Energy Realities

Like Joe Biden, I didn’t pay attention to the G-7 meeting. (Heh.) Who needed to follow it when you knew that its chief product would be the brave declaration that we’ll all be “carbon-neutral” by 2050. The only thing missing was one of these clowns holding up the piece of paper saying, “I give you [climate] peace in our time.”

Let’s check in on some actual energy news:

 G7 Nations Invest More In Fossil Fuels Than Clean Energy Despite Pledges

The G7 nations have been pumping more in fossil fuels than in clean energy since the start of the pandemic, despite headline-grabbing pledges for ‘building back greener’, a new report found on Wednesday. . .

The Group of Seven most industrialized nations—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the U.S.—committed between January 2020 and March 2021 more than US$189 billion to support coal, oil, and gas, while clean forms of energy received only $147 billion, the analysis showed.

• Global fossil fuel use similar to decade ago in energy mix, report says

The share of fossil fuels in the world’s total energy mix is as high as a decade ago, despite the falling cost of renewables and pressure on governments to act on climate change, a report by green energy policy network REN21 showed on Tuesday.

 Asia coal prices surge

Thermal coal prices across Asia have surged to multi-year highs amid strong demand and some supply constraints, but some types of the fuel have done better than others.

 Asia snubs IEA’s call to stop new fossil fuel investments

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.

China economic blueprint signals more coal investment

China will invest more in coal to power its economy over the next five years, according to a government plan released Friday that only modestly increased renewable ambitions.

Europe turns to coal-fired generation as gas prices rise

Europe is so short of natural gas that the continent — usually seen as the poster child for the global fight against emissions — is turning to coal to meet electricity demand that is now back to pre-pandemic levels.

Coal usage in the continent jumped 10% to 15% this year after a colder- and longer-than-usual winter left gas storage sites depleted. . .

The return of coal is a setback for Europe ahead of the climate talks in Glasgow later this year. Leaders of the world’s biggest economies failed to set a firm date to end coal burning at the meeting of the Group of Seven at the weekend in Cornwall, U.K.

 World’s coal producers now planning more than 400 new mines -research

The world’s coal producers are currently planning as many as 432 new mine projects with 2.28 billion tonnes of annual output capacity, research published on Thursday showed, putting targets for slowing global climate change at risk.

China, Australia, India and Russia account for more than three quarters of the new projects, according to a study by U.S. think-tank Global Energy Monitor. China alone is now building another 452 million tonnes of annual production capacity, it said.

“While the IEA (International Energy Agency) has just called for a giant leap toward net zero emissions, coal producers’ plans to expand capacity 30% by 2030 would be a leap backward,” said Ryan Driskell Tate, Global Energy Monitor research analyst and lead author of the report.

 How a Polish coal mine risks derailing the EU’s climate strategy

Poland’s particular reliance on coal is becoming a major concern for the EU in its attempts to reach its emissions targets. The bloc has agreed to cut emissions by 55 percent by 2030 and achieve net-zero by 2050, but Polish politicians are lashing out at what they see as a blatant disregard for Poland’s energy security and economic prosperity.

Maybe Poland will one again be the nation that starts the rollback of the Evil Empire—this time the one in Brussels. Meanwhile, back here in the U.S.:

 Coal plant closures slow, in blow to Biden climate goals

Coal plant retirements are likely to slump to their lowest level since 2014 in President Biden’s first year in office, according to federal data.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects more than 4 gigawatts of coal retirements this year, down from 9.4 GW in 2020. Some 22 GW is slated for shutdown through 2024, compared with 41 GW during the Trump administration. The U.S. coal fleet total is roughly 220 GW. . .  The dynamic hints at a potential risk to Biden’s climate ambitions.

King Canute, call your office.

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