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Guest “Rage, rage against the dying of the light” by David Middleton

Note: Except for Rudyard Kipling, I don’t like poetry, especially Dylan Thomas. It’s just that I’ve just seen Rodney Dangerfield’s Back to School a few dozen times and his recital of Do not go gentle into that good night is fracking hilarious!

This is great news for those of us who think as highly of “climate campaigners” as we do poets:

China’s coal production hit record levels in 2021

In blow to climate campaigners, state encourages miners to ramp up output to avert winter gas crisis

Jillian Ambrose
Mon 17 Jan 2022

China’s coal production reached record levels last year as the state encouraged miners to ramp up their fossil fuel output to safeguard the country’s energy supplies through the winter gas crisis.

The world’s biggest coal producer and consumer mined 384.67m tonnes of the fossil fuel last month, easily topping its previous record of 370.84m tonnes set in November, after the government called for miners to work at maximum capacity to help fuel the country’s economic growth.

Official government figures show that China’s coal binge also spurred the country to record high coal output over the year as a whole. Chinese coal production climbed to an all-time high of 4.07bn tonnes, up 4.7% on the previous year, in a blow to climate campaigners’ months after the UN’s Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow.


The Grauniad

Peak Coal… Bwahaha!

Stacked Area Plot
BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2021

Scatter Plot
BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2021

The good news isn’t limited to Asia

As coal use surges, America finds it’s hard to unplug from carbon

So much for the myriad claims about going “beyond coal.” According to a new report from the Rhodium Group, U.S. coal consumption jumped by 17 percent last year compared to 2020 levels. That’s a huge increase, which Rhodium says was “largely driven by a run-up in natural gas prices.” Rather than burn gas, which averaged about $4.93 per million Btu last year — more than two times the price in 2020 — many electricity producers chose to burn coal instead.

The surge in domestic coal use is significant for two reasons. First, it proves again that coal remains an essential fuel for electricity producers both here in the U.S. and around the world. Second, it shows that the Biden administration’s pledge to decarbonize the electric grid by 2035 is little more than wishful thinking.

Hate coal if it makes you happy, but the reality is that power producers have relied on it ever since Thomas Edison used it to fuel the world’s first central power plant in Lower Manhattan in 1882. Indeed, the jump in domestic consumption is part of a surge in global demand for coal, which still accounts for about 36 percent of global electricity generation.


While Asian countries account for the biggest share of global coal use — China alone uses more than half the world’s coal — the Iron Law of Electricity also applies to Europe and Japan. During the third quarter of 2021, coal’s share of Germany’s electricity mix increased by 5.5 percent over the same period in 2020. That increase was due, in part, to lower production from the country’s wind-energy sector. France, which usually gets about 70 percent of its electricity from nuclear plants, is also considering burning more coal to replace some of the juice that it was getting from several reactors that have been shut down for repairs. Meanwhile, Japan is planning to build some 21 coal-fired power plants with a total capacity of more than 12,000 megawatts over the next decade or so.


In short, it’s easy for politicians and climate activists to vilify hydrocarbons, hype renewables, and talk about quitting coal. But as the Rhodium Group’s report makes clear, economics matter. The U.S. and other countries aren’t going to suddenly quit using coal (or natural gas) to produce electricity because doing so would be too expensive.

I’ll end by making the same point I have been making for more than a decade: If policymakers are serious about decarbonizing the electric grid, they need to get serious about nuclear energy. And they need to do so now.

Robert Bryce is the host of the “Power Hungry Podcast,” co-producer of the documentary, “Juice: How Electricity Explains the World,” and the author of six books, including most recently, “A Question of Power: Electricity and the Wealth of Nations.” Follow him on Twitter @pwrhungry.

The Hill

From the Rhodium Group report:

Coal’s comeback

The electric power sector, which accounts for 28% of net US emissions, saw the second largest increase in GHG emissions from 2020 levels. In 2021, emissions increased 6% (95 million metric tons CO2e) above 2020 levels (Figure 2). Despite the bounce back from 2020, emissions remained 4% lower than 2019 levels.

With only modest growth in overall electric power demand in 2021 (up 3% from 2020), the more robust growth in power sector GHG emissions was due to a sharp rise in coal generation, jumping 17% in 2021. This marks the first annual increase in coal generation since 2014, according to the US Energy Information Administration (Figure 4).

Coal’s rebound was driven largely by a run-up in natural gas prices, with Henry Hub spot prices averaging $4.93 per million Btu in 2021, or more than double their 2020 rate. Prices rose as oil and gas producers ramped down new production in 2021 in response to the COVID oil price collapse and ensuing slow growth in demand. High natural gas prices made gas-fired generation less economical in 2021, leading to a 3% decline in gas generation in 2021, dropping gas’s share of overall generation back down to 37% (Figure 5). Renewables continued their growth in 2021, with generation rising 4% (about half the rate of renewables growth in 2020), reaching 20% of US electricity generation for the first time.

Preliminary US Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimates for 2021

Figures 4 & 5 from the Rhodium Group report:

The EIA actually described the above as “New renewable power plants are reducing U.S. electricity generation from natural gas“…

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook, January 2022

A quick dive into the STEO Data Browser demonstrates that, to the extent unreliable power sources are replacing anything, they are replacing reliable coal-fired power plants. The drop in natural gas-fired electricity generation in 2021 was due to high gas prices and increased utilization of existing coal-fired power plants.


According to the EIA’s 2021 International Energy Outlook almost all of the growth in electricity generation over the next 30 years will come from unreliable energy sources. However, Non-OECD nations will add as much reliable generation as OECD nations will take offline. The EIA projects that the world will generate just as much electricity from coal in 2050 as it did in 2010.

Old King Coal is not going “gentle into that good night” … Right Rodney?

Also… If I offended any poets with this post…

via Watts Up With That?

January 20, 2022