Europe’s golden age of coal

Remind me what the purpose of the carbon tax is. This is from The Economist:

WHILE coal production and use plummet in America, in Europe ‘we have some kind of golden age of coal,’ says Anne-Sophie Corbeau of the International Energy Agency. The amount of electricity generated from coal is rising at annualised rates of as much as 50% in some European countries. Since coal is by the far the most polluting source of electricity, with more greenhouse gas produced per kilowatt hour than any other fossil fuel, this is making a mockery of European environmental aspirations.

And what’s more, the uncertainties created by carbon taxes in Europe are causing utilities to look elsewhere to invest:

Faced with such uncertainties, businesses are doing what you would expect: going elsewhere. Jesse Scott, the head of environment policy at EURELECTRIC, an association of electricity producers, asked European energy utilities which also have an international portfolio where they were expecting to invest over the next few years; 85% replied ‘outside Europe’.

Well it may be outside Europe but it won’t be inside Australia. The sequence of bureaucratic screw ups and policy blunders makes it funny in a macabre sort of way. But that The Economist sides with the environmentalists makes it really not very funny at all.

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29 Responses to Europe’s golden age of coal

  1. Jarrah

    asked European energy utilities which also have an international portfolio where they were expecting to invest over the next few years; 85% replied ‘outside Europe’.

    This is no surprise. Europe’s energy market is mature, the peninsula is undergoing a demographic decline, GFC echoes are still shaking European economies, and energy productivity is on an upward trend.

  2. H B Bear

    Beautiful. A perfect storm of misplaced Green policy making, political interference, consumers and taxpayers getting screwed and all for nothing. Europe deserves to be in the mess it is in.

  3. Louis Hissink

    energy productivity – what is that?

  4. Jarrah

    “energy productivity – what is that?”

    The ratio of output divided by energy.

  5. Mk50 of Brisbane

    Less energy input per unit of production, Louis.

    Roll on coal. It’s great stuff, provides my friends and family with mucho well-paid gainful employment.

  6. Louis Hissink

    And when the coal runs out ?

  7. Leigh Lowe

    And when the coal runs out ?

    …… You and I will have been dead for 1,000 years.

  8. Louis Hissink

    Leigh,

    I suspect that after 1000 years, fossilation might have put that idea to rest.

  9. dd

    And when the coal runs out ?

    It will be a disaster, just as running out of bronze was a disaster for the “Bronze Age”.

  10. .

    ???

    I thought productivity might refer to EROEI.

  11. .

    Don’t laugh C.L., the usual economic luddites thought we were at peak uranium when nuclear was touted as an alternative to peak oil.

  12. Splatacrobat

    And when the coal runs out ?

    We can go back to Peat.

    Peat is harvested as an important source of fuel in certain parts of the world. By volume, there are about 4 trillion m³ of peat in the world covering a total of around 2% of global land area (about 3 million km²), containing about 8 billion terajoules of energy.

  13. “And when the coal runs out?”

    Ummm…abiotic oil? Fusion? Cold fusion? Geothermal? Hell, in 1000 years who knows, maybe even solar will be efficient by then. No hope for wind, though, unless you want to mill wheat with it.

  14. mareeS

    “And when coal runs out..”

    There’s at least 300 years’ worth of coal at present extraction rates and methods in my region, being exported at 100m tonnes per year, plus estimated 300 years of gas and shale explored but unexploited, plus offshore lpg deposits that have been identified but not quantified.

    This region of Australia alone is enough to do severe damage to Green minds dreaming of windmill futures.

    They’re doing their best to lock it up, though, with pathetic little wibbles like Jonathan Moylan. (Did they find him at Central Casting for Greenies?)

  15. mareeS

    On reflection, I think he’s Rod Quantock’s secret son.

  16. John A

    ““energy productivity – what is that?”

    The ratio of output divided by energy. (Jarrah
    10 Jan 13 at 10:52 pm)

    Less energy input per unit of production, Louis.
    (Mk50 of Brisbane 10 Jan 13 at 10:58 pm)”

    That’s a measure of production efficiency (which was intended), not productivity (which is a measure of output per worker).

  17. Bruce

    Sadly the Economist editorially has been drifting slowly leftwards. One eyed CAGW silliness is not their only problem, add more calls for monetarist intervention and support for the progressive socialist model, eg their positions on the euro catastrophe and EU social model.

    I am very near to cancelling my subscription. Whereas I’d used to read from end to end, now I skip half or more of the articles.

    Meanwhile the EU this week sold CO2 emissions permits at less than $8/t. And UN CER’s yesterday were 47 euro cents per tonne. We are paying $23/t soon to rise to $25/t. Are we all completely bonkers or is it just the ALP and the Greens?

  18. MattR

    Sadly the Economist editorially has been drifting slowly leftwards.

    Isn’t this the magazine that gave Wayne Swan the title of “Greatest Treasurer in the World”?

    I would have cancelled it right then.

  19. face ache

    Seen painted on the pavement “No blood for oil”. Anti energy. What else is there for life as we know it.

  20. grumpy

    Ah! The old leftie rule of unintended consequences strikes again. Will they never learn?

    BTW rhetorical question. We all know that they are incapable of learning from their mistakes and will go on repeating them.

  21. Mk50 of Brisbane

    We won’t run out of coals. The russkis made a discovery a bout 15 years back, a brown coal deposit in Siberia. They have never fully mapped it, but one section of it is 200km long, 30-40 km wide, and 500-1500m deep.

    QLD alone has enough coal to power the world for 300 years. NSW has more than that. There are vast coal deposits in SA and WA. Vic can power itself for a thousand years just on one of its brown coal deposits.

    And the other half of our huge east coast coal deposits are in Antarctica, as they formed when the continents were joined.

  22. mundi

    Has anyone proven at all that the costs of adaptation in a changed climate are more than the costs of banning coal?

    all i have seen is universal agreement that the first 1 degree of warming will have remarkable economic advantages, more rain, less frost, more farmable land gained than lost. general increase in humidity, at the moment it seems we should be pushing ahead with warming.

  23. H B Bear

    I am very near to cancelling my subscription.

    What’s taking you so long? The Economist hasn’t been worth the price of an international subscription for years. Like so much of the media, including the ALPBC, it survives on its legacy reputation, which it is eroding through weak, progressive journalism.

  24. Bruce

    What’s taking you so long?

    The foreign affairs analysis remains pretty good. Also lunch. Spilling food and coffee on an iPad is expensive, on an Economist mag it just adds to the colour.

  25. Myrrdin Seren

    The Economist sides with the environmentalists

    Read your first quote again Steve:

    Since coal is by the far the most polluting source of electricity, with more greenhouse gas produced per kilowatt hour than any other fossil fuel, this is making a mockery of European environmental aspirations.

    Greenpeace, WWF, other usual suspects ?

    Nope

    Anne-Sophie Corbeau of the International Energy Agency.

    THE IEA is based in Paris – so I guess Anne-Sophie doesn’t get to see a lot of modern thermal power stations – where all you are likely to see is heat haze and steam.

    The IEA says it is …”providing authoritative and unbiased research, statistics, analysis and recommendations.”

    Mmmm – maybe only ‘unbiased’ from the perspective of cosmopolitan European internationalists, where the EU directives on energy and power generation are sacrosanct.

    And as the generators are discouraged from investing in almost anything but useless wind turbines, which are now starting to meet ‘head winds’ in terms of unaffordable subsidies and planning approvals, watch what happens in Britain to see an example of a modern developed economy where the ruling classes decide electricity should no longer be affordable, plentiful and available when required.

  26. Jasbo

    The Economist has been on the decline for 15 years and a shocker for five. I gave up the sub years ago.
    Like James Allan, I fell out of love with it when it lost the educated-sceptic tone that made it so different from the earnest nonsense you have to read at Uni or in journals.
    Put it down as another victim in the long march through the institutions.

  27. Skuter

    Like Jasbo, I gave up on it years ago. I’d rather suck the pus out of a boil on Julia Gillard’s clacker than waste my time reading the economist from cover to cover…

  28. JohnRMcD

    Ah! The Economist magazine. I started subscribing in 2004 when I worked in Saudi Arabia; it was the only news magazine in which I could place any trust. I gave it away when I could no longer trust them to be objective on ANYTHING. As someone said earlier, it has steadily drifted leftwards and into stupidity.

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