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Joe Deely's picture
Partner Deely Group

Involved with high-tech for last 30 years. Interested in energy.

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  • Aug 5, 2021
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Good to see coal retirements lining up.  Coal has enjoyed a substantial bounce back in 2021 due to returning demand and higher NG prices but in the long run renewables will squeeze out coal.  

Utilities are rapidly closing coal-fired power plants, and while 2020 and 2021 offer a relative reprieve from retirements compared to 2018 and 2019, utilities already have over 10 GW of announced retirement plans lined up in each of 2022 and 2023. Moreover, later years, such as 2028, are also already slated to host a relatively big wave of coal plant retirements.

At the start of 2015, the nation's coal fleet totaled 285.6 GW of capacity, according to Market Intelligence data. By the start of 2020, that fell to 228.8 GW, a decline of 19.9%. Closures already announced by power generators will drop that figure to 136.5 GW by 2035, or about 47.8% of the size of the fleet at the beginning of 2015.

US CO2 emissions will continue their rapid downward trend.

The chart below will have to change its Y axis to accommodate future retirements.

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 5, 2021

When will renewables squeeze out gas, Joe? Looks like they're the wind beneath its wings, like they're only pushing a climate solution further out of reach.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Aug 6, 2021

Bob,

For some reason you seem to prioritize a decline in NG generation vs a decline in coal generation.

Why is that?  Do you not agree that coal has much higher CO2 emission/MWh and other pollutants vs NG?

In 2021 - we will have an additional 70 TWh of renewables. It looks like you will get your wish and NG will decline this year - it's down 40 TWh thru May.  

I'd prefer if the decline came in coal - which instead will rise this year. Why do you prefer coal vs NG?

 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 7, 2021

I prefer carbon-free energy vs. any fossil fuel  - methane, coal, propane, any other hydrocarbon fuel.

You have no end game  - only eternal dependence on a "better" fossil fuel. Not good enough.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Aug 9, 2021

As with any project - you have to prioritize. People who don't prioritize don't GSD.

It makes sense to get rid of the bigger polluter(coal) first. Plus - it is working.

Andrew Blakers's picture
Andrew Blakers on Aug 6, 2021

Look at Australia if you want to see the future of the US. The two countries are similar in most respects except that the US has 13X more people.
Australia is installing solar & wind at 3X the per capita rate in the US. In the National Electricity Market, renewables are at 30% (of which solar & wind are 25%, hydro 6%), tracking towards 50% in 2025. Gas is at 5% and falling. Pumped hydro, transmission and batteries are balancing the renewables.
In South Australia, solar & wind are tracking towards 100% in 2025.
Grid stability is excellent. A larget problem is clapped out coal plant. Earlier this year Callide coal plant had a fire and Yallourn coal plant had a flood, which took a large fraction of coal capacity off line.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 9, 2021

"Look at Australia if you want to see the future of the US."

Hope not. Right now, over half of Australia's electricity is being generated by burning coal - pathetic.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Aug 9, 2021

Andrew,

Although its great to see that you have replaced some of your coal with renewables over the last decade - I have to agree with Bob here. You guys still use a LOT of coal.

Maybe once you swap out another 50TWh of coal for renewables then folks can start thinking about Australia as a good example.

Andrew Blakers's picture
Andrew Blakers on Aug 11, 2021

Australia is a place where things are happening in renewables (in spite of the national Government)

It is installing PV/wind 3X faster per capita than the USA.

Australian PV/wind deployment took off in 2018. 99% of new gen capacity is PV/wind. The renewable electricity is just starting to make a difference.

Wholesale spot prices halved.

Lots of investment in batteries and new pumped hydro.

At +9 TWh per year of new PV/wind, Australia is tracking towards 40% PV/wind electricity in the mid-2020s. Fast by global standards, but not fast enough to meet climate goals.

The state of South Australia is tracking towards 100% PV/wind in 2024-25.

sd

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