially in 2012, but that increase was in the first half of the year. There are efforts to increase US coal exports by building infrastructure for it to be exported. The US government also has policies to depress the price of coal as evidenced by lawsuits over royalties. You will also notice the year to year changes in exports to particular countries are large. It indicates to me that countries change their imports of coal quite often.

If the US & Australia stopped using and exporting coal, they aren't going to allow all that equipment to produce coal just rust away, so I would expect it to go to somewhere else producing coal or some other type of mining. The country I see hurt most is Japan. I don't think Australia could stop using coal without cutting back it's LNG exports. Korea would also find itself in that area of Asia without developed energy resources. I don't think eastern Russia could become a supplier and China would need all their domestic production and then some. That only leaves North America and long distance exports from the Middle East as an option. India would also suffer more from it's electricity shortage.

Australia doesn't export much of it's coal to Europe, but the US does. If Europe tries domestic production, the coal is of a lesser grade and more polluting. Russia could step up again and become a major producer of coal, but I don't see the countries near the Russian resource wanting their future electricity to come from coal and only the lack of an alternative resource is the reason Europe continues to use coal. I picture Europe eventually switching to natural gas from the Middle East, North Africa, Russia and North America.

If the US & Australia stopped using and exporting coal, I think the resulting price bump would include natural gas because of an increase in demand and the price of all energy would be pressured upwards. If exceptions weren't made, it would really hurt the economies of certain countries. Since the benefits of such a change are dependent on natural gas, I think Canada and the US should start a state corporation, like Norway did in the North Sea. They could contract to produce resources on public lands and offshore territories. That would give them the leverage to put downward pressure on natural gas prices. Low cost abundant natural gas is the best present solution to stopping coal fired power plants.

Unfortunately, I don't see the US or Australia heading in the proper direction and the same applies to most other countries. If they were ever motivated to pursue such a policy, they could phase the changes in over time, but I wouldn't suggest a long period of time. I'd say maybe more than 5 years, but definitely less than 10 years.   

 

 

JimD

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Re: Coal
« Reply #48 on: June 13, 2013, 05:43:42 PM »
The BP 2013 Statistical Review of World Energy was released Wednesday.

Coal remains the worlds fastest growing fossil fuel.

http://www.platts.com/RSSFeedDetailedNews/RSSFeed/Coal/26015975

http://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/about-bp/statistical-review-of-world-energy-2013.html

Some VERY important numbers to look at here are the growth rate and consumption numbers for renewables and compare them to the overall growth rate and consumption numbers for Primary energy.

This will clearly make the point that, while growth in renewables is very fast, what renewables are providing is a slowing of the growth rate of fossil fuels.  Not a reduction in their use.  At their current growth rate, renewables will eventually match the growth in global primary energy consumption.  Only then will they have reached the point where they have the 'potential' to reduce fossil fuel consumption.  But Jeavon's paradox might come into play and play havoc with that assumption.

2012 numbers (over 2011) are:

Renewables:  +15% growth   or     67.8 million tonnes equivalent

Total Primary:   +1.8%     or         251.6 million tonnes equivalent

Renewables percent growth of total growth:  27%

While there are places where new renewables are meeting energy consumption growth requirements, on a global basis they are meeting just over 1/4 of energy consumption growth.

This illustrates my point about having a rapidly growing population.  More people increases energy demand.  Rising affluence will also raise energy demand.  Both together are crushing.  9 billion people will consume a lot more energy than 7.2 billion.  The core problem is population.
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How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

NeilT

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Re: Coal
« Reply #49 on: June 14, 2013, 11:26:53 AM »
There is one core solution to this issue.

Getting people to understand that the climatic changes we are driving in our planet will impact anyone, living today, who is 40 or under.  It will massively impact anyone 20 or under today and anyone born in the next 20 years will live in a word which is inherently hostile to them.

Then and ONLY then can you highlight the root causes such as coal and oil use; which is driving the CO2; which is changing the planet.

Never mind the fact that the science community has been saying “100 years” for 30 years now.  It doesn’t even seem to have entered the awareness of people, or the media, that this now means 70 years to a train wreck.  More importantly, the train wreck gets bigger and closer for every decade of inaction.

Back in 1996 I identified this in my mind as pushing a huge boulder up a very large mountain with a rounded top.  At the bottom of the other side is a small village called humanity.  The harder humanity partied, the more energy was imparted to the boulder to push it up the mountain.

All the CO2 effort so far has gone into pushing the boulder to the top of the mountain.

At around 2000, the boulder reached the top.  In the next decade it started to go under its own momentum to start on its track back down to village humanity.

Where do we stand now?  Well we could have stopped pushing before 2,000.  We could have halted the rise of the boulder.  Instead we chose to party harder and push it faster.  It has gained so much momentum now that it cannot be stopped.

So what can we do?

Well, normally you’d say “Stop Pushing”.  But of course most of humanity doesn’t think they are, really, they think it is someone else’s problem.

Next we could try to stop it, but that is pretty much out of the question.  Not only would we have to stop partying, we’d have to go into forced indentured servitude to build the structure capable of stopping it.  Hardly a popular message for a hedonistic partying village.  It’s lynching talk.

So what are we left with?  Well we can hack chunks off the boulder.  We can make it smaller so that each push has less momentum and the impact can be a little less.

But, in the end, it all comes down to acceptance.  So long as people don’t accept that village humanity is about to be crushed by a weight so large that it almost defies comprehension, nobody is going to engage in resolving the issue until they fully recognize the reality and the impact.

Once and only once, the general populace accept that they are going to be heavily impacted by CO2 driven climate change, will they be open to issues such as increases in coal production and consumption.

That is the main solution which must be achieved first.  Yes other things such as renewables development and implementation must go on in parallel.  However, these projects are being delivered under the wrong model.

Renewables is not for cost or personal benefit.  Although this is by far the fastest way in a capitalist world.  Renewables is for the survival of the species.  But until you get the message over that it IS species survival, you can’t push renewables on the correct model.

It’s all about communicating the correct message and winning the FUD war.
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