JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Secret coal boom in China. Photos show massive construction at “closed” plants. Death of Coal is FakeNews.

China said it would stop coal power construction, but CoalSwarm activists have caught it restarting construction at many plants it said it would close. It’s a tsunami of coal plants according to EndCoal. We’re talking about new capacity of 259GW, equivalent to the entire US coal fleet or more than ten times the total Australian coal fleet (23GW).

China said it was done with these coal plants. Satellite imagery shows otherwise. By Nathanael Johnson on Sep 25, 2018 Newly released satellite photos appear to show continuing construction of coal plants that China said it was cancelling last year, according to CoalSwarm. In January 2017, China announced that it was canceling more than 100 coal plants across 13 provinces. At the time, a researcher familiar with Chinese politics said that regional officials might try to skirt the central government’s order.

The Huadian Plant was suspended in Jan 2017, but look at those cooling towers…. (Slide the centre line left and right).

Satellite imagery from Planet, February 2017 to March 2018, shows construction clearly ongoing at the plant.

Matt McGrath, BBC News

Building work has restarted at hundreds of Chinese coal-fired power stations, according to an analysis of satellite imagery.

[...]

40 year old coal plant sold for $1m makes $100m profit and will run another 30 years

Old coal plants don’t have to die, they just need to be fixed

Vales Point, Power Station, NSW, Australia

The Vales Point Coal plant (Part B) was built in 1978. It was sold for $1 million in 2015 by the NSW government. It’s now making a bumper profit. If it gets a $750 million renovation it could keep running til 2049 when it will be 70 years old. Vales has a nameplate capacity of 1,320 MW.

On the other hand, we could follow South Australia and spend $650m and get a 150MW solar plant that only works half the time.*

When is an old coal plant on death’s door a better bet than the worlds largest solar plant? — Every hour of every day. Plus you get free fertilizer.

Profits to keep Vales Point coal-fired power station going for another 20 years

John Stensholt and Perry Williams, The Australian

The Vales Point power station near Lake Macquarie, which supplies about 4 per cent of power for the national grid, could receive a $750m injection to ensure it runs until 2049, making it the nation’s last standing coal station, with the country’s other facilities due to [...]

On the NEG — Turnbull, Frydenberg: Who is running this country? You or Andrew Vesey?

End the taboo: The obvious solution to our expensive unreliable electricity is to fix old coal plants

The proposed NEG (National Energy Guarantee) will cut a pathetic sliver off our obscene bills. Malcolm Turnbull thinks Australians will be grateful for $100 off. We pay $3,700 a year for an average 4 bed house (and it’s heated with gas)?  Are they kidding?

No one is even discussing the most obvious, cheap way to cut our electricity bills. Fix the old coal plants. As Ian Waters, engineer, says “Enlightened, motivated people can do it!” Just getting Liddell back up to full power would deliver another 800MW of cheap, despatchable, and reliable power. Wouldn’t that be “handy”?

All the talk of new coal ignores the cheapest source of electricity around the nation. Our star infrastructure, gift of the older generation to the younger, are our old coal power stations, paid off over decades and still powering the nation.

Ian Waters, describes below how the NEG serves the big retailers not the consumers, and it’s in their interest to run old coal plants into the dust. (Our electricity market is so screwed thanks to the RET. [...]

Turnbull to consider new Coal power in Australia (ten years too late)

Last week only fringe loonies who were clinging to a dead technology were calling for a coal revival (mock mock mock). But now that the ACCC has spent months investigating and 400 pages reporting, they discovered that Tony Abbott and Craig Kelly and the Monash group were, hey, all right all along.

This is Turnbulls get-out-of-jail card, if he used it as an excuse to be sensible. He has in the past taken those cards and set fire to them. In a best case, he might, with arm twisted in a one-spare-seat-government, “build new coal” sometime in the far distant future, but whatever he does he won’t do anything other than minor hand waving about the Crony Green-Theft runaway train profits.

Turnbull weighs coal fix for energy wars

Simon Benson and Ben Packham, The Australian

A proposal for the federal government to financially guarantee the construction and operation of new dispatchable power generation, which could include clean coal-fired plants, is expected to be taken to cabinet with the backing of the Prime Minister.

Malcolm Turnbull yesterday confirmed he would seriously consider the key recommendation of a report by the competition watchdog to underwrite and [...]

Coal, a dying industry, just became Australia’s number one export (again)

Coal is a dying industry, but luckily for the Australian economy, the rest of the world is not as smart as The Australian Greens and Labor Party and they are still buying it.

Coal is set to regain its spot as the nation’s biggest export earner amid higher prices and surging demand from Asia, sparking fresh calls from the Turnbull government for Labor to end its “war on coal”.

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science figures show total coal exports are forecast to reach $58.1 billion in 2018-19, overtaking iron ore ($57.7bn) for the first time in ­almost a decade.

We’ve only got 300 years of these kind of coal profits to go.

The big question, do we open up more coal mines now and rake in the dough, or try to make the weather nicer in one thousand years time? Tricky…

Resources Minister Matthew Canavan said new export forecasts strengthened the investment case for Adani’s proposed $16.5 billion Carmichael coalmine and the development of Queensland’s Galilee Basin, which federal Labor has opposed. “Opening up the Galilee would generate 16,000 direct mining jobs and tens of billions in taxes.”

What do Australia’s big [...]

Renewables Fail: fossil fuels, coal, same dominance of our energy mix as 20 years ago

Despite 20 years of non-stop propaganda and belligerent namecalling, strangely, expert green policies have achieved exactly nothing of what they said they aimed for. Coal provided 38% of our power in 1998 and it is still the same 38% in 2017. The non-fossil fuel sector has actually declined slightly as nukes decrease.

We spent billions doing exactly what was asked. Perhaps following the advice of people who think the debate is over and “denier” is a scientific term might not be the best national energy policy?

Fuel shares in global power generation for the last 20 years  |  BP Energy Review, 2018.

Long-term dominance of fossil fuels unchallenged

Graham Lloyd, The Australian

Global demand for coal and gas to generate electricity was back on the rise last year …

Most striking had been the failure of renewable energy to make an impact on the fossil fuels share of power generation, BP group chief economist Spencer Dale said.

“Despite the extraordinary (global) growth in renewables in recent years, and the huge policy efforts to encourage a shift away from coal into cleaner, lower carbon fuels, there has been almost no improvement in [...]

Energy Crisis: NSW can’t keep coal plants, or aluminium smelters running, prices hit $14,000MW/hr

It’s not even summer.

NSW has been hit by clouds and a lack of reliable coal power. Prices are soaring.  In NSW the Tomago Aluminium Smelter consumes about 10% of the state’s electricity. It has been forced to switch off three times in the last week because there was not enough reserve power on the grid.

The boss of Tomago, Mr Howell, said Australia is “at a crisis point with our energy system”. 

“This is not summer with extreme demand. This is the likely future of our energy grid as once reliable baseload generators exit the [NEM] and are mostly replaced with intermittent wind and solar projects with no practical storage to speak of,” Mr Howell said. “Our energy debate should not advocate either renewables or conventional thermal,” he said.

– SMH, Peter Hannam,

Aluminum pot lines can only sit idle for a few hours before they cool too far and the damage becomes permanent and wildly expensive as the aluminum becomes solid.

Renewables-fans blame the emergency on the unreliability of coal

See @TheAustraliaInstitute. Suddenly Australia is the only western nation on Earth with coal resources that can’t [...]

Global Patsy Australia — largest coal exporter in world — still has 300 years of coal left

Australia must surely be The Global Patsy Is any country acting so decisively against its own interests?

Last chance to book for the Friedman conference! I’ll be speaking with Ian Plimer next weekend. It’s a great line up of speakers on May 25-27, or come for the Gala dinner. Get a 10% discount with the code Nova18. Bookings close this Sunday.

We, the Global Crash Test Dummies of Renewable Energy, have the fourth largest known reserves of coal in the world. We have so much coal we can keep digging it up at the current rate for the next 294 years (assuming we don’t discover more, which we will)1. If we didn’t export three quarters of our coal, but used it all ourselves, it could power Australia for the next 1,000 years. (But we’d miss the money– better to sell the stuff before nukes make it worthless).

We have so much more coal than we need, most years we are the world’s largest exporter of coal.[2] Indeed, Australia contributes fully one third of the entire global coal export trade. (Three other countries, China, India and the US — dig up more than we do, but they use it themselves.)

[...]

Burn coal not wood if you care about the climate

Go Coal. Wood-fired electricity produces *more* CO2 for the next hundred years…

h/t NoTricksZone

Any day now the giant tree-eating-machine called Drax will be shifting back to coal as Greens and politicians realize they’ve made a planet killing mistake. Lordy! At the moment, Drax is supposed to be saving the world and making electricity for the UK by burning trees cut down and shipped from the US.

This temple to carbon neutrality happens to be the largest plant in the UK . It generates about 7% of all the megawatts used there. But a new study by Sterman et al, suggests the Drax plan is backfiring badly.

When is carbon neutrality not neutral? When the carbon debt is not paid off in our lifetimes…

Burning forests instead of coal deposits raises CO2, and in so many ways: Wood is a less efficient fuel. Megawatt for megawatt, wood produces more CO2 than coal. In terms of efficiencies, the combustion efficiency of wood is 25% compared to coal at 35%. Processing losses to supply wood are around 27%, while losses to supply coal are 11%. (NEA 2011, IEA 2016, Roder 2015) This is the slow road to carbon neutrality. It takes [...]

Gamechanger: Chinese Crypto Miners can get 8c cheap electricity in Australia using our coal power

Wow. Wait til word gets out. This is dynamite.

Chinese Bitcoin miners are reopening the Hunter Valley coal power station called Redbank in NSW. They have a deal that gets around our gargantuan, mismanaged grid by buying coal power direct for 8c/kWh, while Australians in the same place pay 28c/kWh.

This is exactly the nightmare the head of the Australian Energy Management Organisation (AEMO) spoke of just last week — that “big players could abandon the grid”. That’s a degenerate spiral leaving a shrinking pool of suckers to pay for the inefficient, bird-killing, blackout prone, witchdoctor grid.

Bitcoin mining’s growing demand for cheap energy revived a shuttered coal mine

Ashat Rathi, Quartz

Consumers there pay, on average, $A0.28 ($0.22) per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for electricity. But Hunter Energy, which owns Redbank, are offering the crypto miners electricity at a fraction of the cost. The “first-of-its-kind” deal, as the Age puts it, will see the crypto miners pay only A$0.08 per kWh in the day and A$0.05 per kWh at night. Hunter Energy told the Age that the price is feasible because the electricity produced at the coal power plant would go straight to the crypto miners, bypassing—and thus, presumably, [...]

In a fake free market 2000MW = 1000MW and Liddell coal is worth more destroyed than sold

The Australian Fake Free market is so screwed. What asset is worth more in the trash-can than sold to a willing bidder?

Everyone is talking about Liddell. The old coal plant is on the chopping block in 2022 and we can see the electricity price rise coming from here.

People in Australia are going without their veggies to pay for electricity. Liddell coal plant makes cheap electricity (like old coal plants everywhere). This is a problem that would solve itself if not for Malcolm Turnbull, the RET, and the AEMO. It takes a lot of money and whole fleets of bureaucrats to stop the free market fixing this by default.

AGL is the largest coal-fired producer in Australia, but it’s also the largest generator in toto and the largest  investor in renewable energy on the Australian Stock Exchange. Spot the conflict of interest? The company controls 30% of the generation in our two largest states, and 40% in South Australia. The man in charge of AGL – Andy Vesey –  formerly of New York, earns $6.9 million a year, and can probably afford to pay his own electricity bill. But as Tony Cox points out, he has surrounded himself with Gore-trainees [...]

Love those 30 year old coal and nuclear plants — nothing gives cheaper electricity

The gold-plated stars of our national grid are the old coal plants we’ve built and paid off.

A US report (thanks Lance) shows how fantastically cheap and bountiful old coal and nuclear plants are. The LCOE or the Levelized Cost of Electricity includes the costs of the concrete, turbines, car parks and coal, plus the maintenance and salaries. It reveals that thirty year old, and even fifty year old coal plants, are the gift from past generations — enormous infrastructure, built and paid for, and ready to churn out bargain electrons. Or in crazy-land, ready to be blown up.

Look how long it takes to pay off the capital cost of building them (the red sector in the graph), and look how wonderfully cheap that electricity is from a 30 year old plant. Watch the pea. All those “investigative news stories” that compare the cost of building new coal to the cost of solar or wind are hiding the most brilliant and essential assets on our grid. Reopen Hazelwood now. (!)

Both sides of politics are choosing to destroy the family jewels in the hope of controlling global weather.

….

From the report by Stacy and Taylor, of the [...]

Surprise: Australia closed a cheap coal generator and electricity got 85% more expensive

Last year one of our largest coal power plants suddenly closed, with only five months warning, catching the market by surprise and taking out 5% of our cheapest generation. (This kind of improbable anti-free-market feat shows just how screwed our national market is). The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has looked at the effect the closure of Hazelwood had on electricity prices and concluded that closing cheap brown-coal plants and replacing them with black coal and gas will make electricity prices rise. This will come as no surprise to anyone who can count to 100.

Dan Harrison at the ABC reports:

A year on from the closure of the 1600 megawatt-sized plant in the Latrobe Valley, the report from the Australian Energy Regulator found wholesale prices in Victoria were up 85 per cent on 2016.

Because electricity retailers use hedging for wholesale prices, the rise in retail prices is still feeding through. In the wash, the wholesale increase is expected to add 16% to retail prices this financial year compared to last year. After that, through some miracle, the AEMC expects prices to come back down from Exorbitant to Slightly Lower Than Exorbitant in the next two years thanks to an [...]

South Australia blows up cheap electricity, jobs, wealth, in ideological anti-coal quest

Today the South Australian government destroyed the smoke stack of the Playford B Plant, one more part of what’s left of the cheapest base-load electricity generators in the state.

For about $8 million a year over three years, they could have kept some coal power going and wouldn’t have needed to spend $400 million on emergency diesel generators they don’t want to use, and over $100 million on a battery that can supply 4% of the state for one hour. They also would’ve paid less than $120 million for two days of electricity last week.

On the upside, they can feel good and pretend to be “world leaders”. Virtue signalling is expensive, eh?

….

The plant employed 185 people, the coal mine 200. Other businesses in the town, who knows? People are leaving.

SA, a star in the race away from being a competitive, powerhouse rich state. Creating wealth and jobs in China.

Last South Australian coal-fired power station demolition nears completion

The Australian, Luke Griffiths:

The concrete and brick structure at the 240MW Playford B power station, named after long-serving South Australian premier Sir Thomas Playford and mothballed in 2012, leaves only [...]

Peak heat: Electricity prices lifting off; industry shutting off in Australia. Hospitals switching off lights, “Code Yellow Alert”.

UPDATE: MELBOURNE hospitals are enacting emergency procedures to prepare for the potential loss of power. Hospitals are switching off non-essential electrical equipment, including some lights, to minimize energy use. This is a “Code Yellow” alert asking hospitals to check their back up generators are ready.  The Victorian Minister insists this is not about the “threat” of blackouts, but because hospitals need to be “good corporate citizens”. Pull the other one. At the very least, this is about reducing electricity bills.   h/t Chris in Hervey Bay.

See further UPDATES on “The art of blaming coal” at the bottom.

How much fun can you have? The AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator) projects that as temperatures hit 42C in Victoria, prices are forecast to rise over 100 fold. The AEMO is furiously busy issuing market notices.

The ABC tells us it is 42C, that Portland Alumina has reduced production, but for an ‘undisclosed price’ (why can’t taxpayers know what they are paying this group, not to produce aluminium today?) Meanwhile the AEMO has put the RERT plan into action: “Under the RERT scheme, AEMO has contracted 884 megawatts of “demand side response” across Victoria, NSW and South Australia.” [...]