The case for coal

From Forbes:

But despite fears of global warming coal remains the fastest-growing fossil fuel worldwide, thanks to China’s sprawling economy and fears of nuclear disasters in places like Germany and Japan, which mothballed nuke plants after Fukushima. Coal’s share of the domestic power-generation pie has bounced back to 42%, from a low of 36% in 2012, amid a rebound in natural gas prices over the past two years. Solar and wind energy may grab headlines and taxpayer subsidies, but coal’s share of U.S. electrical generation remains nine times greater than that of those two combined. “Declaring the death of coal is premature,” says Bob Yu, analyst at Bentek Energy, a division of Platts.

Last winter’s polar vortex demonstrated coal’s continued importance in the U.S. As fierce cold gripped the Northeast, natural gas ran short, and prices spiked from $4.50 per 1,000 cubic feet to more than $70 in some areas. Had coal-fired plants slated for closure in the area already been shut down, the result would have been blackouts in subzero weather. By the time winter was over, coal inventories had fallen to ten-year lows. Back in 2012 it cost $10 more to generate a megawatt hour of electricity from coal than it did from gas. Now, according to Bentek, that’s flipped, and coal is $12 per MWh cheaper.

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13 Responses to The case for coal

  1. hammy

    Third first in one day!

  2. Time to get those reactors back online and stop treating greenism with anything more than contempt.

    In our case, time to build a few reactors.

  3. Wallace

    Maybe the available energy from renewables has been overstated by some.
    Really good set of verifiable figures here.
    http://www.postcarbon.org/Reader/PCReader-Hughes-Energy.pdf

  4. nerblnob

    Maybe the available energy from renewables has been overstated by some.

    Maybe the Pope is a Catholic.

    “Overstated by some” is a generous understatement.

  5. will

    Third first in one day!

    That’s what happens when you are not part of the productive sector of the economy.

  6. entropy

    oh contraire~ I think Hammy has been very productive to day. Those firsts were well and truly earned.

  7. rickw

    It’s not really the case for coal, it’s simply the case of letting free market economics decide what sources of energy should be used.

    What is economic is often increadibly finely balanced and can literally swing with the seasons. As an example there are companies that buy DPK (Dual Purpose Kerosene) in summer in Japan, ship it to Korea, store it for 6 months and then ship it back to Japan. Their entire model for making money is the difference in the price between summer and winter (Japan has a huge reliance on kerosene for home heating).

    For fossil fuels, no more accounting needs to be done than simply the cost of the product, the byproduct is actually gaseous plant food which is not a bad thing.

    For nuclear you need to ensure that the cost of handling and storage of the waste is accounted for. All that means is that South Australia should be in the cradle to grave uranium business.

  8. Michel Lasouris

    The only way Hammy can get three firsts in a day ( fully understanding his intellect) is that Hammy knows something/someone that we don’t…..Is Hammy in fact Sync himself?

  9. Michel Lasouris

    But on a serious note, Thorium ( of which Australia has oodles) molten salt fission systems can actually consume the waste from Uranium based reactors as a fuel , the resultant waste from the Thorium reaction is hugely less toxic. Thinks about it…cheap, safe, small, local electricity generation that pays for itself, because Australia could charge those nations with Uranium reactors for processing their nuclear waste. Perfect!

  10. Michel Lasouris

    And redundant nuclear warheads.

  11. Bruce of Newcastle

    Hammy aside, the Brits just discovered up to 23 trillion tonnes of coal under the North Sea. Which if extracted could feed world consumption for roughly 2 thousand years.

    Should give us enough time to work out the best way to use the 20 thousand years worth of thorium and breeder uranium 238 that we know is available. And that might just about allow enough R&D for the billion years of deuterium fusion we have floating around in the oceans.

  12. Bruce of Newcastle

    Michel – You got in just before me. But the molten salt reactor is not the way to do it. Too corrosive to use for ‘hot’ stuff. The fuel element approach used by the Indians and Candu is how we should do it, at least to start with.

    I’ve done a lot of work with halide engineering and molten salt systems. Its not a forgiving system.

  13. Notafan

    A lump of coal is also the ideal Christmas gift for warmies everwhere.

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