Obama administration effectively bans construction of future coal plants

CNBC explains. (H/T Bad Blue)

Excerpt:

The proposal would help reshape where Americans get electricity, away from a coal-dependent past into a future fired by cleaner sources of energy. It’s also a key step in President Barack Obama’s global warming plans, because it would help end what he called “the limitless dumping of carbon pollution” from power plants.

Although the proposed rule won’t immediately affect plants already operating, it eventually would force the government to limit emissions from the existing power plant fleet, which accounts for a third of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

[…]Despite some tweaks, the rule packs the same punch as one announced last year, which was widely criticized by industry and Republicans as effectively banning any new coal projects in the U.S.

That’s because to meet the standard, new coal-fired power plants would need to install expensive technology to capture carbon dioxide and bury it underground. No coal-fired power plant has done that yet, in large part because of the cost.

[…]”EPA has set a dangerous and far-reaching precedent for the broader economy by failing to base environmental standards on reliable technology,” said Hall Quinn, president and CEO of the National Mining Association. The EPA regulation “effectively bans coal from America’s power portfolio,” he said.

The first effect of this decision will be to put a lot of Americans out of work.

The second effect will be to cause electricity costs to skyrocket, exactly as Obama promised.

Excerpt:

Wind and solar energy are dilute, intermittent, and more costly than traditional hydrocarbon energy sources. After atmospheric absorption and system losses, only a single 100-watt bulb can be powered from a square meter of solar cells, and this only at midday on a cloudless day.  Wind towers must be spaced about 140 meters apart to capture energy from the wind.  As a result, solar requires 75 to 100 times the land and wind requires 150 to 250 times the land of traditional power sources.

Solar systems don’t output energy at night or at low angles of incoming sunlight.  Wind systems provide rated output less than 30% of the time and this output varies chaotically. Traditional gas or coal power plants must be running as an active backup to maintain continuity of electricity supply.  Like a car driving in stop-and-go conditions, installation of a wind farm converts the power system into a stop-and-go electrical system.  In measured real world conditions, combined wind and hydrocarbon systems use more fuel, output more sulfur and nitrogen oxides, and emit more carbon dioxide than hydrocarbon-only electrical systems.

Total cost estimates show that wind and solar systems are significantly more costly than hydrocarbon energy sources.  Since wind requires an active backup hydrocarbon facility, wind can only replace some of the variable cost of a coal or gas plant.  Department of Energy 2011 estimates place the variable cost of coal at 3 cents per kW-hr and gas at 5 cents per kW-hr, compared to 9 cents for on-shore wind and 24 cents for offshore wind.  Solar costs are 20 to 30 cents per kW-hr.

We’re getting what we voted for. We’ve had no significant global warming for 15 years, but that won’t stop the Democrats from saddling private industry with regulatory costs – costs that they will pass on to consumers. I would not be surprised if consumers (who after all mostly voted for Obama) blame the energy companies and never identify the root cause of the rising costs.

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