Another record being established

By: hcubed , 7:47 PM GMT on July 28, 2012

I suppose this will make the warmists and the counters leap with joy: A record-high 57 coal-fired generators in the US will shut down in 2012.

At the same time, China will be partnering with Romania to build a single coal plant in Bralia.

57 out, one replacement. Not bad - so far.

Source for the 57 closures: 57 closures

Source for the single replacement in Romania: Single replacement

It's deeper than that, though:

"...Facing declining demand for electricity and stiff federal environmental regulations, coal plant operators are planning to retire 175 coal-fired generators, or 8.5 percent of the total coal-fired capacity in the United States, according to an analysis by the Energy Information Administration (EIA)..."

*** See that bolded part? Stiff federal environmental regulations. 175 coal fired plants.

How much electrical energy is that? According to the source:

"...A record-high 57 generators will shut down in 2012, representing 9 gigawatts of electrical capacity, according to EIA. In 2015, nearly 10 gigawatts of capacity from 61 coal-fired generators will be retired..."

So those 118 plants listed there take out a total of 19GW of power.

The Chinese/Romanian replacement? Try 500MW.

I do wonder what stiff federal environmental regulations they'll follow in Romania.

But the story goes on.

Another source states how busy the Chinese are at home:

BEIJING — China's Shenhua Group will build the largest coal-fired power station in Asia over the next five years, the official Xinhua news agency said Tuesday, as the country struggles to meet its energy needs.

China's biggest coal company and officials in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region signed a deal for the 8-gigawatt thermal plant on Monday, according to Xinhua and the local government's website..."

Source here: Chinese plant

So we knock out a total of 175 plants with a power output of somewhere around 19GW, and they build a SINGLE plant that puts out 8GW.

But wait, there's more:

"...While many of those coal plants are old and relatively inefficient, the scope of this new planned shutdown is unprecedented.

“The coal-fired capacity expected to be retired over the next five years is more than four times greater than retirements performed during the preceding five-year period,” EIA noted in the analysis.

The generators that will be retired between 2012 and 2016 are “approximately 12% more efficient than the group of units, on average, that retired during 2009-2011,” according to the EIA..."

*** Key phrase - unprecedented.

But read that again - on average, the plants to be shut down are 12% MORE efficient than those older plants they've retired.

Seems efficiency wasn't considered - we're just replacing plants fueled with those "coal trains of death".

What else besides stiff environmental regulations could be driving the retirement of more efficient power plants?

Well, there's this:

"...The low price of natural gas resulting from the shale boom has led to reduced coal consumption and made the shutdowns necessary, experts say..."

Natural gas. The country that is number 6 in world proven reserves (5,977,000 million cu m) beats China's number 15 (2,265,000 million cu m).

Bottom line is still the gov't, though.

"...But federal and state regulations have also damaged the industry and contributed to plant closures.

“The cost of compliance with anticipated and existing Federal environmental regulations such as the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) is a factor,” the EIA noted. “Particularly in the case of older, smaller units that are not used heavily, owners may conclude it is more cost efficient to retire plants rather than make additional investments.”

Most of the coal-fired generator retirements will occur in the Mid-Atlantic, Ohio River Valley and the Southeast..."

*** I'm going to Google the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), and see how the Chinese plants are going to abide by those.

Oh, wait - they don't have to. Never mind.


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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About hcubed

Living in Biloxi MS, have been here since '85 (first Hurricane was Elena).