…will be those that adopt sane energy policies. Unfortunately, that group does not include the U.S. Our government is determined to drive the coal industry, and coal-fired power plants, out of business, with natural gas next on the list. Does that make any sense? David Blackmon writes in the Telegraph:
As the United States continues to rapidly retire its dwindling fleet of coal-fired power plants in the name of fighting climate change, the world’s two most populous nations, China and India, continue efforts to dramatically expand their own coal usage. These two starkly divergent approaches inevitably lead to questions about which philosophy will prevail at the end of the day, and whether there is actually any “energy transition” happening at all.
There isn’t, and there won’t be.
Like many other developing nations, India and China have been rational actors when it comes to fulfilling the energy needs of their societies, choosing factors like affordability and reliability over the Western norm of policymaker virtue signaling.
This is a stark contrast to the approach by the Biden administration in the US, which has been working overtime to kill the nation’s once-dominant coal industry in its feverish pursuit of often arbitrary and irrational climate goals. This rapid dismantling of US coal recently led one commissioner at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Mark Christie, to question, “Are the lights going to stay on?”
The answer is: No, they aren’t.
Christie’s concern is that the current rapid and rising pace of retirements of not just coal-fired power plants, but also plants powered by natural gas, seems certain to lead to even higher levels of instability on a power grid that is becoming overwhelmed by unpredictable and weather-dependent wind and solar generation.
You can’t keep the electricity on 24/7 with power sources that work only occasionally, and unpredictably. No one has ever done it, even on a small scale. Nowhere on Earth is there even a demonstration project to show how a town or village can run itself on wind and solar energy, plus batteries.
[In the U.S.], “Announced coal retirements total 44,700 MW over the next 4 years and 83,400 MW during the next 6 years.”
That is a problem because we have no plan to replace that dispatchable capacity:
Given that the permitting, funding, construction and starting-up of dispatchable replacement capacity can take 7-10 years under ideal conditions in the US, consideration of that 6-year time frame becomes especially crucial. Yet, as the report notes, no one in the Biden administration appears to be attempting to address the situation in any real way despite consistent warnings since 2019 of a looming shortage of reliable generating capacity on the grid.
There is no plan. We are simply cruising toward disaster, with no one at the wheel.
Meanwhile, the Indians and Chinese are not so stupid:
As US policymakers appear to be intentionally working to dismantle the country’s energy security, India’s state-owned energy giant NTPC reported this week that mining of coal during the first half of that country’s 2023/24 fiscal year expanded by a whopping 83 per cent. With a current installed power generation capacity of more than 73 gigawatts (GW), NTPC is India’s largest integrated power provider. During the same six-month period which began on April 1, NTPC also reported a 94 per cent boost in coal dispatch, an astonishing number.
China, meanwhile, continues to permit 1 to 2 new coal-fired power plants every week, and now has 243 GW of new capacity permitted and under construction, according to the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air.
So China alone has 243 gigawatts of new coal capacity already coming online, while we are planning to retire a little under 45 gigawatts. And that is just what they are currently building. There are many more coal-fired power plants where those came from, as coal is plentiful. And India has almost doubled its coal-fired power production, with much more yet to come. There are other governments, too, that are not crazy.
All of which is to say that anyone who thinks we are somehow helping the climate with our energy policies is deluded. We are simply condemning the U.S. to second-class power status, and our citizens (except for our virtue-signaling elites, of course), to a sharply declining, ultimately third-world, standard of living.