Renewables Rejected: Demand for Reliable & Affordable Power Driving Asian Coal Renaissance

Among the nonsense spouted by wind and solar acolytes is the line that coal is deader than the dodo.

While the demise of the hapless, flightless bird was clearly due to human intervention, it’s the demands of humans for reliable and affordable power that’s brought coal back to life, particularly across energy-hungry Asia.

The UN/Climate Industrial Complex is none too pleased that places like China, India, Japan, Indonesia and Vietnam are building coal-fired power plants, hell for leather – between them there are plans for a further 600 plants to be added to their already impressive generation fleet.

Faced with a surge in demand for coal, the UN has decided to target one of its key suppliers: Australia.

To which, The Australian’s Greg Sheridan provides the obvious retort: Tell ‘em they’re dreaming.

Abolish our coal industry? Tell ’em they’re dreaming
The Australian
Greg Sheridan
9 September 2021

The demand by a senior UN official that Australia should abolish its coal industry by 2030 shows how absurd and ridiculous the world body often is.

If any Australian government were foolish enough to follow this advice there would be a net increase in global greenhouse emissions and Australia would be very substantially poorer.

The Morrison government should reject this call much more publicly and explicitly than it has so far.

The UN’s assurance that no coal community should be left behind, and that alternative jobs should be found for them, is evidence of the fairies at the bottom of the garden thinking that the UN so often gives expression to, and that continues to characterise so much of the global waffle on climate change.

There is nothing inconsistent with Australia maintaining and expanding its coal industry, and still making a proportionate and reasonable contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, meeting and exceeding our Paris targets and further reducing emissions in years to come.

The sheer illogicality of the UN’s position is evident in the fact it would certainly drive up greenhouse gas emissions. This is based on the simple but intractable realities of coal.

Australia is typically the second biggest exporter of coal. But we are not the dominant producer of coal. Australia produces only about 6 per cent of the world’s coal. China produces about 50 per cent of coal globally.

Most nations that use coal have some coal of their own. Australia, with such a small population of 26 million, exports most of its coal. Our biggest coal export competitors are Indonesia, Russia, Colombia and South Africa.

In the event that we were self-destructive enough to abolish our coal industry, global coal use would not decline. Our export markets would be taken by Indonesia, Russia and so on. Countries such as China and India would be forced to use more of their own coal.

But Australian coal has a significantly higher calorific value than Indonesian, Chinese or Russian coal.

This means it produces more energy per tonne. You burn less coal to produce a kilowatt-hour of energy. Coal-fired power stations using Australian coal produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy than those using Indonesian, Chinese or most other coal.

This is simply geological happenstance. But it’s also reality. Therefore if we follow the UN’s diktat we increase carbon emissions globally and impoverish ourselves.

Between thermal coal and metallurgical coal we typically earn well over $40bn in coal export income every year. We derive billions upon billions of dollars in royalties and in the tax payments of the companies and their 40,000-odd employees. The idea that anything substitutes for this in the short term is nuts. In abolishing the coal industry we would slice a huge chunk out of our national wealth, making it much harder to pay for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Medicare, pensions, the massive debt we are accruing.

Our thermal coal goes to coal-fired power plants and our metallurgical coal is used to make steel. Both produce greenhouse emissions. The UN apparently wants us to abolish the lot.

None of the other big coal producers such as Indonesia, China and Russia will be influenced by the UN’s nonsense.

The idea that coal is on the way out globally just doesn’t square with any of the facts. Demand has certainly declined in North America and Europe. But as this column has frequently pointed out, China has commissioned more new coal-fired power than the entirety of the coal power sector in the US.

India, Indonesia and a swag of other developing countries throughout Asia and Africa have commissioned and are building hundreds of new coal-fired power stations. It’s not only developing nations. Japan, too, is producing new coal-fired power stations.

The Minerals Council of Australia and the advisory group Commodities Insights produce a useful publication, Commodity Demand Outlook 2030. Its analysis is based on the straightforward factors of what is the demand today and what is the approved capacity and most likely demand going forward. Its forecast is that the demand for imported coal will increase by just under a quarter between 2019 and 2030.

That’s right – increase by a quarter between 2019 and 2030.

That’s not inconsistent with the International Energy Agency’s prediction that overall global thermal coal use could decline a bit by 2040. If coal were really on the way out, as so many ABC commentators relentlessly proclaim, there would be no need to pressure Australia to abolish the industry by government diktat.

Similarly, if renewable energy were really remotely competitive in price terms there would be no need to subsidise it and force its use through regulatory compulsion. Similarly, the reluctance of Western banks to finance coal has not stopped profitable coal projects finding their capital from other sources.

There are hundreds of new coal-fired power plants under construction or approved in many different parts of the world. Developing countries, as well as nations such as Russia and China, are not going to take the slightest bit of notice of UN blather on these subjects. If you favour lower greenhouse gas emissions you should favour Australian coal.

The Morrison government did not answer the UN’s ridiculous demands. I think the Morrison government is trying to be too clever by half here, trying to finesse saying one thing to Joe Biden and Europe’s climate warriors and another thing to Australian coal communities.

This week was the eighth anniversary of Tony Abbott winning for the Coalition its biggest electoral victory since John Howard in 1996, and without which victory there would never have been Turnbull or Morrison governments. Abbott won that election by taking very strong positions. Why hasn’t the Morrison government forced Labor to choose either the UN or the Australian coal industry? The government can’t hide in the shadows on coal.

Former resources minister Matt Canavan tells me: “There is no climate rationale to shut down the highest quality coal in the world. We should be publicly pushing back against this crazy agenda. By being silent we are giving it implicit credibility.”

Modern coal-fired power stations, so-called critical and super critical stations, are much less carbon intensive than old coal-fired stations. They are getting close to gas. The Morrison government lost, and then gave up, the argument for coal stations in Australia. That means we have higher electricity prices than we should.

Worse, losing one argument just prepares you to lose the next argument. Handicapping our industry by not building smart hi-tech coal-fired power stations, as Malcolm Turnbull once proposed, is one thing. To lose the immense chunk of our national income tied up in our coal export industry is a whole new level of craziness.

But here’s the thing. You seldom win a battle if you won’t fight.

The Australian

Goodbye to Coal? Not so Fast!
John Hinderaker
7 September 2021

The obituary of coal as an energy source has been written many times, but rumors of coal’s death are premature, as two stories in the news show. In the U.K., Britain is forced to fire up coal plant amid record power prices and winter squeeze.

Like the U.S., Britain has been relying increasingly on wind power. Funny thing about that–it doesn’t work when the wind stops blowing.

Energy prices have spiked to a record high in Britain after calm weather shut down the country’s wind turbines amid a global shortage of natural gas.

Wholesale power costs surged to more than four times their normal level, forcing officials to fire up coal-based plants to handle demand.

It is feared the high prices will continue into winter as the weather gets colder, raising fears over household bills and putting a string of energy suppliers at risk of going bust.

A global natural gas shortage? The U.S. might do something about that, if we had an administration that was not determined to shut down one of our cleanest energy sources, along with nuclear power. More:

Electricity prices reached an all-time high of £240 per megawatt hour on Friday and were trading at £219.46 per MwH on the N2EX exchange on Monday morning.

The squeeze was worsened by a slump in wind output in the UK. It dropped as low as 474 megawatts, compared to a record of 14,286 megawatts on May 21, according to analysis by Bloomberg, as a three-day heatwave settled across much of England and Wales.

Wind now provides about 20pc of the UK’s electricity throughout the year, but this varies hugely day by day.

At 7pm this evening, real time data showed Britain was getting 45.6pc of its power from gas-fired turbines, 13.5pc from nuclear power plants, 5.5pc from wind and 12.3pc from interconnectors to the continent and Northern Ireland. 5.5pc was coming from coal.

National Grid ESO, which balances Great Britain’s power supply, asked EDF to switch on two coal-fired units at its West Burton A station this morning to help meet demand.

Coal has its faults, but unlike wind and solar, it is reliable and cheap.

Global demand for coal continues to grow, and Australia is a major exporter. A representative of the United Nations requested or demanded that Australia stop producing and selling coal. The government told the U.N. to pound sand.

A United Nations demand for Australia to accept coal’s days are numbered was comprehensively rejected Monday with a lawmaker in Canberra promising the future of the vital export and job creator will be “decided by the Australian Government, not a foreign body.”

“If the world does not rapidly phase out coal, climate change will wreak havoc right across the Australian economy: from agriculture to tourism, and right across the services sector,” [Selwin Hart, the U.N.’s assistant secretary-general and special adviser on climate action] said.

Australia’s Resources Minister Keith Pitt shot back by affirming coal would remain a significant contributor to the Australian economy well beyond 2030.

“The future of this crucial industry will be decided by the Australian Government, not a foreign body that wants to shut it down costing thousands of jobs and billions of export dollars for our economy,” Pitt said, according to the Australian Associated Press.

He pointed to three months to July that saw coal exports soar to $12.5 billion – a 26 per cent increase on the previous quarter – as evidence of just how vital the commodity remains to the Australian economy and the jobs that go with it, the AAP report said.

“Coal will continue to generate billions of dollars in royalties and taxes for state and federal governments, and directly employ over 50,000 Australians,” Pitt added, in a direct challenge to climate activists who join the U.N. in demanding Australia cease and desist the practice.

Support for “green” energy is a mile wide and an inch deep. Most people express favorable opinions of “green” energy, which is not surprising since the propaganda begins in kindergarten. But support for wind and solar evaporates quickly when energy prices triple or quadruple, and most of all, when blackouts begin.


Critical generation: Isogo Coal HELE Power Plant in Japan.


September 13, 2021