I'm frustrated as I'm writing this on a train from Berlin to Warsaw. One of the reasons why I chose to travel by train rather than fly was the carbon footprint journey, and I'm cutting it down much less than I should be.
We are so dead set on maintaining our resource sector, in particular coal, that there seems to be no acknowledge that a crash is coming.
Yes, the price is high right now, which is great as a producer. But at some point there will be an inflection: the high price of coal, vs decreasing renewables and improvements to grids will mean coal plants become less and less untenable.
The price will crash, we'll be left with a massive oversupply of both the resource and the infrastructure. The communities that pushed for coal mines because they provide employment are going to be left with nothing.
In the end, mines like the Adani's Carmichael mine will fail with only a small amount of the resources extracted.
This is a great result for the climate, more coal left in the ground, it's just an ass about way of doing it that's going to wreak havoc with our economy.
Both Slovakia and Czechia are bit more "richer" than Poland (if you look at GDP (PPP) per capita), however Poland is much bigger economy - 5x size of Slovakia.
My guess is that because so far they had so much coal (largest reserves in Europe ), it was no brainer for them. However they are now in the process of commissioning nuclear power plant and plan to generate power from nuclear by 2033 
 https://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energetika_v_Česku#Výroba_elek... (second row - Jadro - is nuclear)
I find that kind of hard to believe.
The smart way would be to commission half a dozen state of the art designs (the 2nd is cheaper easier than the first and so on) over a decade, the French did 15 reactors in about a decade and economies of scale and expertise make each successor simpler.
We desperately need more baseload supply to supplement on the ongoing renewables switch, the grid is is operating on the slimmest safety factor I can recall.
Though I guess Poland is still heated by NG, even if it’s coming from Russia. Heating with electricity is pretty inefficient.
But yeah, finding clean sources of electricity in winter is a challenge for a place like Poland. Poor hydroelectric resource. Only modest geothermal potential. Modest solar (not good for winter load). But wind potential isn't too bad in the north of the country and in the Baltic Sea. Nuclear power should be considered, however, as it is in Finland.
Nuclear has super high capital costs that usually must be subsidized by the state (and insurance definitely needs to be subsidized). Not to mention corruption has to be low enough that a disaster doesn’t occur. I can see less developed countries not being able to take this route.
It results in a net increase in purchasing power for your most vulnerable citizens.
Frankly you Aussies are a bit embarrassing at the moment, time to get your act together
From what I read the PM seems to think he is some how immune to the effects and only smaller island nations will be effected, while simultaneously forgetting that he also lives on something which resembles an island, even if it is a big one.
It seems the Australian PM is certainly not the sharpest tool in the shed.
On the good side Poland is big time afforesting for the last 70 years from 20,8% in 1946 to 30% in 2020. Show me another country in Europe who did so much to sequester CO2 over last 70 years.
Also Poland and Czech Republic had decreased its CO2 production by 50% since 1990s - most in the world. Sure, EU money helped a lot but it was Polish jobs and life choices that paid for closing factories and reforming its post-communist dirty heavy industry, sewage treatment plants, agriculture etc.
So not all bad.
PS. Plans for Polish nuclear power plant in Żarnowiec had been abolished post Chernobyl. You never know..
And I wish Poland got rid of coal and better yet cars. But be realistic.
It's estimated Poland would have to spend >5% of GDP for 20+ years to replace it with nuclear or renewables and it's not a popular idea when you have a populist, global-warming skeptic government and close to 100k people working in coal mining (not that far from 1% of all employed in Poland)
tl;dr; unless there is external pressure & funding it's not changing.
In American politics, the fate of coal miners is ridiculously overrated. The coal industry employs fewer people than a mid-sized national fast food chain.
The auction allows them to attract low bids by a simple and understandable competition. If you bid higher than other entrants you won't get a contract, but if you bid lower than your operating costs you'll lose money (or more realistically, you won't pay back investors for the capital on the construction fast enough to make sense).
The CfD setup means the government's subsidy only manages the uncertainty. If prices collapse, the government picks up a big difference, but if prices sky-rocket the wind farm operator ends up paying the government instead of receiving a subsidy at all.
One thing I'm told, and hope to see, is that the taller the wind turbine the more often it runs. At high altitudes it's basically permanently windy, the winds we experience as so variable are a low phenomenon, so in principle as the turbines get taller some of the intermittent production problem goes away by itself. That would be almost bigger than just offshore wind power being cheap enough to justify building it on purely economic grounds with no subsidy and no additional carbon taxes.
Did they lose money running that plant? Is there some setup where running the plant a certain amount (maybe on windy days when pollution effects in the vicinity are smallest) is just treated as a good thing even though we really ought to be burning less fossil fuels not more?
I don't understand the economics of coal versus gas in this space in a market like the UK. It seems as though with gas being cheaper it would just never make economic sense to burn coal when gas plants aren't 100% flat out. But clearly I am wrong somehow.
It could well have been a maintenance thing. Maybe it was a test fire of some new equipment or configuration. It could also have been a contractual thing. A minimum supply they agreed upon with the organisation who manages the grid.
Source: Final paragraph of https://limejump.com/the-week-in-flexibility-mid-week-intrig...
"Short Term Energy Outlook -- 2019-08-06"
EIA forecasts that the share of U.S. generation from coal will average 24% in 2019 and in 2020, down from 28% in 2018.
EIA expects electric power sector demand for coal to fall by 2% in 2020, compared with an expected decline of 15% in 2019. However, planned coal plant retirements will continue to put downward pressure on overall electricity demand for the fuel. Almost 13 gigawatts of coal-fired electricity generation capacity has retired this year or is scheduled to retire by the end of 2020, accounting for 5% of the capacity existing at the end of 2018.
The power mix here is now 90% nuclear & hydro, so not emitting CO2 (directly), with the remainder being a mix of natural gas, wind, and solar.
And the federal gov't has now imposed a carbon tax to replace it.
On the plus side, politically, a large carbon tax would make it more competitive to manufacture locally, since it would become much more expensive to ship things via container ship/air. Globalism is largely a result of the cost of running a global logistics network plummeting.
The best way to do it is to start the price off low but telegraph that the price is going to go up in the future. Then people know when they need to get a new car/water heater/fridge to get the more efficient model. Probably even more important is industry and investors, they'll know not to invest in subdivisions from bulldozed farmland but instead build denser apartment buildings close to public transportation or to give more money to R&D to make their next model of car/water heater/fridge more efficient.
Big oil pushes natural gas as a bridge energy, and despite lots of skepticism towards them I think they're correct. The window where natural gas is a plurality of global energy consumption has to be as small as possible.
Also, there's this fairly interesting (supposedly) zero-emissions natural gas power plant  but all of the news seem to be from 2018 so it's not getting a lot of attention.
As it is a very potent greenhouse gas, the effects could be significant.
To be clear, both are bad and I hope renewables eat their lunch, breakfast, and dinner in short order.
If it's as safe as we're led to believe, why does it need to be exempted from the laws that protect the environment we all share?
I believe the Netherlands is phasing out its industry because of concerns. I also recall reading about problems in China as they begin trying to frack.
There is plenty of coal in India but not so much natural gas. Economically speaking in the short term it does not make sense for India to go with imported natural gas.
Is there much natural gas in China and India? China can possibly get it from Russia and a few other neighboring countries? What about India?
I'm thinking of more rural areas here, that havent already been hooked up to the grid. If you introduce possibly intermittent renewables villages are probably going to be more accepting if they don't already have access to 24/7 power. They can make it work for them, but that village can join up with other villages and become more reliable as the network expands.
Its analogous to mobile phones and mobile payments in the developing world. You don't have to build the landline and banking infrastructure, you can miss it out completely.
China gets 65% of its electricity from coal, the US gets 25% from coal. China emits more co2 than the US and India combined, and their co2 emissions are increasing 10% per year.
The US is pretty lackluster for renewables. But despite all appearances to the contrary, it's not doing nearly as bad as Trump claims to acclaim to. China is the polar opposite: it talks the talk but it's the largest polluter in the world by a huge margin.
Western countries don't have a moral right to pressure everyone else until we get our own house in order. China isn't the problem. You are, and so am I.
The right metric should be %renewables of installed capacity
USA < 15%
India almost 17%
China almost 25%
That's not to say handwaving is good, but that all geology is local and risk assessment has to be done at that scale.
Please do not repeat this nonsense. It either compares non-power-plant waste (lab gloves used in isotope labelling, for instance), or is so wrong as to be ludicrous.
Used nuclear fuel is billions of times more radioactive than coal ash.
Or better yet, walk around an operating nuke plant with a radiation detector and then do the same walk around an operating coal plant. I am willing to bet the coal plant will spike higher.
"Coal ash is more radioactive than nuclear (power) waste" is a completely difference factual statement and is untrue by many orders of magnitude.
They can start up in around a minute to provide base-load at times when renewables are not able to provide enough energy
And also on the BBC today, on a lighter note: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-49165336
I think New Zealand also refused. NZ exports about two small trainloads a day from Christchurch I think.
Some small Pacific Islands are part of Australia and Australia also provides aid to some of the Pacific island nations.
Shale gas has been replacing coal: https://images.app.goo.gl/zb2bBfkBuAvWePVU6
Note that I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with being on welfare. But as a society I think we should decouple our determination of who deserves to be on welfare from our decision about how rapidly we want to destroy our environment.
In other words, let's just pay them normal food stamps or welfare checks, not keep the polluting plants open for decades longer than necessary.
For some reason many American workers feel totally proud being the indirect recipients of corporate welfare, yet would feel ashamed simply getting food stamps every month. There is zero difference between the two, except that in this case the food stamps are a LOT better for the environment.
or particularly better.
I am so glad the market is on our side for once.
It's been government regulations promoting renewables around the world which have helped drive demand. This in turn has led to Chinese factories ramping up and the overall cost dropping.
Same thing with electric cars. The current explosion in new models is being driven by EU regulations not consumer demand.
As an aside, new nuclear dropped from $119 to $90, and there are no new plants planned - small wonder, considering the massive cost and long time frame to build nuclear when wind and solar cost half as much and prices are still dropping like rocks.
The same can of course be said for the nuclear industry. Without massive R&D spending and cheap capital costs, nuclear energy would never have been viable. Today, wind and solar is beating both nuclear and coal, which is great. But perhaps The Market shouldn't get all the credit.
The really interesting thing is that solar/wind are becoming cheaper than coal, and will soon be cheaper than natural gas.
The Nanticoke Generating Station is a 44 MW solar power station which started operation in April 2019. Previously from 1972 to 2013, it was the largest coal-fired power plant in North America. At full capacity, it could provide 3,964 MW of power into the southern Ontario power grid from its base in Nanticoke, Ontario, Canada, and provided as much as 15% of Ontario's electricity.
There are only ~80,000 coal miners in the US now, which is 0.06% of the full-time employee population.
And you'll never be. You didn't learn from the lessons in the UK of the 60s through 80s when output dropped dramatically. It's taken decades of EU investment for places like the Welsh valleys to begin to recover.
Maybe that's why Toshiba thought it was a good idea to buy Westinghouse; that they could better manage American mega projects.
Solar and wind are cheap and are getting cheaper, which will make up for a lot of intermittency. If you want a career in energy, look into ways to exploit intermittent cheap sources. There's free money waiting to be picked up if you can do that.
This is of course a positive thing, but it was arrived at by the politically motivated near-total destruction of UK's mining industry in the 1980s (the then right wing Tory government wanted to destroy the heartland support of its left wing Labour opponents).
What was a socially divisive, bitter class struggle for years and years, that nearly brought down the government, is now a strategic masterstroke of climate change planning.
Life is odd.
Britain kept on using coal post strike and pit closures, it just bought foreign coal (not even necessarily cheaper) instead.
The Dash for Gas is what killed the use of coal for generation.
The decline in home coal use was directly correlated to the strike - and the decline in imported coal use is as much old plant and expensive marginal costs as the shift to gas.
At some point replacing the coal fired infrastructure stopped making economic sense - and with no political leverage the whole thing collapsed really quickly.
Something we might be happy to learn when looking at oil and gas generation - once solar prices and volume are there the industry just vanishes.
Also, the union density in mining in the US is not as high as it used to be (don't know what the exact figures are).
Yes Clinton won the popular vote. No unions are ridiculously under represented in the States (you need to fix that BTW)
But in the end seem from this side of the pond this was a political message - coal mining was a proxy for "proper American jobs for proper Americans without all this economics and climate change nonsense"
And that has a fairly sizeable base.
Whether trump will find that same base happy to swallow a similar message now he is the incumbent remains to be seen.
Also, it is great to see more and more usage of coal in products ranging from toothpaste all the way to food products.