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View Diary: Killing Coal - A Very Convenient Truth (108 comments)

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  •  Once closed are most being mothballed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama

    or "decommissioned"? I'm just wondering if it would be cost effective to resurrect these plants in ~10 years should the price of natural gas increase.

    •  Most of the plants are being truly decom'd (6+ / 0-)

      but the mines are definitely being put in an "idle" status ready to resume digging as soon as a market for coal reemerges.

      The plants are being disassembled for valuable parts and equipment.  Hatfields Ferry in PA for instance is no longer producing a watt of power, but has a sizable workforce still on payroll to handle this work.

      I tried find some information about future plans for the actual physical sites of some of these things, but there's not a lot out there about this.

      Im hoping TVA, being a federal corporation, will have to report on what they will do with the real estate somewhere where it will be public.

      Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

      by Wisper on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 10:42:03 AM PST

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    •  it's not just natural gas (8+ / 0-)

      The reality is that solar and wind are now more competitive than coal.

      Natural gas prices will probably increase starting in 2015 when we start exporting it in quantity, but solar costs will likely continue their downward trajectory.

      Coal companies are trying hard to open up export markets in China, Mexico.

      The sleep of reason brings forth monsters. --Goya

      by MadScientist on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 01:14:56 PM PST

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      •  Wind is a little higher. Solar is a LOT higher (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib, sturunner

        and does not have the capacity at this point to compete.

        The largest solar farm in the WORLD is in Yuma County, AZ.  The Agua Caliente Solar Project.  

        It currently has a capacity of 253 MW and expects to have 397 MW when it is finished being built.  Biggest in the WORLD!

        The largest outside the US is in India; the Charanka Solar Park that has a 221 MW capacity...but really this is 17 separate plants linked together with no single plant producing more than 25MW.

        Yet the average sized coal plant built back in the 70's that TVA just announced it was closing (Colbert Fossil Station in Alabama) had a 1,000 MW capacity.

        Wind will be able to ramp up to Utility scale in the very near future.  Solar is still a ways from being anything but a very small slice of the energy grid pie.

        Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

        by Wisper on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 04:06:14 PM PST

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        •  We don't need as much energy as we used to (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          murrayewv, deepeco, ozsea1, Egalitare, BYw

          IIRC, Per unit of economic output we are needing less energy inputs.  

          This is taking many forms.  Modern construction (even non-green) leeks less.  Office buildings are more efficient.  The next generation of LEDs are going to be more efficient than Florescent Tubes.  

          Demand reduction (negawats) will make a difference because retired dirty coal units will not need replacement because of reduced market demand.  

          I'm a 4 Freedoms Democrat.

          by DavidMS on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 04:56:57 PM PST

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        •  Solar is distributed, not centralized (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SouthernLeveller

          Solar will be on every rooftop, and it will provide a lot more power than we currently use.  The big centralized power plant will become a thing of the past.  We will all be producers, not consumers.

          More energy hits the surface of this planet in the form of sunlight every single day in the form of sunlight than will be burned by all fossil fuels combined over the lifetime of fossil fuels.  That's a fact.

          The thing that terrifies the big power companies about solar is that it removes the need for the big, centralized, controlled, profit-making plant.

          It will be sort of like how the Internet replaced the centralized switchboard.

          The meek shall inherit the Earth that the stupid destroyed.

          by CharlieHipHop on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 06:58:03 PM PST

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        •  A few notes (0+ / 0-)

          I agree with much of what you say. just wanted to note a few minor discrepancies.

          Ivanpah is running, and bigger than Agua Caliente today...

          Coal spot prices are misleading.  Actual delivered coal prices to power plants in the U.S. have been higher in 2013 than for any year in the past decade except 2011-2012, and are still much higher than 10 years ago (before they had followed gas prices upward).  Sticky prices for coal delivered under long term contracts for the coal and rail are actually a big part of why coal plant dispatch order has changed in the face of the shale gas glut.  If prices for coal floated, coal consumption would be down much less, gas and coal would both be much cheaper, and gas drilling and fracking would be stopped except where significant liquids content justified.

      •  MadS - until wind and solar are 24/7/365 (0+ / 0-)

        sources of reliable power they will not be cost competitive with natural gas.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 04:43:09 PM PST

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        •  Just repeating that does not make it so (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          deepeco, ozsea1, Egalitare, BYw

          Show us your numbers. And remember to factor in the national averages and variance in wind power, 24/7/365 when we finally get a nationally-connected smart grid. Or even the continental averages, including Canada and Mexico. Also technology for storing electricity from the sun for use at night. Solar thermal, for example, by its very nature stores heat in a working fluid when the sun is up, and that heat can be used for some time after the sun goes down to cover the end of the air-conditioning peak.

          Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

          by Mokurai on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 06:16:54 PM PST

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          •  We don't have that smart grid yet. (0+ / 0-)

            Each time someone runs the numbers, such as the NREL, solar comes out much, much higher than wind/coal/gas/nuke.

            In fact, the capital costs for concentrated solar thermal are higher per kW than nuclear:

            http://bv.com/...

            •  Once upon a time not so long ago... (0+ / 0-)

              ... we didn't have a dumb grid either.

              Lead, follow, or get out of the way on renewables.  They are the future, and if they're not, you're grandchildren will be shivering in a dark, irradiated nightmare world and will hate you.  Sorry, but that's just the truth, Ruth.

              The meek shall inherit the Earth that the stupid destroyed.

              by CharlieHipHop on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 06:59:54 PM PST

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          •  Optimistic (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mwm341

            Or naive wishful thinking.

            Energy storage is a big problem. The technology doesn't yet exist for a smart grid at a utility scale. Sure, I can put solar on my roof, and turn my meter backwards during the day, especially in the afternoon; but I like to use power at night, as well. Until viable energy storage is developed and implemented, power companies still need to keep on hand their traditional power plants, even if they have sufficient capacity for go all solar. (Or wind.)

            Of the renewables, only geothermal and biomass can provide 24/7 baseload power.

            And cost is a really important factor- now matter how green you are, you still don't want your power bill to increase by a factor of 10. If we give everyone a huge battery to charge during the day, and discharge at night (or when renewable isn't available) the cost would be astronomical.

            -5.38, -2.97
            The NRA doesn't represent the interests of gun owners. So why are you still a member?

            by ChuckInReno on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 03:12:40 AM PST

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      •  Natural gas is not really displacing coal (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ChuckInReno

        Power plants are using whichever fuel is the cheapest.

        See: U.S. utilities to burn more coal as natgas prices climb -traders

        World Resources Institute confirmed this:

        “Electricity markets are very dynamic, and while there’s been a lot of press about the success story of the benefits of natural gas, it’s important to realize that that’s temporary and it depends on gas prices staying really low, and we’re starting to see there are these thresholds where utilities will switch back to higher-carbon fuel, like coal.” Source
        •  Really bad! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Egalitare

          "I was not born for myself alone, but for my neighbor as well as myself."--Richard Overton, leader of the Levellers, a17th C. movement for democracy and equality during the English Civil War. http://www.kynect.ky.gov/ for healthcare coverage in Kentucky

          by SouthernLeveller on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 02:43:08 AM PST

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        •  Good news, or bad? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mwm341

          If I remember right, most Bangladeshis today still have no power. It is hard to begrudge them any source of power they can find. As one of the poorest countries in the world, they certainly cannot afford higher prices.

          I am very happy for the Banglaeshis who today don't have power, but soon will.

          For the planet's ecosystem, this is bad news.

          Maybe Americans who would criticize 3rd world countries for implementing coal would be willing to forgo all power?

          -5.38, -2.97
          The NRA doesn't represent the interests of gun owners. So why are you still a member?

          by ChuckInReno on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 03:15:33 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  With "no power" and having to employing... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SouthernLeveller

            ...multiple millions of dollars in creating base power from scratch why start with the dirty stuff? Bangladesh has more than sufficient wind and sun resources to build clean, and given the force of the outflows of the Ganges, it's probably an even more reliable flow and much more powerful source of low-head hydro power than the Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy (RITE) Project

            Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. --Martin Luther King Jr.

            by Egalitare on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 05:45:09 AM PST

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            •  Additionally, clearly there is some power (0+ / 0-)

              An 8 story building that collapsed on hundreds of garment workers probably wasn't being powered by elephants on treadmills, right?

              Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. --Martin Luther King Jr.

              by Egalitare on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 05:47:37 AM PST

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            •  Costs (0+ / 0-)

              If your only goal is to produce power, and you are even willing to cut corners on emissions, nothing, NOTHING is cheaper than coal. And this is a very poor country.

              Cost really does matter.

              -5.38, -2.97
              The NRA doesn't represent the interests of gun owners. So why are you still a member?

              by ChuckInReno on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:06:00 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

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