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US Coal Consumption Up 17% In 2021

January 17, 2022
tags: ,

By Paul Homewood

Meanwhile in Sleepy Joe’s US:



So much for the myriad claims about going “beyond coal.” According to a new report from the Rhodium Group, U.S. coal consumption jumped by 17 percent last year compared to 2020 levels. That’s a huge increase, which Rhodium says was “largely driven by a run-up in natural gas prices.” Rather than burn gas, which averaged about $4.93 per million Btu last year — more than two times the price in 2020 — many electricity producers chose to burn coal instead.

The surge in domestic coal use is significant for two reasons. First, it proves again that coal remains an essential fuel for electricity producers both here in the U.S. and around the world. Second, it shows that the Biden administration’s pledge to decarbonize the electric grid by 2035 is little more than wishful thinking.

Hate coal if it makes you happy, but the reality is that power producers have relied on it ever since Thomas Edison used it to fuel the world’s first central power plant in Lower Manhattan in 1882. Indeed, the jump in domestic consumption is part of a surge in global demand for coal, which still accounts for about 36 percent of global electricity generation. Last month, the International Energy Agency reported that “global coal power generation is on course to increase by 9 percent in 2021 to 10,350 terawatt-hours (TWh) — a new all-time high.” The agency also reported that “coal demand may well hit a new all-time high in the next two years.”

The increase in coal use provides yet more evidence for what I call the “Iron Law of Electricity,” which says that “People, businesses and countries will do whatever they have to do to get the electricity they need.” That law was on display in November, at the COP26 summit in Glasgow where India, China and other developing countries rejected a deal that called for a “phase-out” of coal-fired power plants. Instead, the final Glasgow agreement called for countries to “phase down” their use of the carbon-heavy fuel.

While Asian countries account for the biggest share of global coal use — China alone uses more than half the world’s coal — the Iron Law of Electricity also applies to Europe and Japan. During the third quarter of 2021, coal’s share of Germany’s electricity mix increased by 5.5 percent over the same period in 2020. That increase was due, in part, to lower production from the country’s wind-energy sector. France, which usually gets about 70 percent of its electricity from nuclear plants, is also considering burning more coal to replace some of the juice that it was getting from several reactors that have been shut down for repairs. Meanwhile, Japan is planning to build some 21 coal-fired power plants with a total capacity of more than 12,000 megawatts over the next decade or so.

  1. January 17, 2022 9:07 pm

    The reality is that it is said that you can’t make bricks wothout straw.

    IThat is, mercifully, the Achilles heel of the whole scam of net zero

  2. John Segreto permalink
    January 17, 2022 9:51 pm

    Actions have consequences. What did you expect?

  3. Gamecock permalink
    January 17, 2022 10:11 pm

    “Iron Law of Electricity,” which says that “People, businesses and countries will do whatever they have to do to get the electricity they need.”

    The world is more complicated than that.

    Mr Bryce’s Iron Law is fixing to run into politicians’ pandering. They’ll trot out price controls, to “help” the public, and supply will go to heck.

    “The solution to bad government is more government.”

  4. markl permalink
    January 17, 2022 10:40 pm

    The entire world is using more coal. For every coal plant decommissioned China, India, and other nations are building 4 (?) to replace them.

  5. David Wojick permalink
    January 18, 2022 12:08 am

    Nice to see a skeptical opinion coming from the great green Hill. Here’s hoping for a whole lot more.

  6. John Hultquist permalink
    January 18, 2022 12:51 am

    Is coal cheaper than the wood being burned by DRAX?
    When will the use of primary wood be banned?

  7. Graeme No.3 permalink
    January 18, 2022 5:15 am

    China needed imports to fuel growing demand for electricity, so the demand for gas went up, as did the price. Meanwhile wind generation fell and Europe needed gas, so up went the demand (and price). The EU decided to ‘punish” Russia by not opening NordStream2. Norway suddenly realised that they might need more gas to get through a cold winter, so reduced supply. Up went the price. The higher price resulted in some shipments of gas from the USA, reducing local supply so with the demand for electricity not reduced the generators in the USA switched back to cheaper coal.
    Quick, repeal the law of supply and demand. I’m sure the Greens will try that. It won’t work (like renewables) but they never learn.

    • Julian Flood permalink
      January 18, 2022 9:22 am

      Law of supply and demand? You obviously are not aware of the new ‘guidance for cost control’ which has superseded that old-fashioned nonsense. By placing a price cap on how much an energy company can charge for its electricity, the consumer is shielded from the manipulations of gas/coal/oil/wind/solar/hydro barons and can relax knowing that by repealing the law of supply and demand HMG has made things much… err… worse.


  8. Mack permalink
    January 18, 2022 9:39 am

    Meanwhile, back on Planet Zero, I heard a nauseatingly uncritical interview on Radio 4 last night with the boss of Scottish Power, positively salivating after his company’s successful bid at the Scottish Crown Estate 10GW wind farm auction. Think of all those lovely subsidies getting hoovered up for decades to come. Ching ching. What’s not to like, unless you are a hapless bill payer shivering to death during periodic winter doldrums?

    • dennisambler permalink
      January 18, 2022 10:59 am

      Charles will be happy, Crown Estates revenue is now a significant part of Royal Funding.

  9. January 18, 2022 11:59 am

    Good news for West Virginia!! Also, as President Trump stated, it is hard to destroy coal. Pipelines can be cut. Solar and wind which are unreliable can also be easily tampered with and can other forms or energy. But with coal, you just pile it up to use.

  10. Vernon E permalink
    January 18, 2022 12:01 pm

    There have been a lot of navel-gazing posts recently about the extent that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and how it affects climate but the point is that its irrelevant. There is nothing we can do about it. As Paul’s coloured chart last week so convincingly illustrated our emissions are insignificant. We don’t have a dog in the race. Our government should stop the virtue signalling and get on with maintaining prosperity in the the country.

    • Penda100 permalink
      January 18, 2022 1:39 pm

      But virtue signalling gives you a warm glow and it’s so much easier than actually running an advanced economy successfully.

    • jimlemaistre permalink
      January 18, 2022 5:46 pm

      Mr. Vernon E . . . I agree !

      I take an historical overview of life on Planet Earth. I ask, if 9 Warming Periods and 8 Cooling Periods have occurred absent any real fluctuations in CO2 measurements, how can our current Warming Period, suddenly now, be caused by Man-Made CO2 ? This is way outside the clinical discussion. Intentionally, I ask this question, because it establishes the ‘Irrelevance’ of ANY debate founded by ‘False Assumptions’ initiated by Michael Mann and his ‘MBH 99 proxy Calibrations’ dating back almost 30 years and long ago disproven.

      Historical Climate fluctuations in the Holocene can all be linked back to COLD Climate Change. These without exception were brought about by Massive Volcanoes above VEI 6. Their Global effect on life, prosperity, food production, hygiene and wide spread disease are well known and well documented from Europe North America and Asia.

      To defeat the CO2 debate is to render the debate Null. Absent any relevance in the last 10,000 years CO2 has NO place in the discussion regarding current Climate Change whatsoever.

      Environmentalists are ‘Hell Bent’ on destroying the Fossil Fuel industry. Burning Fossil Fuels pollutes the Earth. The One and only thing we Can Not remove is CO2 . . . therefore blame CO2 and . . . the industry will die. Entering this debate feeds the Environmentalist Propaganda Machine. ‘Climate Skeptics’ need to Prove that CO2 is irrelevant in Climate Change from the historical record and move to Clean Up what is attached to CO2 as the real REMEDY for the deplorable effluent produced by our incessant pollution from Industrial Infrastructure Globally.

      REAL pollution . . .

      1. Sulfur dioxide (SO2), which contributes to acid rain and respiratory illnesses.

      2. Nitrogen oxides (NOx), which contribute to smog and respiratory illnesses.

      3. Particulates, which contribute to smog, haze, and respiratory illnesses and lung disease.

      4. Mercury and other heavy metals linked to neurological and developmental damage.

      5. Fly ash and bottom ash, that are residues created when power plants burn Coal.

      95 % or more can be removed with Electrostatic Precipitators special burners to remove Nitrogen Oxide and scrubbers that remove 99% of solid particles from the flue gases. Common sense solutions. Pages 7 & 8 . . .

      Skeptics (I prefer the term Naturalists) Must Stop feeding the Elitist Environmentalist Fetish that CO2 or that it has any effect on Climate Change. Instead PROVE that it has NEVER had ANY effect, look at history, then move to clean up the REAL Noxious effluent from industrial infrastructure Globally . . . With Public Money, Please . . .

      Furthermore, today in what is described as ‘An Inter Glacial Period’, The Holocene, we are having a reprieve from the incessant Violence brought upon the World by Volcanoes. Planet Earth is Warm for only the second time in 250 thousand years. This Warming Period permits Food Production in the Prairies, Europe and China. Places where 10 kilometers of Ice usually would stand. For little more than 10 thousand years Humanity has had it good. Life for 7 billion people is possible. A mere 25 million souls occupied Equatorial regions of the Earth when Volcanoes and Ice Ruled the World. Let us learn to give thanks to Global Warming and learn to respect Nature as the Supreme Ruler of Climate and of True ‘Climate Change’ on our Little Blue Planet. Humans are just along for the ride . . .

      My Thoughts . . .

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