Coal-power boom falters in stampede to alternative sources

Wed, 2008-03-12 10:13Bill Miller
Bill Miller's picture

Coal-power boom falters in stampede to alternative sources

The race to coal-fired plants is falling behind the competition as global warming drives the steady shift to more planet-friendly fuels.

About 45 coal-fired power plants were either cancelled or delayed in the past 12 months, according to the US Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory, reversing the craving for coal plants.

Natural-gas and renewable projects have now outpaced coal plants, according to Global Energy Decisions. Non-coal plans total more than 70,000 megawatts while coal has dropped to just 66,000 megawatts in the pipeline.

About 28 coal-fired power plants already under construction are moving forward, as are plant expansions. But for six other facilities “near construction,” their fate has become unknown. Another 80 plants “in development” may be cancelled outright. Last year, Texas utility TXU canceled eight of its planned 11 coal-fired power plants.

Alternative sources are stepping into the breach. Texas is now number one for wind-power with Kansas not far behind. Indeed, the Kansas wind-power industry is growing so fast, companies there cannot find enough qualified workers.

California is deriving significant energy from geo-thermal. Thin-film solar strips are rapidly taking up roof space. Moreover, co-generation has become increasingly popular as heat from machines is captured and returned to the grid or other users.

Hence, alternative sources are slowly but surely burning into industry’s demand for the dirty, health hazardous fuel that is coal.

Previous Comments

Why don’t we all just save some time, and seriously consider the truly clean alternatives? Electric is clean, and the technology is really catching up with other fuel’s technologies. Zap has a new electric car that does 0-60 in 4.8 seconds!

You need to think about how that electricity is produced. In some places electricity is produced by coal plants, so it is not clean.

Actually many of us who are planning to convert existing cars to EVs or who are already driving EV’s do consider the sources of our electricity and it turns out that even when using dirty nasty coal you still produce less green house gasses than a Prius. Sherry Boschert has collected 40 research studies and put it all in a 2006 book called, “Plug-in Hybrids: The Cars That Will Recharge America.” 7 of the studies show a 17% - 35% reduction in CO2 emissions over internel combusion engine vehicles using coal exclusively to power the grid. See her website at: and check page 3. Only two others found no reduction and none indicated more emissions of CO2.

That’s good to know, and I’m all in favour of electric cars when people need to drive. But we also need to push for the electricity sources to be made cleaner.

Edited to add: there is also the Zenn car, which Rick Mercer tried out on his show a while ago.

Good to hear about coal. I was disappointed to learn from an old DOE paper that higher oil prices stimulate renewable energy generation but this is cancelled out by increased coal generation. An oil price signal does not take into account societal costs, but if coal is eliminated as a power generation option, at least an oil price signal alone would partially account the positive societal effects of renewable energy.

One big obstacle to renewable cars is they are illegal in many Canadian provinces. The federal government has done nothing to address this. Some of the provinces have. At worst, they could be banned on highway routes, but given that scooters and mopeds and motorcycles travel the same routes (motorcyclists pay part of their healthcare higher-accident-rate costs with higher insurance premiums), what’s the problem? Provincial governments pay most of the health care costs of higher smog rates, so why not let electric cars get premium road access, say, permission to travel the bicycle/transit/carpool lanes? Canada could have (or is it already could have had) leadership of one of the biggest industries in the decades ahead. But this is just like the Avro Arrow; we will probably wind up 6th in the world in electric car manufacturing. Zenn could already have been well in position to be the next GM. How many other Canadian industries are already dinosaurs and don’t know it, thanks to the Conservatives (who would probably be in majority if the 1st 1% GST cut was instead used to meet Kyoto or even to make “green goods” GST exempt)?

Hi Bill, I don’t know if you like the IPCC but stating coal fired power stations are “dirty, health hazardous fuel that is coal” isn’t within policy. Dr Pachuari, President of the IPCC is well against America or Europe having CFPS but ‘let slip’ shall we say that Indias half a billion poor who have no electricity should have CFPS’s built to electrify them (no wonder no Republicans bowled up when Dr Rasputin appeared at the Senate Committee recently - there’s only so much ‘BS’ the Americans can take eh?).

Here’s the link to the BBC interview.

So Europe and American energy strangled while India powers ahead with a new power grid being built as big as both continents grids combined. So much for ‘stalling’ as you say!!

I’m sure Dr. Pachuari didn’t put a gun on TXU’s head and ask it to axe its coal plant projects, so I don’t know what you’re smoking.

Frank Bi, fact-addict and anti-lie bigot

“Al `Fat Al’ Gore [is fat]” – Harold Pierce

Frank Bi, who mentioned Al Gore?!! Yes the IPCC president Dr Pachuari in the BBC interview mentions a coal fired power grid as big as Europes and Americas combined without batting an eye-lid at the hypocracy of asking us to cut CO2 emissons but I didn’t mention Al Gore then jumps in quicker than a capatalist with a plug for BP to build them!

In fact Al Gore, that’s the $30,000 a year on household electricity private jet flying to climate conference Al Gore, is such a figure of stupidity and such a joke I don’t even bother to mention the guy. He’s an idiot and too easy to poke fun at. Nobel Prize my backside. His film has more BS in it than a bull farm.

Do you mean the one that after renovations was awarded the LEED Gold Certification?
1 of only 14 in the entire US?
The house that also has offices for both Mr Gore AND his wife Tipper PLUS their staff?

Tom, that’s the house. it has a Rolls Royce in the drive, and a Limo waiting for him to take him to the private jet to zip off to London for his carbon-fraud, sorry credits company or a climate conference with his Greenpeace buddies.

Al Gore private jet man

Al Gore Zinc Miner

Al Gore carbon offsets his own wallet

Al Gore ‘Class A’ polluter

Al Gore refuses to take Energy Ethics pledge

Al Gore Oil shareholder

Al Gore home electricity bill 20x national average

Al Gore house a ‘sweet deal’

Al Gore - 35 Inconvenient Truths

I’m surprised anyone pays this gur $3,000 for a green speech, he’s a total loser!

‘Dr Pachuari, President of the IPCC … ’ wah, wah, wah; crocodile tears

Maybe the Bush Administration should have supported American biologist Watson for a second term, instead of shoving energy engineer Pachuari down the IPCC’s throat.
They never quite learn - reality’s a bitch.

In today’s era, poverty and famine seems to be a common cause of deprivation but you can make a difference. Everyone is so busy with their work, careers, study, business and others. Transportation is a great requirement of modern living.  However, just because you need it doesn’t mean you have to let GM or any one else’s marketing department tells you how to do it. If you let them tell you how to do everything, you will need cash advance loans just to be able to get to work every day.  For instance, you could carpool.  Lots of people do it and have done so for a long time.  Also, if you live close enough to work, you can start riding a bike.  No gas and you get in better shape.  (Win – win.)  There’s also public transport, and all of these are cheaper modes of transportation.

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