Black Times for Coal

January 11, 2016

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The Coal industry doesn’t just have a black heart, it has a fatal case of black lung as well.

Bloomberg:

China will stop approving new coal mines for the next three years and continue to trim production capacity as the world’s biggest energy consumer tries to shift away from the fuel as it grapples with pollution.

China will suspend the approval of new mines starting in 2016 and will cut coal’s share of its energy consumption to 62.6 percent next year, from 64.4 percent now, Xinhua News Agency reported Tuesday, citing National Energy Administration head Nur Bekri. It’s the first time the government has suspended the approval of new coal mines, according to Deng Shun, an analyst with ICIS China.

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Climate Central:

Coal production in the U.S. has dropped to its lowest level in 30 years thanks in part to low natural gas prices and climate policies encouraging utilities to switch to natural gas to generate electricity.

It was 1986 when coal production in the U.S. was as low as it is today, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data released Friday. Coal is the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change. Burning natural gas to generate electricity emits about half as much carbon dioxide as burning coal.

The data show the decline in coal production hasn’t been felt evenly across the country, however.

Appalachian coal, produced mainly in West Virginia and Kentucky, was hit the hardest in 2015, falling 40 percent below the region’s annual production average between 2010 and 2014.

Other coal-producing regions were less hard hit, with production falling between 10 and 20 percent last year.

Reuters:

Arch Coal Inc, the second-largest coal miner in the United States, and its domestic subsidiaries filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to facilitate a restructuring with a group of lenders that hold more than 50 percent of its debt, the company said.

Arch Coal said on Monday it reached an agreement with its lenders that will eliminate more than $4.5 billion in debt from the company’s balance sheet.

The company said it has sufficient capital to run its operations smoothly throughout the restructuring process, and expects mining operations and customer shipments to continue uninterrupted.

Arch Coal is the fourth coal miner, after Walter Energy Inc, Alpha Natural Resources Inc and Patriot Coal, to file for bankruptcy.

The Missouri-based company was widely expected to go bankrupt after delaying a $90 million interest payment due in December last year.

In November, it reported a $2 billion third-quarter net loss and said it could have trouble servicing a $5.1 billion debt.

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Terminal diagnosis?

 

 

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9 Responses to “Black Times for Coal”

  1. indy222 Says:

    Disturbing, though, that China’s big step away from coal came in the late ’80’s, and has only been incremental since then… incremental on a strongly accelerating total energy generation rate. So if you look instead at tons of coal burned per year over that same time frame, you’d see mostly a very strongly rising curve, not falling. So yeah, they want to clean up their air to avoid the People rioting and storming the capitol with torches, but so far it’s not worked, and the only silver lining is the choking clouds of sulfates reflect sunlight and have helped global warming be less awful than it is. Oh, and the smog is so thick that their Skynet (yeah) is having a hard time seeing through it to run their facial recognition software and identify “dissidents” (targeted for Termination??)


    • Memories of Tiananmen Square?

      I know you probably meant to be humorous, but regarding the effects of aerosols, for those who might have a dimmer understanding, please reflect…

      Aerosols reduce warming by reducing the sunlight that reaches the surface but result in worse drought than carbon emissions alone, and the longer carbon emissions continue the greater the load of aerosols required to cancel out the warming effects. Furthermore, once aerosols are removed global warming returns with a vengeance at a much as 20X the rate of warning in the absence of aerosols.

      Please see:

      Matthews, H. Damon, and Ken Caldeira. “Transient climate–carbon simulations of planetary geoengineering.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences104.24 (2007): 9949-9954.
      http://m.pnas.org/content/104/24/9949.full

      Furthermore, warming in Asia appears to have been exacerbated by aerosols due to the use of fossil fuel use rather than reduced.

      Please see:

      Ramanathan, V., et al. “Warming trends in Asia amplified by brown cloud solar absorption.” Nature 448 (2007).
      http://ramanathan.ucsd.edu/files/pr156.pdf

      • dumboldguy Says:

        You confuse the issue a bit with:

        “Aerosols reduce warming by reducing the sunlight that reaches the surface but result in worse drought than carbon emissions alone, and the longer carbon emissions continue the greater the load of aerosols required to cancel out the warming effects. Furthermore, once aerosols are removed global warming returns with a vengeance at a much as 20X the rate of warning in the absence of aerosols”.

        You need to take into account the effects of the aerosol soot (or black carbon), which greatly amplifies the warming caused by GHG. Removal of the black carbon would result in a rapid cooling effect, not warming, and it has been estimated that it would buy us 5 or 10 years to deal with the CO2 problem.

        I will again tout Fire and Ice, a book that discusses the soot issue and air pollution in South Asia.

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    More misleading graphs from a business-oriented publication.. Has anyone noticed the scale on the Y-axis?

    The data plot for China shows a decline not to zero but from 90% to 65%, and within that a very slow decline from 75% to 65% over a span of 25 years with a bump back up from 2005 and a recent decline that may have been caused in large part by the contraction of China’s economy. It proves little, and INDIA is the place we need to focus on anyway.

    The bar graph showing how much coal was mined in the U.S.doesn’t prove much either, although it IS more honest in where it starts the values on the Y-axis.

    Coal may be in big trouble in the U.S., but it’s not dead yet, and the rest of the world is where we should be looking for evidence. The next few years will tell.

    (And I will bore everyone by again saying that bright-sidedness and wishful thinking will be the death of the planet).

  3. mbrysonb Says:

    Last I checked, the Chinese economy was still growing– but slower than had been expected. Any transition away from coal will take years– the industry will be in trouble for a long while to come, as investors withdraw and bottom-feeders buy up companies looking for a bargain in an industry that isn’t dead yet– just dying.
    Things are different in India just now, but that too will change — air quality in their cities is very bad, and renewables look better and better…

    • dumboldguy Says:

      You need to do some checking on China today, and here’s a good place to start—-“China’s financial mayhem resounds”—-top story on the front page of today’s Washington Post.

      http://www.pressreader.com/usa/the-washington-post/20160112/281496455277399/TextView

      China is in trouble, and, since China is the key player in the wave of globalization we have seen over the past couple of decades, it’s like loosening the keystone in an arch. COP21 will go nowhere fast if the world is thrown into another great recession (which will be brought on by the failure of the capitalist–free market-growth model), and some of the poor and developing countries in Africa, Asia, and SA will suffer the most.

      PS Whenever the SHTF economy-wise, and the economists and “business experts” start pontificating about it, I am always reminded of the joke from Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Samuelson. “Economists (via the stock markets) have successfully predicted nine of the last five recessions”


  4. […] Black Times for Big Coal: (Climate Crocks): The Coal industry doesn’t just have a black heart, it has a fatal case of black lung as well. […]


  5. Reblogged this on A Green Road Daily News and commented:
    Coal is dead end energy

    Oil is dead end energy

    Gas is dead end energy

    Nuclear is dead end energy

    Keep up the good work. 🙂


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