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Government Power

The Cheap Energy Revolution Is Here, and Coal Won't Cut It (bloomberg.com) 478

An anonymous reader shares a report: Wind and solar are about to become unstoppable, natural gas and oil production are approaching their peak, and electric cars and batteries for the grid are waiting to take over. This is the world Donald Trump inherited as U.S. president. And yet his energy plan is to cut regulations to resuscitate the one sector that's never coming back: coal. Clean energy installations broke new records worldwide in 2016, and wind and solar are seeing twice as much funding as fossil fuels, according to new data released Tuesday by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). That's largely because prices continue to fall. Solar power, for the first time, is becoming the cheapest form of new electricity in the world. But with Trump's deregulations plans, what "we're going to see is the age of plenty -- on steroids," BNEF founder Michael Liebreich said. "That's good news economically, except there's one fly in the ointment, and that's climate."
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The Cheap Energy Revolution Is Here, and Coal Won't Cut It

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  • Oh goody, More economic and environmental comments from slashdoter experts :-(

    • by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @12:16PM (#54306381) Homepage Journal

      I'm running out of armchairs to sit in while I solve all the world's problems!

    • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @12:52PM (#54306705)

      For a change of pace, how about we talk about the fact that everything the article had to say about the deregulation was quoted in the summary? I actually read through the article to get more details, but none were to be found.

      The rest of the article provides some (quite interesting and informative!) graphs and analysis about the current and future state of energy both globally and in the US. Nowhere in the article did they talk about what form the deregulation would take, when it would start, when Trump approved it, or any of the other salient details you'd expect in an article that was ostensibly about coal deregulation.

      I have no reason to doubt that Trump is doing exactly as Bloomberg said, but I'd love to see some information about it, rather than the bait-and-switch they pulled with their lede that has nothing at all to do with the rest of the article. Alternatively, Bloomberg could have just shown me the graphs, since they're good in their own right and shouldn't be buried under a lede that has nothing to do with them.

      Which is to say, as you see the comments filling up with people arguing about deregulating coal, enjoy a nice laugh at the fact that they're taking sides based on an article that has nothing to do with the topic they're arguing about.

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Here it is then. A straight up conspiracy to temporarily resuscitate coal mining so the crap investment can be dumped on pension funds and gullible mug punters. It seems the rich and greedy held on too tightly to those coal investments, hence the need for a major conspiratorial pump and dump. The reason why coal will crash, simply to environmentally damaging from carbon to coal ash, it simply is an ancient energy source that should have been abandoned years ago and they know it, hence the need for a major p

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @11:45AM (#54306021)

    Coal is dead. Helping coal MINERS makes sense, but trying to resurrect something that is dying because of market forces (and good riddance) is the most retarded incarnation of "conservatism" since trickle down economics.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @12:00PM (#54306181)

      We have given them medical coverage for their black lung disease through the ACA (in the past coal industry provided doctors had to make the diagnosis, and surprisingly nobody had black lung disease, now they are being recognized and treated) and they voted for a candidate who promised to kill the ACA

      We have offered them job retraining and a future in solar energy and they voted for a candidate who promised to keep sending them underground to die by promising further deregulation to coal mine owners who regularly turn off methane detectors

      Give 'em what they want, and when they get tired of being abused, send them back down because they have already rejected our offers

      If I seem cold, it is because all of my ancestors were coal miners and WE figured this out decades ago.

      • This. I like this.

        • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @12:38PM (#54306583) Journal

          The problem is that even if coal is completely deregulated, it's not miners who are going to be doing the extraction. The future of mining is automated. At best this will just give the coal barons a few more years of profit and do dick for the miners.

          But it's not even going to be that good. Natural gas is killing coal, so there isn't even going to be a coal industry by the time renewables dominate. This is a classic "buggy whip" problem, in that there ain't gonna be no more horse-drawn carriages, so there ain't gonna be no more buggy whips. Whatever you think of Clinton, she was telling the miners the truth, their jobs are quickly becoming obsolete.

          And the same goes for lots of other industries. Manufacturing is rapidly automating, so that even mass repatriation of US industrial capacity is not going to deliver the same level of employment that was there even thirty years ago. There's nothing the US government can do about it, short of outlawing automation and renewables, which would be sheer madness.

          Christ, no less than Rick Perry himself has admitted the US needs to stay in the Paris Accord. Even the most pro-oil of pro-oil politicians know full well the jig is up. Oil isn't coming back, and as the price falls away it's impact on the economy diminishes. Coal was the first because it's the most expensive and most obviously harmful, but it applies to all the fossil fuels.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )

      Unfortunately it's expensive to help the population of a whole region when one the biggest economic drivers of that region collapses.

      It does not take a lot of education to mine coal, nearly all education is hands-on on-the-job and is physical. A region whose primary employment is like this can let its education system slide while still keeping a degree of productivity, but if that industry leaves then what remains is generations of people without the education to readily persue other forms of work. One ha

      • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @12:42PM (#54306643) Journal

        Warning: heartless comment coming:

        Perhaps the people in those regions should not have voted for politicians who hollowed out the education system, blocked infrastructure development and generally acted in ways that benefited nobody except coal mine owners.

        It's been obvious for a generation that coal was coming to the end of its life. Perhaps they should have looked forward instead of attempting to emulate King Canute.

        • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @12:50PM (#54306697)

          I don't disagree with you. Unfortunately poor education begets poor decisions which begets poor education, the circle of derp if you will.

          Come in as an outsider to attempt to help and you're disrespected for being that outsider, even if you have reasonable intentions. Be an insider that managed to get that education despite the difficulties and you're branded as an elitist, even if your goal is to attempt to bring everyone up to your level.

          The best argument against local control (ie, Federalism) is seeing what people do with it. The best argument against having only a central-controlled government is currently residing at 1600 W. Pennsylvania Avenue, when he deigns to stoop so low as to stay there.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The currently popular form of conservatism in the US is not about making sense, or even adhering to any sort of coherent system of values. Abortion and all forms of birth control = evil. Taxes = bad. Government = bad. Civil rights = bad. Brown people = bad. Immigrants = bad. Absolutely no room for nuance.

      It wasn't always like this, but most moderate conservatives have been flushed out of office. I'm in Ohio, where the governor is an actual moderate conservative. He's one of the last.

    • by ravenshrike ( 808508 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @12:11PM (#54306323)

      Coal power in the US is dead, but that has much, much less to do with any 'green revolution' and significantly more to do with the large oil companies entering the shale game after OPEC decided to try and destroy the US shale market through supply shenanigans. With their entry and the rapid R&D into efficiency caused by the price drop in oil, they've figured out how to frack for 20-30 dollars per barrel. That being said, coal is still very much alive in China and elsewhere, which means that properly run, coal mining will be around for decades. The issue is that it is unlikely to support nearly as many people.

      • by HeckRuler ( 1369601 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @01:17PM (#54306939)

        large oil companies entering the shale game after OPEC decided to try and destroy the US shale market through supply shenanigans.

        I remember that meme. The news orgs pushed it pretty hard. But digging in, it just looked like nationalism talking. That or the oil companies were directly writing the script. What "shenanigans" did OPEC play?

        Because as far as I can tell, the only shenanigans was that they didn't reduce their own production. The US increases production, and is pissed off that OPEC doesn't slit their own throat and reduce theirs. That's REALLY not shenanigans. That's actually what's SUPPOSED to happen. Two big giants having a price war and refusing to try and artificially boost market prices through restricting supply. YAY free market.

        And... Do you see the paradox in your statement? US enters shale market after OPEC tries to destroy US shale market? One of those things happened first.

        Anyone got a better explanation for this?

        • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @04:58PM (#54308961)
          You probably missed it because you were only looking for examples of OPEC reducing production. Shale oil used to cost around $80-$100/bbl to extract. As long as the price of oil remained below that price, extracting shale oil was economically unfeasible and oil companies threw just a token amount of money into its R&D just to keep it ready on the back burner. So OPEC was trying to keep the price of oil high, but below that $100/bbl threshold. When the price of oil did drift over $100/bbl, OPEC increased production to try to bring the price back below that threshold, keeping shale oil borderline unfeasible.

          I think what OPEC (and everyone else) missed was that you don't just get oil from shale oil. You get natural gas too. And that natural gas is what's turned out to be a bonanza, leading it to surpass coal, and threatening to pass oil as the leading fossil fuel. It's driven further shale oil extraction R&D (I believe its cost is well under $50/bbl now). So at this point OPEC is along for the ride just like everyone else.
          • OPEC oil production really did rise in 2010. [gaffney-cline-focus.com] Right around the time that US shale oil production came online. Buuuuuut maybe you missed it, but there was this little thing that happened around the 2008 time-frame known as the econopocalpyse. OPEC dropped it's production because no one was buying and the price of a barrel fell from $150 to $40. Prices went back up and they increased production back to where it was before the crisis. OPEC is indeed just along for the ride. Blaming them is like blaming t

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Coal is dead.

      Not necessarily. There are applications for coal other than burning it. The biggest one that comes to mind is activated coal - which can be used to clean up toxins, guide chemical reactions and act as the material between super capacitor plates - all of which are good for the environment. It just depends how it is used. With the demand for batteries in the clean energy sector you could quite easily mass produce super capacitors to fill the gap and have a more robust power grid as a result, without the n

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Activated charcoal [wikipedia.org] is made from wood.

      • Activated CHARcoal, which is not made from mined coal but from organic matter than is run through a gassifier to remove all the volatile compounds and leave the carbon.

        You do not need mineral coal for this. There are vanishingly few things that require mineral coal these days.
        =Smidge=

    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @12:16PM (#54306375)

      Coal is dead.

      Sure. Even if Trump rolls back some regs, no one is going to build a new coal plant with a 50-60 year lifetime. The regs will come roaring back in 2020 or 2024, along with new carbon taxes. The worst that will happen is that a few old dirty coal plants may delay retirement.

      Helping coal MINERS makes sense

      That depends on the type of "help". Handouts that encourage people to put off hard choices often do more harm than good. Development funds for Appalachia have traditionally been a bottomless pit of waste. There are good reasons that nothing other than resource extraction has been successful there. Transportation is difficult on mountain roads, and the people are poorly educated, close-minded, and unambitious.

      By far the best way to help these people is to assist them in MOVING SOMEWHERE ELSE.

      Disclaimer: I was born and raised in Eastern Tennessee. I have many relatives there, and all of them are doing poorly. I also have many friends and relatives that, like me, moved away, and they are doing much better.

    • Coal is dead. ... trying to resurrect something ... dying [from] market forces ... is [perjorative].

      This isn't about trying to resuscitate the coal industry (though if it lets it run a little longer and die more smoothly - rather than being suddenly assassinated in a fit of political vitrual-signaling - it will let the miners and their offspring migrate to other jobs, rather than to government assistance.)

      It's about killing off the massive, expensive, and intrusive regulatory infrastructure that no longer s

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by argStyopa ( 232550 )

      "something that is dying because of market forces"
      I'm not sure that's /precisely/ true? Market forces?

      Coal is dying because of massive government investment and subsidies compared to the other industries.

      As much as we'd like to simply 'declare' that coal is dead, the only reason we can afford the other technologies is ... because we're staggeringly wealthy and can afford to blow money on them.

      "U.S. Energy Information Administration data shows that:
      - solar energy was subsidized at $231.21 per megawatt hour
      -

      • Coal has always been heavily subsidised by not having to pay for its negative externalities. And I'm not sure your link is entirely unbiased, it reads like it's written by someone who wears a tin-foil hat or is paid by the fossil fuel industry.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    less coal burning means less mercury in fish. [washingtonpost.com]

    But Trump allowed coal miners to dump their crap into water, polluting it and of course, the fish down stream. [washingtonpost.com]

    And while the rich coal mine owners line their pockets with more money, the communities that they destroyed have to buy bottled water. [aljazeera.com]

    Privatize the profits and socialize the costs - including the health costs to the people.

    Yeah. Capitalism. Yeah. Trump. Making America Great again....more like throwing it back decades.

    Coal is a shit fuel, it's outdat

  • Is there a solution for bulk storage of large amounts of energy? Most renewable sources aren't "uniform", e.g. you need wind to make wind energy, sun to make solar energy, etc. The advantage of fossil fuels and nuclear energy is they don't have that same limitation.

    • Wikipedia lists several:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      My favorite is liquid salt storage, which is pretty cool, but battery technology is jumping leaps and bounds and there are older methods, like pumped water storage.

    • For coal, this doesn't really matter - it still loses. To pick up where renewables leave off, you want natural gas (or even petroleum) turbines that can quickly be brought on and off line. Coal and nuclear are not really suited to this.

    • There are a few options, though none is really economical on a large scale. Compressed air storage, pumped storage, or just a really big building full of batteries. The better option might be real-time demand management. When the wind picks up, air conditioners across the country will turn on.

    • Well... I'm sure there are some promising technologies, but I'm looking for something that has been -demonstrated- at "city scale" or larger. Answering what "could be" is not the same as answering "here today." (Otherwise, I could make an argument for "clean coal of tomorrow" ;-) )

      The problem with dams is that fresh water is an increasingly scarce resource. But there's several thousand years of history using dams and collection ponds to ensure uniform water flows for both consumption and power purposes

    • Re:Storage? (Score:5, Informative)

      by MountainLogic ( 92466 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @12:36PM (#54306567) Homepage
      Pumped Hydro can provide massive storage. These are closed loop dams with an upper pool and a lower pool. To story energy you pump water from the lower pool to the upper pool and to recover energy you run water through a generator from the upper pool to the lower pool. There are pumped hydro facilities as large as 3 GW. As these are closed systems they do not have the same impact that putting a dam on a river has.

      Another solution are distributed batteries at each substation. This has the dual advantage of helping with small transients on a branch and, when scaled out, adding substantial reserve capacity for the grid as a whole. The value to the grid in transient mitigation is cheaper than adding more transmission capability so the grid level storage is a free benefit.

      Perhaps the best way of handling renewables is Demand Response. Many functions can be shifted as power becomes more plentiful, such as cooling can be moved from real time (daytime) to making ice at night when it is cooler (and more energy efficient anyway as the outside air is cooler) and then that ice can be used during the day to cool a building.

  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @11:53AM (#54306099)

    and coal is going to die, why the worry and fret about coal deregulation (as opposed to subsidies)?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      and coal is going to die, why the worry and fret about coal deregulation (as opposed to subsidies)?

      Because clean water. And air.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @12:12PM (#54306331)

      Because a dying industry that is dumping toxic crud into creeks and rivers is still an industry that is dumping toxic crud into creeks and rivers?

      Because just because something is in the process of dying doesn't mean it is harmless... quite the opposite usually...

    • by Layzej ( 1976930 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @12:41PM (#54306615)
      If a town has to import bottled water because a coal company is allowed to pump waste water into streams then you have set up some kind of subsidy, although indirect. How far should a country go to prop up a dying industry? What is the opportunity cost for being the last country to embrace the 21st century?
  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve ( 949321 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @11:55AM (#54306135)
    Trump knows there is no future in coal and it's not coming back. He's basically keeping a campaign promise. People in coal mining country were told by Hillary Clinton what they didn't want to hear, namely that there was no future in coal and, in a much quieter voice that apparently nobody heard, that they'd supposedly be retrained for new jobs. Trump simply told coal miners that their problems were somebody else's fault and he would remove restrictions on coal. In the short term it will probably save enough jobs for the over 50 crowd that they can retire from the mines, but there's no future for younger people in the field and Trump knows it. He's not going to say it out loud as the coal miners prefer to live in the delusion that they can turn back the clock here and they voted Republican and he wants their votes in the future, but I'm sure he knows it.
    • by zlives ( 2009072 )

      excellent point, he could also promise to cut all the regulations on horse drawn buggies... and keep that promise to no real adverse effects and be able to say look i did it.

    • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @12:20PM (#54306419)

      We've a similar thing here in Europe with the fishing industry. Fish stocks are dangerously low, and the EU has reacted by imposing strict quotas - though ones which ecologists keep saying are still not strict enough. This has incurred much anger from the fishing industry, because it's not just an occupation for them - it's a way of life, going back generations, and now they are being driven out of business by what they see as pointless regulations imposed upon them by distant politicians in Brussels.

      They don't seem able to accept that there is a good reason for restricting fishing.

    • by Altus ( 1034 )

      yeah but wouldn't it be cheaper both short and long term for those mines to hire the young folk? Its not like the union will last long when there are 10 jobs for every 100 men and the young folks will work cheaper (stupid yes, their best long term choice is to head for the hills but if people were planning ahead we wouldn't have so many people trained to mine something that wasn't going to be profitable over a generation or 2 from now).

  • Gasoline is one of the most compact and highly useful energy sources available. Coal is also compact and highly useful.

    Sun and wind are not. They are a pain to store, huge losses during transport, not evenly distributive. Forever the pipe dream of the ideological.

    For electric to really take off, you either need coal (or other dinofuel) or nuclear. Personally, i'd like more pebble bed reactors.

    • by Fire_Wraith ( 1460385 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @12:10PM (#54306305)
      Your understanding of these things seems to be rooted in the 1970s. What you said used to be true, back then - but it's not today. The technology is improving rapidly, as is our ability to store and distribute that energy.

      It's like the old notions about electric cars. All the prototype ones from 20 years ago were terrible on so many levels, in terms of power, range, recharge time, etc, not to mention cost. But as we're seeing now, that's changing radically. Go look at Tesla for instance. We may not yet be at the day where electric is 100% better in all areas, but it's now only a matter of when, not if.
    • Fossil fuels are easy to store but they are also dangerous as they can catch fire and/or explode pretty easily. (Yes I know current lithium batteries have a similar issue, but solid lithium batteries should solve this soon. Solid-state_lithium-ion_battery [wikipedia.org] ). I am guessing that sometime in the next decade stations and electric cars will be setup to swap a charged battery for your current battery. With these things humans could ween off of fossil fuels in the next couple of decades.

      Wind and solar (with be

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @12:02PM (#54306207) Homepage

    1) It produces more radioactivity than all other energy sources, including Nuclear power. (A small percentage of coal is thorium, which settles around wherever you burn the coal.)

    2) It takes more work to mine it than all other sources (including uranium - though it does require less processing).

    3) It takes more work to ship it from it's source to the plant than all other energy types.

    4) It produces more carbon pollution than all other sources. Coal is basically pure carbon plus some nasty impurities. Oil and gas are Carbon + Hydrogen + some other stuff. Carbon burns to Carbon Dioxide (or worse, monoxide). Hydrogen burns nice and clean, turning into water.

    5) Coal contains trace amounts of mercury, which when burned makes it's way into the atmosphere, then rains down into the oceans. Nasty stuff. No other energy source has this problem.

    6) Coal mining has some nasty problems, including black lung disease and sometimes starts underground fires we literally can NOT put out.

    No sane person mines coal for energy if they have any other energy source. All others are safer and better. Burning oil, gas, or wood are all better. Nuclear is better. Tidal, wind, solar, hydro, are all better.

    Coal mining should only be used after you have burned all your forests up, mined all your uraninum, pumped all your natural gas and oil, and the sun has gone out.

  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @12:04PM (#54306233)

    Coal isn't coming back. It's something that sounded good to Trump's fans on the campaign trail, that's all. The coal industry employs fewer people than freaking Arby's. [washingtonpost.com] Fixing the coal industry would be like using a teaspoon to bail out a sinking Titanic. Middle America has far bigger problems that the dwindling coal industry.

    Only reason why it's an issue at all is because it sounded good on the campaign trail for Trump's supporters. It's dog whistle politics [wikipedia.org], not an actual energy plan. To everyone else it sounds like Trump is saying "Coal is the future and will meet our energy needs cheaply and effectively!" Which it absolutely won't. But to his fans, it sounds like this: "Rust belt and former mining communities will get their jobs back and be prosperous again!" Sadly, it doesn't actually mean that either. Deregulate all you want, wind and solar are still going to be cheaper.

    I feel bad for those folks in coal country counting on this guy to fix things for them. He isn't going to. He isn't able to. It'll be pretty bitter when they realize that.

    • Only reason why it's an issue at all is because it sounded good on the campaign trail for Trump's supporters.

      More specifically, it appealed to people in one of the regional subcultures (Appalachia) who are often a swing vote. They mostly vote Republican these days, but they've never been closely tied to either of the two major parties, and Trump had to lock them down in order to shore up the fact that his support was weak in other traditionally-Republican subcultures (though he was helped by the fact that his opponent's support was weak in important traditionally-Democrat subcultures).

  • by CHK6 ( 583097 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @12:09PM (#54306291)
    Well in the US, the electoral system lends itself to catering to demographic regions where the votes of the few outweigh the votes of the many when talking national elections. In "coal country" areas this will bolster the the voter base to continue support for Trump 2020 run. It's far easier to just reinstate what was taken in the form of coal jobs, rather than trying to find same income base jobs for those where coal mining is all they know.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by moeinvt ( 851793 )

      Should 1.6% of the population of California have more say in the national government than 100% of the population of Wyoming? Should 2.4% of the population of Texas be able to negate the voice of 100% of Vermont?

      "US" stands for "United States" Both the legislative branch of government and the national election system were created to provide a balance so that high population states could not impose their will on low population states via the U.S. government.

      If you want California to be free of that annoyin

  • With the cheap methane from fracking we can turn coal into clean burning gasoline...

    http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10... [acs.org]
  • by cavis ( 1283146 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @12:11PM (#54306319)

    The governor is a billionaire coal barron, and he's doing his best to revive coal as well. One major problem is that natural gas has taken over and the coal market just isn't there now. Aside from that, the cost to mine coal is way higher than it is for natural gas. To mine coal, you have to hire hundreds of miners, buy or lease really expensive equipment, dig a hole a couple of miles into the ground, then transport the product via truck or rail car to the buyer. To get natural gas, you drill a hole in the ground, insert a pipe, and connect it to other pipes.

    Then, you have to factor in foreign competition. I used to work in IT for a coal company at the beginning of my career (mid '90s), and in spite of doing $160 million in business per year, we went bankrupt. It was cheaper then to mine coal in China and ship it to our local power plants than it was to mine it locally. I'm not sure that the coal market it to that point yet, but I expect to return to those days. Coal truck drivers here were making over $70k per year while their foreign counterparts were doing that for a fraction of the money.

    Ironically, my office is in what used to be the headquarters for Columbia Gas Transmission in Charleston, WV, but that was bought out last year by TransCanada and several people were laid off. However, I don't work in the gas industry.

  • So called experts have been predicting the depletion of coal and oil reserves for about 40 years or so (google it). They have been wildly wrong. Just saying.

    • by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @12:30PM (#54306513) Homepage Journal

      There is so much more coal, natural gas and oil for us to mine. Just because it's there doesn't mean we should mine it. Technology has made us too good at surveying and finding coal and oil fields. If we wait until we run out before we stop, we have perhaps hundreds of years to go. And there are going to be dire consequences, if we try to continue mining and burning coal and oil in large amounts for that long.
      Now is the time to wrap up our use of some of these old energy sources and to invest in new energy sources. There are lots of proven options, and the technology around them keeps getting cheaper. It will be engineers and tech companies that are making the big bucks in the energy industry and not mine operators. (coal miners never made big bucks, I would say they got the shaft but that's an insensitive pun)

  • From the DoE:

    Major energy sources and percent shares of U.S. electricity generation at utility-scale facilities in 2016:

    Natural gas = 33.8%
    Coal = 30.4%
    Nuclear = 19.7%
    Renewables (total) = 14.9%
    Hydropower = 6.5%
    Wind = 5.6%
    Biomass = 1.5%
    Solar = 0.9%
    Geothermal = 0.4%
    Petroleum = 0.6%
    Other gases = 0.3%
    Other nonrenewable sources = 0.3%
    Pumped storage hydroelectricity = -0.2%

    So, wind + solar = 6.5%
    Coal + natural gas + nuclear = 83.9%

    Winner = not renewables

    If coal's been on the decline it's only because the Obama ad

    • by AaronW ( 33736 )

      If you look at new power plants, nobody is building coal power plants. They're being dismantled far faster than new ones are being built. They're being replaced by natural gas and renewable power because it's cheaper. If you look at the last 10 years, coal has been declining quickly. Coal just can't compete economically, especially given that all of the cheap coal is now gone. The coal industry has been struggling hard to remain competitive (which is why so many coal jobs have been lost). Look at how many c

  • Coal is no longer economically advantageous [wikipedia.org] and the market is switching to sources that are. The cost per kWh for wind and solar have plummeted so much in the last couple of years they are now cheaper than nuclear which had for decades been the cheapest "clean" energy source. Many nuclear facilities are now being aged out and plans to build new facilities have dropped. Add to that energy storage technology has also come down in cost per kWh so those solar arrays can be used to generate power for overnight a
  • by Eravnrekaree ( 467752 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @01:00PM (#54306775)

    This article is fake news, Solar and wind are not cheap nor can they replace coal. They do not provide a base load. COal is cheap compared to solar and wind, is more abundant, does provide base load and can provide far more energy than solar or wind. Solar and wind cannot provide more than small fraction of coal. Scarcity produces higher prices, ergo, it is not cheap. It has low energy density as well, hence you can generate the same amount of energy with far smaller coal power plants, the equivalent solar and wind would involve massive infrastructure.

    The only reason coal has declines is because of suppressive regulations. If the regulations are removed, then coal will become much more affordable and win in the market. Solar and wind cannot win in the market, because they are expensive.

    that solar is environmentally friendly is also a myth. The massive amount of used solar panels is a huge environmental disaster in the making and the materials that they are made from are very rare, making photovoltaic nonsustainable. Due to low energy density of wind, there also exists massive material usage due to the large number of wind generators.

  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @05:45PM (#54309237) Homepage Journal

    Wind accounted for 5.6% of power generation in 2016.
    Solar accounted for 0.9%.

    https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs... [eia.gov]

    I'm sure, on a more local level (like Texas), Wind accounts for a more significant portion per-capita. As does solar in areas with lots of sunshine (like Nevada and Hawaii).

    But considering that Nuclear, which is essentially stagnant or post-peak due to the way the market's been poisoned against it, is producing over three times the power that Wind and Solar do on an AGGREGATE basis.

    And that Coal and Hydro (which is post-peak) EACH produce about five times what Wind and Solar (again aggregate) do.

    I'd say calling Wind and Solar "unstoppable" at this point is putting the cart WELL before the horse...as in "What's that out there on the horizon?"

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser

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