Archive for the ‘coal’ Category

As US coal use drops to 1979 levels, EPA may ease rules on new coal plants

December 5th, 2018
Uncovered coal trains

Enlarge / An eastbound Norfolk Southern Corp. unit coal train passes through Waddy, Kentucky. (credit: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Trump administration's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) appears poised to roll back Obama-era rules that effectively prevented new coal plants from opening in the US. The rules required new coal plants to emit no more than 1,400 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour (MWh), a constraint that is nearly impossible for new coal generators to meet without carbon-capture technology.

According to anonymous sources speaking to The New York Times, the EPA will announce a rollback of this rule on Thursday, effectively making it possible for energy companies to build new coal plants that emit up to 1,900 pounds of CO2 per MWh, which is more in-line with emissions from modern coal plants without carbon capture.

Although the Obama-era regulations didn't prohibit the construction of new coal plants, opponents of the rules said the carbon-emissions caps were an effective prohibition, because carbon-capture projects are few and far between and are quite expensive to implement.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Biz & IT, coal, Energy, Policy, Trump | Comments (0)

Coal plant closures double in 2018, coal production flat or down

November 29th, 2018
Trump coal rally

Enlarge / US President Donald Trump speaks during a political rally at Charleston Civic Center in Charleston, West Virginia on August 21, 2018. (credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

In 2018, 14.3 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired capacity was retired, up from 7 GW retired in 2017. That constitutes the second-biggest year for coal-fired capacity retirement since 2015, according to new research from S&P Global Market Intelligence. In 2015, 14.7 GW of coal-fired capacity was retired.

The Trump Administration campaigned on its ability to save coal by cutting back Obama-era regulations, but in 2017 a Department of Energy-commissioned report gave the Administration some bad news: environmental regulations aren’t what’s killing coal, economics are. According to a recent report from market research firm Lazard on the leveled cost of energy, building new renewable energy is currently cheaper than paying marginal costs for many coal plants. And innovations in fracking have dropped the cost of US natural gas far below that of coal.

As the US coal fleet ages, utilities and energy companies are incentivized to replace old coal plants with natural gas plants and renewable energy.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in coal, Energy, natural gas, Policy, renewables, science | Comments (0)

Trump’s coal rescue is getting more complicated

October 16th, 2018
Uncovered coal trains

Enlarge / An eastbound Norfolk Southern Corp. unit coal train passes through Waddy, Kentucky. (credit: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

According to four people who spoke to Politico on conditions of anonymity, the Trump administration's plan to bail out coal and nuclear plants has hit a speed bump within the White House itself.

The most recent plan from the Department of Energy (DOE) involved invoking the Defense Production Act of 1950, a wartime rule that allows the president to incentivize and prioritize purchases from American industries that are considered vital to national security.

Another potential plan involved invoking Section 202(c) of the Federal Power Act to mandate that struggling coal and nuclear plants stay open either through compulsory purchases by grid managers or through subsidies. FirstEnergy, a power corporation whose coal and nuclear units are under Chapter 11 bankruptcy, petitioned the DOE to use this power in April.

Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in coal, electricity, Energy, Exports, fossil fuels, Nuclear, Policy, renewables, science | Comments (0)

Rick Perry’s “baseload” study released, offers a lifeline to coal, nuclear

August 24th, 2017

Enlarge / DUNKIRK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES – 2016/10/09: A NRG owned coal fired energy facility that plans to convert to a natural gas facility. (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images) (credit: Getty Images)

The US Department of Energy (DOE) released a report late Wednesday night recommending that power markets revise how they value coal and nuclear power. The report also admits that low natural gas prices are a primary cause of recent coal plant closures.

The report has been controversial since its inception. In mid-April, Energy Secretary Rick Perry directed his team to study grid reliability and security for 60 days. Although the memo never mentioned renewables, it implicated “certain policies” that apparently unfairly threatened coal-burning plants.

That led critics to wonder whether renewable energy—critical for the mitigation of climate change—would get a fair shake in Perry’s study. Grid operators have been able to put a fair amount of renewable energy on the grid without reliability suffering, but the tone of Perry’s memo suggested that a conclusion contradicting that fact had been predetermined.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in baseload study, coal, Department of Energy, grid, renewable, Rick Perry, science | Comments (0)