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Bloomberg Don’t Understand Why China Needs Coal

November 2, 2022

By Paul Homewood


h/t Philip Bratby





China is building a vast array of new coal-fired power stations, potentially more than the operating capacity of the US, even though it knows the plants will probably never be fully used.

The puzzle of why the world’s leading installer of clean energy is investing so much in the worst polluting — and increasingly expensive — fossil fuel shows the depth of Beijing’s concern over the global squeeze in energy supplies. But it also reflects planning for a gradual relegation of coal’s role, from prime power source to a widely available but often idle backup to China’s rapidly expanding renewables fleet.

Who writes this drivel?

There is only one reason why China is still building new coal plants – that is because they know that they need dispatchable power, and not intermittent renewables. Even if you believe Xi’s promise to hit net zero by 2060, they will still need lots of coal power in the meantime. Much of its older coal capacity will be long gone by then.

In addition, rising demand for electricity cannot be wholly met by wind and solar power.

As for this “rapidly expanding renewables fleet”, does not Bloomberg actually check the data? Wind and solar power still only account for a tiny 11% of electricity generation.

  1. November 2, 2022 3:38 pm

    Even if you believe Xi’s promise to hit net zero by 2060, they will still need lots of coal power in the meantime.

    They will still need lots of coal after 2060 whatever the amount of renewables they have by then, unless their ideas change and they want to risk part-time power all over the place like some other foolish countries.

  2. Martin Brumby permalink
    November 2, 2022 3:48 pm

    Of course, Michael Bloomberg is a very rich, hubristic, weapons grade nitwit who likes to imagine he understands the Climate.

    A bit like His Majesty or Rishi Sunak, in fact.

    • November 2, 2022 4:10 pm

      Re: The Buckingham Palace pathetic CO27 lookalike.

      Please don’t mention King Charles – The Monarch turned Politician’—- it turns me purple with anger as he destroys in a week the very principles his mother devoutly adhered to throughout her life.

      Who wants a lousy Politician as a MONARCH? Heaven knows we’ve got enough of them in the world already .

      We desperately need someone to represent those instinctive yet unwritten values that we all have way way above the grubby political scene we see around us.
      It seems that Charles III our Monarch has just chucked it all in the bin.

      • devonblueboy permalink
        November 2, 2022 4:36 pm

        Exactly so. But his hypocritical idiot was always going to ignore the ‘no meddling’ approach of his Mother. Rather like his moral standards, which count for nothing when he wants a bit on the side, him being the defender of faiths too.

  3. November 2, 2022 3:50 pm

    Please tell Bloomberg that the Thermodynamic Laws requires Renewables to have approximately a similar Capacity of Dispatchable Energy available on standby if 24/7/365 reliable energy is required.

    An O level engineering primer would tell them that.

  4. markl permalink
    November 2, 2022 3:52 pm

    Without storage wind and solar produced electricity is not viable as a reliable energy source. Everyone knows that yet they keep clamoring for more. The notion that “we’ll use the wind and solar power when available” only means we must keep fossil backup in spinning reserve or provide a nuclear energy source.

    • John Hultquist permalink
      November 2, 2022 4:37 pm

      I question why this “storage” concept has gotten so popular. It has become an axiom of the Climate Cult just as has the underling belief that CO2 is heating (killing) the planet. Neither of these can be justified; both are wrong.
      Occasionally the intermittent facilities pump out more electrons than can be used locally. With proper transmission lines in place that extra may be moved elsewhere. However there is not now and never will be enough production to support a modern society and (repeat – and) at the same time fill a storage medium – not yet invented – to support that same economy for 3, 4, or 5 weeks of near zero output from the intermittent producers.
      Petroleum, coal and uranium are good energy storage mediums. If there is anything being developed in some research laboratory that is better – the proponents need to put it out there and show the arithmetic.

      • Gamecock permalink
        November 2, 2022 9:15 pm

        C’mon, man, ‘storage’ is the cure for intermittency.

        Yeah, it’s ridiculous, but that’s why they keep touting it.

      • Chaswarnertoo permalink
        November 3, 2022 8:16 am

        Because the Chinese Are not greentards…

  5. Dave Andrews permalink
    November 2, 2022 4:40 pm

    Modern coal plants have low emissions and are pretty clean eg,High Efficiency Low Emissions (HELE) and Advanced Ultra Supercritical (A-USC). GE have also developed Steam H which is even more efficient and for it and A-USC start up time from cold is now less than 30 minutes.

    These are nothing like the old coal fired power stations of the past. Lots of details at a 4 part series by Anton Lang at PA Pundits.

    links to other parts in part 1

    • November 3, 2022 7:47 am


      you can’t start a steam turbine in 30 minutes, it needs a gradual warm up from cold while rotating it.

      As grid requirements are known and large variations in demand measured in months not minutes, I don’t really see a quick start up of a boiler is very useful?

      • Nial permalink
        November 3, 2022 10:13 am

        “As grid requirements are known and large variations in demand measured in months not minutes, I don’t really see a quick start up of a boiler is very useful?”

        Are you being deliberately obtuse?

        Variations in demand are reasonably predictable, wind isn’t.

      • dave permalink
        November 3, 2022 1:55 pm

        “Variations in overall demand are reasonably predictable, wind isn’t.”

        To make it clearer to Dave Andrews:

        Variations in the immediate effective demand for the electric power produced by one means of production, such as coal stations, as the power produced by another means of production, such as wind or solar, suddenly changes (in which case the immediate effective demand for the second means of production is subject to force majeure) are not predictable, even from moment to moment.

        “Who writes this [MSM, Bloomberg] drivel?”


        More importantly, who reads it? And I am afraid the answer to that question is that it is most of our middle-ranking policy-makers in every field – who then spoon-feed their bosses with concentrated drivel. Institutional naivety is everywhere!

      • Micky R permalink
        November 3, 2022 10:23 pm

        Coal-fired is best used for base load, but can be used on a two-shift system. Some modern coal-fired can load follow and can match CCGT for ramp up from warm, but not ramp-up from cold.

        While there is no general agreement regarding how to define hot, warm and cold starts, in this study the following definitions are used:
        Hot start: 48 h since plant shutdown

      • Micky R permalink
        November 3, 2022 10:57 pm

        ” Hot start: 48 h since plant shutdown ” No. Formatting failed, trying again (from Table 3 in the sciencedirect link)

        Hot start is less than 8 h since plant shutdown

        Warm start is between 8 and 48 h since plant shutdown

        Cold start is more than 48 h since plant shutdown

      • Gerry, England permalink
        November 4, 2022 11:25 am

        I spent a chilly weekend at the BASF plant on Seal Sands many years ago doing a life assessment on the windings of a steam driven generator. They had shut down the generator at the end of the Friday working day ready for us on Saturday. We had a few problems and so we finally finished our work at 9pm on Sunday night. We left the onsite crew to start the process of warming it up ready to run at 9am the next morning. So a 12 hour heating period.

  6. November 2, 2022 5:12 pm

    China has a lot of domestic coal but not much oil or natural gas. That would explain their use of coal. The war in Ukraine may change this as China my become Russia’s best natural gas and oil customer.
    China is the world’s biggest industrial power house and they know reliable dispatchable power is an essential element of a modern industrial economy. They are happy to supply the green energy systems that the west will use to power their economies as they turn post-industrial. China will continue to use their manufacturing prowess and energy price advantages to dominate industrial markets.
    What I don’t understand is how can the Bloomberg correspondent can be so oblivious to what China is doing to developed western economies in the name of eco virtue. Its pretty clear that they are taking advantage of climate anxiety and their country’s classification as a developing economy. Even the Washington Post recognizes this.

  7. Athelstan permalink
    November 2, 2022 6:23 pm

    Mr. Bloomberg doesn’t employ people who’d defy his green ambition. Thus we are showered with a great deal and prolonged proverbial, desperately one eyed opinion issuing from malnourished minds.

  8. Gamecock permalink
    November 2, 2022 9:19 pm

    ‘The puzzle of why the world’s leading installer of clean energy is investing so much in the worst polluting’

    Two things:

    o Bloomyberg seems not to understand that people do things to make money.

    o Note that all that ‘clean energy’ is built by ‘the worst polluting.’

  9. Wade Gabriel permalink
    November 3, 2022 6:51 am

    China needs all the coal burning plants to process all the raw materials, smelt all the metals, manufacture and transport all the solar panels and storage batteries that they’re selling to Europe and the US.

  10. November 3, 2022 7:52 am


    surely China will not tell the world that renewables are useless and destroy their economy while they benefit from that destruction. The cost of building renewables in China is a small price to pay to prolong the West’s delusion and make them think that China believes the ‘Anthropogenic Climate Change’?

  11. Harry Passfield permalink
    November 3, 2022 9:55 am

    A classic line in an article I read this morning describing the hysterical pre-COP27 meeting, saying, among other things that major glaciers will disappear within 10 years or so and that the World “had to fight the fact that climate was affecting our weather”! (Face/Palm!)

    • Gerry, England permalink
      November 3, 2022 11:32 am

      And as if ANY of their predictions over the last 30 or more years has ever come true.

  12. Gerry, England permalink
    November 3, 2022 11:33 am

    A good example of why not to use Bloomberg as a source of financial information for investing other than to do the opposite of what they say.

  13. Shalewatcher permalink
    November 3, 2022 4:35 pm

    President Xi has made it clear the that, although he has made some long-term commitments to reduce fossil fuel use, his major priority, above all else, is economic growth and especially “common prosperity” for the Chinese people. Carbon reduction is not going to get in the way of that. Modi, in India, is equally committed to economic growth as a priority. Given these realities any efforts by the U.K. o reduce carbon is simply spitting into a gale.

  14. Jack Broughton permalink
    November 3, 2022 8:03 pm

    Was not the Chinese INDC that they would improve their economic reductions i.e. tonnes CO2 / GDP. This is easy for a country that has growth and means no reductions as the tonnes CO2 / GDP reduces: our ratio will certainly get worse if we do not get fracking and GDP goes into free-fall.

  15. November 4, 2022 11:13 am

    Another pre COP27 FIASCO article for the WackerPacker Bin

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