Archived Story

Nation needs to understand ‘coal’ hard truth

Published 8:58am Thursday, May 9, 2013

The World Resources Institute reports there are 1,200 new coal-fired power plants being planned in 59 countries, with three-quarters in China and India.

India has plans for 455 new plants compared to 363 in China, which is experiencing a slowdown after a vast building program in the past decade.

Developing countries such as Guatemala, Cambodia, Morocco, Namibia, Senegal, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan, are planning coal-fired plants when they produce almost no coal at all.

In Europe; Germany, the UK and France remain top 10 importers, and coal use is on the rise. Coal led the UK’s energy generation mix, accounting for 42.8 percent of energy supplied in 2012, surging from around 30 percent in 2011.

Households in economies with a high penetration of wind and solar pay more for their electricity. Consumers in Germany, Spain, Denmark and Portugal pay twice as much for their electricity as those living in Australia; where gas produces 12 percent, renewables 7 percent and coal 56 percent of electrical generation.

International experience shows when regulatory requirements are used to increase a nation’s share of intermittent renewables, the result is high retail electricity prices.

John Hatton, Britain’s Cabinet official responsible for energy, will speak about the future of coal during a speech to the free market Adam Smith Institute in London. Hutton’s remarks are a clear sign that the British government will approve plans to build Britain’s first coal-fired power plant since 1984 at Kingsworth, Kent.

A further seven coal-fired plants are in the pipeline if minsters give the go-ahead to Kingsworth. Ministers insist they recognize the environmental concerns, claiming Britain was taking a global lead on clean coal power generation. They argue they could not afford to play fast and loose with energy supplies and must insure “the lights stay on.”

In the U.S. a growing number of renewable projects are being canceled or delayed because of unwillingness to add even small amounts to consumers’ electricity bills. Electricity generated from wind or sun still generally costs more — sometimes much more — than the power generated by coal or natural gas.

The Wall Street Journal reports “legislatures in half the states that require electric utilities to buy renewable energy are considering proposals to roll back those mandates.”

These mandates have helped fuel a huge expansion of U.S. solar and wind capacity in recent years. There are no federal laws requiring utilities to purchase renewable energy, but mandates require it in 29 states.

At least 14 of those states, including Ohio, have introduced bills that would water down or repeal renewable energy mandates.

Texas state representative Scott Sanford said he wrote a bill because he is opposed to government mandates. In an interview he stated, “they need to be developed with free-market principles, not with the heavy hand of government directing us to an inefficient process.”

Subsidies for renewable-energy cause electricity prices to rise.

Germany’s large industrial power consumers have seen electricity prices rise nearly 40 percent in the past five years, according to the Cologne Institute for Economic Research.

Michael Huther, the institute’s director, said data shows that energy-intensive industries are curtailing investment in Germany because of higher electricity charges.

In Europe, the only reason why renewable energy is growing is because it is being subsidized by governments that are technically insolvent.

At some point the renewable energy system built on government subsidies that no one can afford will lead to a spectacular crash, at which time power generation reverts to the cheapest fuel source — coal.

Joseph P. Smith

president

Pyro-Chem Corporation

South Point

 

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