http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/powerlineblog/livefeed/~3/dMlaVAjinLQ/goodbye-to-coal-not-so-fast.php

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 practive.

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.

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