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Bad Years : Utilities Speed Up Closure of Coal-Fired Power Plants

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Despite trying for nearly two years to prop up coal by rolling back climate regulations, the industry remains in sharp decline — coal consumption peaked in 2007. The shale boom created a glut of cheap natural gas in America, and the costs to deploy wind and solar continue to plunge. US coal consumption is projected to decline by nearly 4% in 2018 to the lowest level since 1979, the US Energy Information Administration said on Tuesday. At year-end, appetite for coal will be a staggering 44% below 2007 levels.It's all about an industrywide shift by power plants away from coal in favor of natural gas and solar, wind and hydro power. "We're seeing energy Darwinism," said Matt Gray, senior analyst for utilities and power at London-based think tank Carbon Tracker. "Coal's not really in the equation anymore. It's a battle between gas and renewables." Just one tiny coal-fired generator is expected to come online by the end of 2019, according to EIA, a data and analysis unit within the Department of Energy. This point was underscored by ambitious targets rolled out on Tuesday by Xcel Energy (XEL). The power company pledged to deliver 100% carbon-free electricity to customers by 2050. Xcel, which is based in Minneapolis and serves eight Western and Midwestern states, plans to slash its carbon emissions by 80% by 2030 from 2005 levels. Coal is not going away completely. It's still the most-used electricity generation source in parts of Appalachia, including Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia, as well as coal-producing states such as Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. Coal is the leading source of power in 18 states, down from 28 states a decade ago, according to the EIA. And the industry has sought to cushion the decline of coal by boosting exports. Emerging markets including China and India continue to rely on coal to power their rapid growth. US exports of coal soared 61% to 97 million short tons of coal last year. But that's still below the 2012 export peak and pales in comparison to the total US demand for coal of 691 million short tons in 2018, according to the EIA.

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Just as everyone expected years ago when we started seeing new, cleaner forms of energy going up everywhere....

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One thing is for sure: clean energies are expanding. Solar cells will capture all cities in the next few years...

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Red alarm for coal industry. Domestic coal consumption in 2018 fell to 691 million tons, the lowest level since 1979.

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According to facts, coal is on the way out ...

 

image.png.a1283bf064131f601003d7421c45e0ed.png

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No suprised. 3 words: cheap natural gas

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World coal consumption in physical tonnes rose in 2017. Coal accounted for 27% of global primary energy consumption,as second-largest energy source after crude oil. Increased consumption was driven almost entirely by rising demand in India, Southeast Asia, Korea, Russia and China...

 

image.png.a6d7cec7475fac11dc03742ee564e1fc.png 

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30 minutes ago, 50 shades of black said:

Green energy cannot sustain all needs. Other countries tried and failed.

What will stop "green energy" from sustaining all needs? What countries have tried and failed?

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3 hours ago, rainman said:

Red alarm for coal industry. Domestic coal consumption in 2018 fell to 691 million tons, the lowest level since 1979.

That is very good, and natural gas is the primary reason why. It will remain so until coal is gone. 

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India’s Coal Paradox

By Ag Metal Miner - Jan 05, 2019, 10:00 AM CST

Coal mining

Few would have predicted this five years ago, but India is facing a real dilemma.

It is exacerbated by the country’s predilection for subsidies and set against the backdrop of a chronic power generation landscape.

As any regular traveler to India will know, while power outages are not as common as they once were, they remain an almost daily occurrence in many areas. According to the FT, quoting figures from the New Delhi-based Energy and Resources Institute, per-capita electricity consumption by the country’s 1.3 billion people is just 38 percent of the global average, while tens of millions of households still lack grid connections — so demand growth is high and set to continue for decades to come.

Not surprisingly, the government has made the push for reliable, universally available electricity a long-running key policy priority; a policy based largely on coal-fired coal plants that was roundly condemned by both environmental organizations and many Western governments.

India’s Coal Paradox

Coal is the only fossil fuel India has in abundance, with extensive deposits situated in the northeast of the country, although power plants in the west and south often import coal from Indonesia rather than haul product across the country on a rickety rail network. Oil and gas have never been favored because they are largely imported.

As for those subsidies mentioned earlier, the Gujarat state government has just awarded two major coal plants run by Adani — Tata Power and Essar Power — increased power rates to help stem heavy losses the plants are incurring due to uneconomic imported coal supply costs.

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Over the past couple years (and estimated into the future), India’s thermal power capacity additions have given way to solar and wind. Source: FT.

Part of the problem for coal-fired plants has always been competitively priced coal supplies; even though the country has abundant supplies, it suffers from an appalling logistics infrastructure. Today, only plants sited very near to the deposits in northeastern India remain viable. Most of the rest are in trouble, with Credit Suisse estimating half of them as being ‘stressed’ – i.e. interest payment exceeding profits – putting some $35 billion of investments at risk, the FT reports.

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Various sources’ share of India’s total electricity capacity. Source: FT.

Renewable Energy Power Price Collapse Plays Its Part

The second — and, in many ways, more profound — dynamic at work is the collapse of renewable energy power prices.

According to the FT, Japan’s SoftBank, as part of a consortium in 2017 agreed to sell power from a northern Indian solar park for Rs2.44 per unit, well below the cost of coal power, which typically costs well over Rs3. Last year, state-run NTPC — by far the biggest thermal power producer in India — has canceled several plans for large coal projects, including one for a giant 4GW plant in southern Andhra Pradesh state, while Adani Power invested more than $600 million in a solar plant in sunny southern Tamil Nadu. Coal is no longer seen as economically viable in India — not from an environmental point of view, but purely based on the cost of production.

Not surprisingly, in recent meetings, state thermal power station equipment manufacturers were bemoaning (off the record) the dire state of the market, with little on offer except repair and maintenance.

After he was elected in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government set an ambitious target of increasing India’s renewable energy capacity by 2022 to 175GW, equivalent to 40 percent of the country’s total power capacity. This was a target seen as more for external consumption than a genuine strategy; but last year, despite the backlog of coal-fired plants still in the works, more solar power capacity was brought on stream than coal, suggesting the 40 percent target may yet be achieved, particularly if better storage solutions can be achieved to smooth out the variability of renewable power supply.

Until then, coal plants are still needed to provide base-load and increasingly intermittent power, a role they are not as well suited to as gas, but in the absence of anything else may be of such need that those subsidies keep rolling in.

By AG Metal Miner

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(edited)

On 1/9/2019 at 10:19 AM, DA? said:

What will stop "green energy" from sustaining all needs? What countries have tried and failed?

Germany is probably the best example because they are larger, richer, and are trying harder than most and are still very reliant on poor quality coal. Poorer nations like Poland and other Eastern European nations are not as financially able for the switch. Europe has depended on importing natural gas rather than developing their own due to fracking propaganda. Germany is paying far more for energy than it would if it were using more natural gas, especially if it developed its own. 

https://www.cleanenergywire.org/factsheets/germanys-energy-consumption-and-power-mix-charts

Share of electricity from renewable sources in gross electricity consumption in European countries in 2016. Source - Eurostat 2018.

Edited by ronwagn

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12 hours ago, ronwagn said:

Germany is probably the best example because they are larger, richer, and are trying harder than most and are still very reliant on poor quality coal. Poorer nations like Poland and other Eastern European nations are not as financially able for the switch. Europe has depended on importing natural gas rather than developing their own due to fracking propaganda. Germany is paying far more for energy than it would if it were using more natural gas, especially if it developed its own. 

https://www.cleanenergywire.org/factsheets/germanys-energy-consumption-and-power-mix-charts

Share of electricity from renewable sources in gross electricity consumption in European countries in 2016. Source - Eurostat 2018.

Germany's biggest issue is the government is bent over a barrel by the unions behind coal. This is forcing Germany to pour billions into propping up the coal industry. They also use electricity to help control certain eastern European countries exporting considerable amounts. This damages those countries electricity transformation. Poland again has a very powerful coal industry.

I like this chart, it maybe out of date now but shows that renewables can supply a large chunk of a countries electricity with yesterdays tech.

 

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