September 1 News: Facing Coal Shortages, China Boosts Clean Energy Targets; Huntsman Not Really a ‘Green’ Republican

Coal Shortages Speed Up China’s Clean Power Plans

The Chinese government continues to expand its clean energy production plans, to replace increasingly expensive coal power that is shutting down coal plants and causing power shortages of at least 16 GW. China’s twelth five-year plan unveiled this week plans for 70 GW for wind, and 5 GW of solar by 2015.

A new development, peak coal, has shaken up the plan. Coal prices have risen 75% since 2007, while electricity prices have only been allowed to rise 15%. Shortages of Chinese coal as local mines are depleted are driving up prices for imports (US Coal Companies Reap Windfall From Australian Climate Catastrophe) and China’s coal power plants are now under real financial stress. “Many coal plants have shut down their generators because the more they produce, the bigger the losses they will suffer,” Li Chaolin, a coal and energy industry analyst at Anbound Group told the Global Times. As a result, as much as 30 GW of power shortages are forcast as struggling coal power plants in China are unable to stay in business. China intends to build at least 75 GW of new clean energy to help supply new energy demands as its economy grows. But the dramatic loss of coal power was not factored in several years ago. China’s first CSP tender generated an average solar power price of CNY0.96 (US$15) per kWh. The price being offered for CSP solar is about double the price of its conventional coal power. Wind is also more expensive, but now increasingly competitive.

Jon Huntsman’s Jobs Plan Cements Shift From Green Republican To Energy Hawk

As recently as June, an environmental website declared former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman the “greenest” of the Republican presidential candidates. But the “jobs plan” Huntsman released Wednesday may put an end to that kind of talk. Huntsman’s 12-page outline detailing his plan cements the former U.S. ambassador to China as a full-fledged energy-production hawk. “Energy independence” is the third of four objectives in the plan, behind tax reform and regulatory reform (trade is the fourth), but the plan has the most amount of detail in its energy section. It gets a full three pages, far more than any of the three other subject areas. Huntsman’s platform aims to reduce the leverage that oil-producing nations in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela, have over U.S. government policies. “To free ourselves from OPEC’s grasp, we must end our heroin-like addiction to foreign oil,” Huntsman said in a speech to announce his plan in New Hampshire.

Can Water Treaties be Climate Proofed?

For centuries, water has been a potent weapon between warring states. When Pisa was at war with Florence, Leonardo da Vinci and Machiavelli planned to divert the Arno and leave Pisa dry. For at least as long, water has been a casus belli. India and Pakistan have contested one another’s access to the Indus River system; a 2006 study commissioned by the Defense Department said, “for over a half century, bitter rivalry over river resources” has arguably “been one of the leading causes of full-scale warfare between them.” Meanwhile, while India and Bangladesh have had standoffs over the Ganges. In the last 50 years, Israel and Syria have fought over the rights to the Jordan River, and Brazil and Paraguay have argued over control of the Paraná. Such conflicts and uses of water as a weapon are now controlled by hundreds of international agreements. But climate change could increase the possibility of new water wars as some flows become anemic and others become unusable torrents. But as a new study by Heather Cooley and Peter H. Gleick of the Oakland-based Pacific Institute pointed out, “Most trans-boundary water agreements” are “based on the assumption that future water supply and quality will not change.” Oops.

Oil firms start U.S. Gulf evacuations due to weather

BP Plc on Wednesday became the first major oil producer to say it was evacuating some workers from Gulf of Mexico oil and gas platforms because of a tropical disturbance that could become a named storm this week. Later on Wednesday, Anadarko Petroleum Corp joined BP saying it has evacuated non-essential workers from three platforms in the Gulf. Royal Dutch Shell also was preparing to evacuate some workers and expected to decide whether to move forward with that during the day, spokeswoman Kelly op de Weegh said. Shell was monitoring the system over the northwestern Caribbean Sea and the eastern Gulf. The National Hurricane Center said the weather formation had a 30 percent chance of becoming a cyclone in the next two days. Chevron Corp, Exxon Mobil Corp, ConocoPhillips and Apache Corp also said they were monitoring the system.

Critics: Tri-State ‘pouring money into giant coal-fired power plant’ despite EPA regs

Conservation groups deeply involved in the resource acquisition planning process for Westminster-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission say they’re very concerned the state’s second largest power supplier behind only Xcel Energy is planning to build an 895-megawatt conventional, coal-fired power plant just across the state line in Holcomb, Kan. “Their resource plan shows no need for that plant of that size during the entire 20-year period of their plan,” Bruce Driver, a consultant and former executive director of Western Resource Advocates, told the Colorado Independent recently. “At the same time, they are pouring money into Holcomb 2, which they will own if it gets built.” The plant has been approved by Kansas regulators but stalled by a Sierra Club lawsuit and Tri-State’s lack of clarity on whether it plans to actually go ahead with the plant. Opponents estimate Tri-State has already spent between $50 million and $100 million of ratepayer money on the facility. Driver fears the company that supplies power to 44 member-owned rural electric associations in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Nebraska is planning to become a regional power wholesaler – something WRA would strongly oppose.

15 Responses to September 1 News: Facing Coal Shortages, China Boosts Clean Energy Targets; Huntsman Not Really a ‘Green’ Republican

  1. Jeffrey Davis says:

    Solyndra’s bankruptcy should underline just how far behind our technology has fallen. You would think that having our technology surpassed by Chinese technology would be a wake-up call.

    But you’d be wrong.

    So it goes.

  2. John McCormick says:

    Jeffrey, maybe you can expand on your comment.

    China is very generous with its state-sponsored support for industries it wants to expand. Tell us what you know about the US and China approach to growing renewable industries.

    John McCormick

  3. Leland Palmer says:

    What was called invest 92, and later Tropical Depression 12, has now become hurricane Katia:
    Justweather Storm Watch- Atlantic

    Models generally have this storm swinging northward, and staying in the Atlantic, but the uncertainty is large.

  4. Sasparilla says:

    A good, long article focusing the spotlight on the Murdoch’s Australian wing propaganda record (dovetails nicely with the Climate Progress article from yesterday):

    Australia’s climate scientists expose shock-jock distortion tactics – Academics catalogue the deluge of spin and misinformation of climate science by various Murdoch-owned papers.

  5. Colorado Bob says:

    Wednesday marks the end of the hottest climatological summer on record for Oklahoma
    Statewide average breaks the state record set in 1934.
    “So we’re not just topping the record by a little; we’re really smashing it,” said Gary McManus, of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.

    On a national level, Oklahoma will break the all-time summer record, but Texas will, as well. So it’s not clear which of the two states will have the warmest summer on record, McManus said.

    Read more:

  6. Colorado Bob says:

    Second giant ice island set to break off Greenland glacier
    Astonished scientist says he was ‘completely unprepared for the gob-smacking scale of the breakup, which rendered me speechless’

  7. China’s first CSP tender generated an average solar power price of CNY0.96 (US$15) per kWh.

    Uh, that should be 15 cents per kWh.

  8. Colorado Bob, thanks for keeping us up to date on weather extremes and links. I follow them often. Much appreciated.

  9. I’m sure not convinced about “peak coal” in the sense of being half way through recoverable reserves. But I do know that demand seems to outstripping current supply and so prices are rising fast.

    The mine gate price on BC coal for example ran steady at $40/tonne for 25 years through 2005. But has now leapt to $200/tonne in last five years. Cha-ching.

    Almost all of BC coal is exported, and so currently escapes the BC carbon tax…costing BC taxpayers $1.5 billion dollars in lost carbon tax revenue each year. That is over $250,000 in lost carbon tax revenue per coal job. BC biz pay carbon tax on BC coal…but chinese biz don’t. BC could levy a fee on its own coal resources to cover carbon content…but they don’t, except on their own local biz. Go figure.

    Like in USA, the game afoot is try to rapidly expand coal production for export while acting “green” by limiting consumption a bit at home. This is Obama’s game too so far. Obama just opened the floodgates on a huge new coal rip and burn fest in good old USA…while EPA once again put off any restrictions on coal carbon for a few more years (at least). Coal port expansion battles are brewing in Washington state, BC, Australia and elsewhere.

    The burn-us-all-into-misery coal profiteers are working hard to expand coal production while their politicians continue to exempt their coal resources from any carbon pricing or limits.

  10. Prokaryotes says:

    New Climate Change Collection exclusively designed by prokaryotes

    Check it out, the new motive is a small climate change cartoon!

  11. Prokaryotes says:

    It’s Official: This is Texas’s Worst One-Year Drought on Record (Infographic)

  12. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    China will pass the USA in scientific papers and patents within a year or two. And anyone familiar with Needham’s monumental work on science and technology in China will know that the Chinese have for thousands of years had a tremendous facility with technological innovation. The time is ripe for the USA to realise that its days as global hegemon are over, that it will remain a great power but the other rising powers are not there to be ordered around any more. India will not, forever, be run by obsequious toadies like the current corrupt Congress crew and any rational regime will never allow itself to be used by the West as a pawn against China. So it’s about time for massive co-operation between the global powers, to the benefit of humanity. I’m not holding my breath, though, as every day here News Corpse and the other MSM hatemongering and fear-inducing organs publish one Sinophobic diatribe after another. It’s pretty clear that China is being set up as ‘the next enemy’ that the West has always craved, if only to take the rabble’s minds off their calamitously collapsing living standards and life prospects.

  13. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    While I find it a little rich that ‘The Guardian’, which has moved towards the denialist end of the spectrum in recent years, led by the estimable Fred Pearce, should attack News Corpse for its agit-prop, what the author says is absolutely true. What is more ‘The Fundament’ (aka The Australian) also has the unmitigated gall to endless assert that its coverage is ‘even-handed’ which, echoing its ideological clone Fox News’ ‘Fair and Balanced’ obscenity, is, in my opinion, a ‘Big Lie’ bigger than Uluru itself. I did like the comparison of ‘The Fundament’ to the ‘event horizon of a black hole’ because what is a fundament but a black hole that produces crapulous waste? It’s the ‘naked singularity’ that lies within that troubles me somewhat. Is it Murdoch himself, the now disrobed Emperor of Disinformation, or something even bigger, even denser yet?

  14. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Why are you not convinced, Barry? Production has plateaued for some years. Discoveries peaked forty years ago. The IEA has published estimates of depletion rates in giant fields that are calamitous. The Saudi reserves are deeply suspicious. Moreover, the first half is the easier to extract. And doesn’t the regime change aggression in Libya, like that in Iraq, provide compelling evidence that the West has embarked on a neo-colonial effort to control dwindling supplies. Of course Gaddafi’s insistence on running an independent oil industry, wishing to trade in currencies other than the dollar and euro and invest the proceeds in his own country and Africa rather than US Treasuries was a big ‘Kick Me’ sign, but the basic pattern is there for all to see,