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The costs of most existing coal-fired power plants in the US are now more expensive than the total costs of wind and solar as a result of their plunging costs, according to a new study.

In other words, it is cheaper to install a wind or solar farm than it is to keep an existing coal plant running for a year. Case closed.

https://electrek.co/2021/05/06/coal-is-losing-the-price-war-...
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In other words, it is cheaper to install a wind or solar farm than it is to keep an existing coal plant running for a year. Case closed.

https://electrek.co/2021/05/06/coal-is-losing-the-price-war-......


Yup. Coal is dead. Has been for some time. Has nothing to do with pollution. It's more expensive than renewables. (some) Politics is trying to resuscitate it.

Petroleum is facing the same situation. Solar/wind plus batteries is getting cheaper while fossil fuels are getting more expensive.

CNC
... nuclear is in its death throes except for very special situations (such as aircraft carriers.)
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In other words, it is cheaper to install a wind or solar farm than it is to keep an existing coal plant running for a year. Case closed.

No it is not because your wind and solar power plants are not installing the required backup turbines needed to maintain a steady power supply to the grid when the wind is not blowing or when a cloud covers the sun.

Earlier this week China said they must use Coal because solar and wind are unstable:

"Because renewable energy (sources such as) wind and solar power are intermittent and unstable, we must rely on a stable power source... We have no other choice... coal is readily available, while renewable energy needs to develop further in China..." https://joannenova.com.au/2021/05/chinese-official-says-sola...

And Texas is still having problems with wind and solar:

Ercot on Wednesday warned that it was again anticipating tight grid conditions... The grid operator forecasted low wind and solar output for the day, while a forced power-plant outage in the Rio Grande Valley added to the large number of plants already down for maintenance. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/texas-nearly-went-dark-again-...


-=Ajax=-
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In other words, it is cheaper to install a wind or solar farm than it is to keep an existing coal plant running for a year. Case closed.

An yet for some reason they keep building coal plants in Asia. Are they stupid?

DB2
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An yet for some reason they keep building coal plants in Asia. Are they stupid?

DB2

==========================================

We need to keep watching the Asians because their plans for coal plants may not materialize.

China is the home of solar panels and they are building solar farms faster than ever.

China has more than three times as much solar energy as US.

China has more than twice as much wind energy as US.

Jaak
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An yet for some reason they keep building coal plants in Asia.
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We need to keep watching the Asians because their plans for coal plants may not materialize. China is the home of solar panels and they are building solar farms faster than ever.


The OP stated "In other words, it is cheaper to install a wind or solar farm than it is to keep an existing coal plant running for a year. Case closed."

The question remains -- if the case is closed, why are they building so many coal plants in developing countries? Do they not care about costs? One would think they would be more cost sensitive. Are their economic assumptions radically different? There must be some large differences lurking somewhere.

DB2
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The question remains -- if the case is closed, why are they building so many coal plants in developing countries? Do they not care about costs? One would think they would be more cost sensitive. Are their economic assumptions radically different? There must be some large differences lurking somewhere.

DB2

========================================

I think you are wrong about so many coal being built for the reasons below:

I do not see where you show any data on how many coal plants are in construction.

I do not see where you show any data on how much electricity production/consumption (MWhr) by coal fired plants is increasing.

Some coal fired plants are being abandoned and replaced by new coal fired plants that burn half as much coal for the same amount of electricity. But you do not show any data on this issue.

Many coal fired power plants are operating at 50% capacity in Asia, but you do not show any data on this issue.

Jaak
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The question remains -- if the case is closed, why are they building so many coal plants in developing countries?
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I do not see where you show any data on how many coal plants are in construction.


There have been numerous posts on this board about coal plants in construction or in planning. Here is one from last month:
Chinese cash funds African coal plant building despite environmental concerns
https://boards.fool.com/Post.aspx?mid=34825627&reply=tru...
China is continuing to fund coal-fired power plants across Africa despite increasing concern about their environmental impact. This month a state-owned company said it would step up efforts to get a major project in Zimbabwe back on track....Late last month the construction giant Sinohydro flew 223 employees to southern Africa....The Chinese government is funding up to 85 per cent of the project through the Exim Bank of China....Besides Zimbabwe, Chinese lenders are funding the construction of at least eight coal-fired power plants with a combined capacity of 6.4 gigawatts (GW) in South Africa and four others producing 3.2GW....Work has also started on a 350MW plant in Morocco, and projects in Ghana and Malawi are also under consideration.


In addition, here is a website with lots of data from around the world:
https://endcoal.org/global-coal-plant-tracker/
For example, new coal GW, 2019

China 48.8
India 8.6
Indonesia 3.0
Pakistan 2.0
South Africa 1.6
Philippines 1.5
Japan 1.2
Viet Nam 1.2

Some coal fired plants are being abandoned and replaced by new coal fired plants that burn half as much coal for the same amount of electricity. But you do not show any data on this issue.

Whatever kind of new coal plants they are building, it still brings up my question -- if the case is closed, why are they building coal plants? Either it is not "cheaper to install a wind or solar farm than it is to keep an existing coal plant running for a year" or they are using different economic assumptions. Or they are stupid crazy, but I don't think so.

DB2
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It looks as though the case isn't closed. So far, no one here has offered any reasons. Perhaps the Chinese will give us some clues.

China has ‘no other choice’ but to rely on coal power for now, official says
www.cnbc.com/2021/04/29/climate-china-has-no-other-choice-bu...
China has ambitious goals for cutting its carbon emissions, but it won’t be abandoning coal power anytime soon as it keeps its eye firmly on economic targets. President Xi Jinping said in September that the country’s carbon emissions would begin to decline by 2030....

In the meantime, policymakers are making clear that economic growth remains a top priority — and that growth depends largely on coal power....

“China’s energy structure is dominated by coal power. This is an objective reality,” said Su Wei, deputy secretary-general of the National Development and Reform Commission....“Because renewable energy (sources such as) wind and solar power are intermittent and unstable, we must rely on a stable power source,” Su said.

DB2
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This from wiki: China is the world's largest market for both photovoltaics and solar thermal energy. Since 2013 China has been the world's leading installer of solar photovoltaics (PV). In 2015, China became the world's largest producer of photovoltaic power, narrowly surpassing Germany.[1][2][3] In 2017 China was the first country to pass 100 GW of cumulative installed PV capacity

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_China

CNC
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India is also moving aggressively into solar.

Solar power in India is a fast developing industry. The country's solar installed capacity was 36.9 GW as of 30 November 2020.[2]

The Indian government had an initial target of 20 GW capacity for 2022, which was achieved four years ahead of schedule.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_India

CNC
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Just because China and India might be building some wind and solar farms doesn't mean they aren't also building more coal power plants. The economies of China and India are growing, and they need reliable power to fuel that growth. Wind and solar alone just aren't going to do it.

China's electricity mix:
https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics/data-browser?country...

India:
https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics/data-browser?country...

======================

The claim that wind and solar in the US are now cheaper than conventional sources of electricity is obviously false, because of the $ billions of federal, state and local subsidies still going to those industries. If the renewables were cost-effective, they wouldn't need all of that government money flowing into their pockets.

https://www.powermag.com/wind-and-solar-tax-credits-extended...

- Pete
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Whatever kind of new coal plants they are building, it still brings up my question -- if the case is closed, why are they building coal plants? Either it is not "cheaper to install a wind or solar farm than it is to keep an existing coal plant running for a year" or they are using different economic assumptions. Or they are stupid crazy, but I don't think so.

DB2

===================================================

You have been off topic for the last few posts. The "case is closed" for US coal fired power plants per the OP. You changed the subject to include Asian coal fired power plants. I humored you and showed that you are blowing smoke with the massive building of coal fired power plants in Asia. There is no data to show that there is massive building being done in Asia. I agree that there are massive plans - but limited building. That is the way Asian countries work.

Remember the two hundred nuclear plants that Pete, you and American nuclear industry kept saying that the Asian countries will build because their 5 and 10 year plans said so. Well those plans were abandoned.

The same is happening to coal fired power plants. Their plans are being abandoned.

Jaak
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The claim that wind and solar in the US are now cheaper than conventional sources of electricity is obviously false, because of the $ billions of federal, state and local subsidies still going to those industries. If the renewables were cost-effective, they wouldn't need all of that government money flowing into their pockets.

Pete

============================================

You are changing the subject from coal fired power plants to conventional power plants. I guess you knew that you could not defend coal fired power plants so you wanted to move the goal posts.

The federal, state and local governments provide subsidies for renewables because the public wants clean energy. They do not want coal fired power plants any longer. Even so some states still provide subsidies to coal fired power plants.

Therefore, the OP claim is valid!

Jaak
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You have been off topic for the last few posts. The "case is closed" for US coal fired power plants per the OP. You changed the subject to include Asian coal fired power plants. I humored you....

Thanks for humoring me. The question then is, why is the case closed for US coal plants but not for developing countries? Why are the economics different?

There is no data to show that there is massive building being done in Asia.

The Coal Plant Tracker website which I linked shows over 67GW of newly operating coal plants in 2019 in developing countries. Coal plants are not free, so those countries had to decide to spend the money for coal plants. What are the differences that lead them to do that?

DB2
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The The Coal Plant Tracker website which I linked shows over 67GW of newly operating coal plants in 2019 in developing countries. Coal plants are not free, so those countries had to decide to spend the money for coal plants. What are the differences that lead them to do that?

DB2 which I linked shows over 67GW of newly operating coal plants in 2019 in developing countries. Coal plants are not free, so those countries had to decide to spend the money for coal plants. What are the differences that lead them to do that?

DB2

===============================================================

Look at The Coal Plant Tracker website showing that China has

Operating: 1,042,947 MW
Construction: 88,130 MW
Shelved: 38,755 MW

Cancelled 2010-2020: 609,742 MW
Retired 2000-2020: 111,869 MW

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1mDLafuvyiLYezFmV6VXE...

This shows that China's construction is not a big as you claim. The big numbers are all the cancelled and retired coal fire power plants.

Jaak
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Look at The Coal Plant Tracker website showing that China has...

The website shows that developing countries had over 67GW of new coal in one year alone, 2019. Whether this is new capacity or replacement is not my question. My question is, what leads them to spend money on coal plants if they are uneconomical? Or do they make economic sense?

It is okay to say you don't know.

DB2
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The website shows that developing countries had over 67GW of new coal in one year alone, 2019. Whether this is new capacity or replacement is not my question. My question is, what leads them to spend money on coal plants if they are uneconomical? Or do they make economic sense?


There are probably multiple reasons for the ongoing construction of new coal plants. Here are few ideas, some of which are certain, others less so.

1) The negative externalities of coal are not priced into the cost of coal power, nor are they regulated. Smog-forming, acid rain-causing and toxic air pollution from coal plants are the biggest negative externalities of burning coal, killing millions of people every year, sickening many, many more (probably over a billion affected with at least minor illness) and causing massive environmental damage. There are also water pollution, soil pollution, and ecosystem destruction that come along coal mining, burning, waste disposal. In a country that neither regulates nor prices the negative externalities, coal power may appear to be the cheapest available power.

2) Inertia: people and societies tend to do what they've done before unless they are caused to change. For many decades, the path to bringing power to developing countries has been primarily to build coal plants and there are lots of institutions and individuals that know and are comfortable with that route, but do not know and are not comfortable with building a reliable grid incorporating a lot of wind and solar.

3) Political and economic power of the people and institutions that have a vested interest in continuing the reliance on coal power. Fossil fuel companies that maybe some of the biggest most powerful institutions operating in a developing country aren't going to be interested in undermining their own power and economic interests by considering renewable energy. Same goes for many individuals and political players, so that even if transitioning to renewables was a clear winner for a country, objectively speaking, they won't transition if the power players don't let it happen.

Those are the biggest I can think of at the moment.
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3) Political and economic power of the people and institutions that have a vested interest in continuing the reliance on coal power. Fossil fuel companies that maybe some of the biggest most powerful institutions operating in a developing country aren't going to be interested in undermining their own power and economic interests by considering renewable energy. Same goes for many individuals and political players, so that even if transitioning to renewables was a clear winner for a country, objectively speaking, they won't transition if the power players don't let it happen.

Those are the biggest I can think of at the moment. - BenSolar


----------------------------------

4) Citizens too often seeing waste, corruption, broken promises, unseen agendas and impacts of unforeseen consequences are skeptical of giving government vastly more authority over their lives, not unlike the resistance to a single payer medical system that many think is just groovy.
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There are probably multiple reasons for the ongoing construction of new coal plants. Here are few ideas, some of which are certain, others less so....

Thanks, Ben. I would also add what the Chinese told us:

“Because renewable energy wind and solar power are intermittent and unstable, we must rely on a stable power source,” Su said.

DB2
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There are probably multiple reasons for the ongoing construction of new coal plants. Here are few ideas, some of which are certain, others less so.

2) Inertia: people and societies tend to do what they've done before...

---------------------------

Related to #2 is the availability of resources and existing infrastructure.

In the US, cheap natural gas is the largest reason why coal consumption has been in decline. Renewables have not been as important as the increase in gas production due to the fracking technologies. Also, natural gas is often removed from the same fields as petroleum, and many of the companies will remove both oil and gas from the same area. The oil and gas industry is larger in the US than either China or India. Below are some production numbers for oil, gas and coal, from the BP database for 2019.

https://www.bp.com/content/dam/bp/business-sites/en/global/c...

Oil production, million tonnes
USA 746.7
China 191.0
India 37.5

Natural gas production, exajoules
USA 33.15
China 6.39
India 0.97

Coal production, exajoules
USA 14.30
China 79.82
India 12.73

US utilities can read the writing on the wall. They know that coal's days are numbered because of increasing regulations, so it is beneficial for them to switch over to natural gas, so long as gas is cheap. Perhaps one day, because of the quick depletion rates of fracked gas wells, maybe gas won't be quite so cheap in the future. Nuclear might then get a more serious look. You can try to deny it, but baseload power is an important part of a reliable electrical grid.

In the mean time, China and India will continue burning coal, lots of coal, and the atmospheric CO2 concentration will just keep rising.

- Pete
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I would also add what the Chinese told us:

“Because renewable energy wind and solar power are intermittent and unstable, we must rely on a stable power source,” Su said.

DB2


Interesting comment from the people leading the charge in battery storage.

CNC
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I agree with Ben and would add another reason for the rise of coal in 2019.

4) The election of Trump in 2016 gave cover for China, India and other developing countries to not follow prior international commitments for reduction of coal burning power plants. They watched as Trump abandoned Clean Power Plan and withdrew from Paris Agreement. Trump claimed that the war on coal was going to end during his administration.

Trump has been shown to be wrong. Now US is trying to recover from Trump's wreckage of US leadership on reducing coal fired power generation. Now US is working on new agreements with China, India and other developing countries to reducing coal fired power generation.

Jaak
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Thanks, Ben. I would also add what the Chinese told us:

“Because renewable energy wind and solar power are intermittent and unstable, we must rely on a stable power source,” Su said.

DB2

==========================================

That is a bunch of bull. China has so much coal, nat gas, hydro, nuclear and biomass generation that wind and solar have not caused any instability or reliability issues to date and will not cause any concerns for a long time.

Jaak
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“Because renewable energy wind and solar power are intermittent and unstable, we must rely on a stable power source,” Su said.
---
That is a bunch of bull.


So, why do you think the Chinese Secretary-General of National Development is lying to you?

DB2
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So, why do you think the Chinese Secretary-General of National Development is lying to you?

DB2

===============================================================

He is lying to you because he wants to continue to burn coal!

Jaak
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Li said that coal accounted for 56.8% of China’s domestic energy generation in 2020, down from 72.4% 15 years ago. As of last year, China was the world’s heaviest emitter of carbon dioxide, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a non-profit founded at MIT. The United States was second, and India was third.

During last week’s climate summit, Xi called for international cooperation in reducing carbon emissions, adding that different countries should play different roles in that reduction. He did not identify any countries by name.

Xi said China would “strictly control coal-fired generation projects” and limit increases in coal consumption over the next five years. He said reductions would take place in the five years following that.

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/29/climate-china-has-no-other-c...

Jaak
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China is also the leading supplier of solar panels and battery storage.

CNC
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So, why do you think the Chinese Secretary-General of National Development is lying to you?
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He is lying to you because he wants to continue to burn coal!


And he wants to burn coal because...?

DB2
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And he wants to burn coal because...?

DB2

===================================================

Because Chinese can not build hydro and nuclear power as fast and as cheap to match their need for electricity.

China's power year on year power generation increase from 2019 to 2020
Hydro power: 4.1%
Thermal power: 2.5% (coal, oil and natural gas)
Nuclear power: 5.0%
Wind power: 15.1%
Solar power: 16.6%

https://chinaenergyportal.org/en/2020-electricity-other-ener...

Jaak
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"China’s energy structure is dominated by coal power. This is an objective reality," said Su Wei, deputy secretary-general... "Because renewable energy (sources such as) wind and solar power are intermittent and unstable, we must rely on a stable power source," Su said. "We have no other choice. For a period of time, we may need to use coal power as a point of flexible adjustment." https://joannenova.com.au/2021/05/chinese-official-says-sola...

That is a bunch of bull. China has so much coal, nat gas, hydro, nuclear and biomass generation that wind and solar have not caused any instability or reliability issues to date and will not cause any concerns for a long time. Jaak

This "is a bunch of bull" because what? You know more about this topic than the Chinese government that is building all these coal-fired power plants?


-=Ajax=-
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Asia snubs IEA's call to stop new fossil fuel investments
www.reuters.com/business/energy/asia-snubs-ieas-call-stop-ne...
Asian energy officials on Wednesday disputed the International Energy Agency's (IEA) call for no new oil, natural gas and coal investments for the world to be able to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, viewing that approach as too narrow....

Akihisa Matsuda, the deputy director of international affairs at Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), said the government has no plans to immediately stop oil, gas and coal investments...."Japan needs to protect its energy security including a stable supply of electricity, so we will balance this with our goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050."....

In the Philippines, where coal is set to be the dominant power source for years even after a ban on new coal plant proposals, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said the energy transition should be "fuel and technology-neutral". Cutting finance for oil, gas and coal without considering efficiency and competitiveness would "set back the Philippines' aspiration to join the ranks of upper middle-income countries," he said.

DB2
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https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/asia-snubs-ieas-call...
Akihisa Matsuda, the deputy director of international affairs at Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), said the government has no plans to immediately stop oil, gas and coal investments...."Japan needs to protect its energy security including a stable supply of electricity, so we will balance this with our goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050."....

------------------------------

From the BP database, the Asia-Pacific region (including India) consumed 122.22 Exajoules (EJ) of energy from coal in 2019. That year, the rest of the world consumed 35.64 EJ.

Asia: 122.22 EJ from coal
Rest of the World: 35.64 EJ from coal


Coal consumption in North America and Europe is going down, while coal consumption in Asia is going up. But North America is making up for its decline in coal by increasing its consumption of natural gas. (Don't tell anybody, that's a fossil fuel, too!) Natural gas consumption is also going up in Asia, along with consumption of oil.

Anyone talking about setting a goal to be carbon neutral by 2050 are just speaking empty words with no real commitment at all. It sounds like that Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Europe will be going through, after all, with blessings from Joe Biden.

- Pete
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Anyone talking about setting a goal to be carbon neutral by 2050 are just speaking empty words with no real commitment at all. It sounds like that Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Europe will be going through, after all, with blessings from Joe Biden.

- Pete

==================================================

Who is talking about carbon neutrality by 2050. China is claiming 2060.

Natural gas is the bridge fuel from coal to renewables. Nothing new in having natural gas kill off coal ASAP. It just takes time to build more natural gas power plants, solar and wind farms, other renewables, and batteries. Another big part of carbon neutrality is energy efficiency improvements for industry, buildings, and transportation.

So concentrating on natural gas is rather silly at this time. Come back in 2030 and start complaining.

Jaak
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