New data on the world’s biggest developers of coal-fired power plants paints a very different picture: Chinese corporations are building or planning to build more than 700 new coal plants at home and around the world. Overall, 1,600 coal plants are planned or under construction in 62 countries, according to Urgewald’s tally, which uses data from the Global Coal Plant Tracker portal. The new plants would expand the world’s coal-fired power capacity by 43 percent. The fleet of new coal plants would make it virtually impossible to meet the goals set in the Paris climate accord. –Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times, 1 July 2017
The world’s biggest coal users — China, the United States and India — have boosted coal mining in 2017, in an abrupt departure from last year’s record global decline for the heavily polluting fuel and a setback to efforts to rein in climate change emissions. Mining data reviewed by The Associated Press show that production through May is up by at least 121 million tons, or 6 per cent, for the three countries compared to the same period last year. The change is most dramatic in the U.S., where coal mining rose 19 per cent in the first five months of the year, according to U.S. Department of Energy data. —Associated Press, 26 June 2017
A coalition of OPEC members and other petrostates agreed to reduce its collective production by 1.8 million barrels per day through next March, but surging North American crude production is threatening to effectively cancel out those cuts. As the FT reports, oil output in Canada’s oil sands is set to jump as projects funded well before the decline in crude prices come online over the next year and half. Combined, Canadian and U.S. oil production is set to grow more than a million barrels per day next year, as compared to where these North American countries were when the petrostate cuts first went into place. That nullifies more than half of that petrostate production draw down. This all adds up to a truth that the oil historian Daniel Yergin hit on last year: “the era of Opec as a decisive force in the world economy is over.” —The American Interest, 2 July 2017
Solar panels create 300 times more toxic waste per unit of electricity generated than nuclear power plants, according to a Thursday report from the pro-nuclear group Environmental Progress (EP). The report found that solar panels use heavy metals, including lead, chromium and cadmium, which can harm the environment. The hazards of nuclear waste are well known and can be planned for, but very little has been done to mitigate solar waste issues. Terry said that waste from solar panels will quickly become a far bigger problem than nuclear waste, because power grids need dramatically more solar panels to generate the same amount of electricity as a nuclear reactor. –Andrew Follett, Daily Caller, 1 July 2017
Solar, wind and electric vehicles are now said to have such momentum that they are going to cause a peak in oil demand within as little as five years, according to the most optimistic projections. Costs have come down to the point where the Financial Times published an article titled, “The Big Green Bang: How renewable energy became unstoppable.” Unfortunately, reality is the wicked witch and the flying monkeys are starting to descend. In case after case, where subsidies or support is removed, sales suffer. New European solar installations dropped by one-third in 2016 as several countries reduced high prices for purchased power. An end to heavy subsidies and mandates might not cause the near-disappearance of these industries as in the past, but some serious retrenchment is a real possibility and it’s puzzling that so many are treating that as impossible. –Michael Lynch, Forbes, 29 June 2017
The contract for the proposed Hinkley Point nuclear power station is so heavily loaded with penalties that the UK government is unlikely to cancel. Rising costs and other project risks, on the other hand, mean that EdF is in no hurry to build it. This results in a stagnant uncertainty that further clouds prospects for what would otherwise be the technology of choice, Combined Cycle Gas Turbines, and even for renewables. –John Constable, GWPF Energy, 27 June 2017
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