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THE Coal Thread pt 4

Discussions of conventional and alternative energy production technologies.

Re: THE Coal Thread pt 4

Unread postby Tanada » Thu 12 May 2022, 16:56:38

Does America Have a Secret Energy Source? Yes, It's Coal

The quick rise in the price of natural gas to levels not seen since 2008 has made one thing clear: The idea that gas was an economical bridge to a renewable energy future was flawed.

The price of natural gas, which accounts for about 40% of electricity used by Americans and half of home-heating needs, has more than doubled this year and is expected to remain high in the aftermath of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and its curtailment of gas exports to Poland and Bulgaria.

In fact, U.S. natural gas prices surged above $8 per million British thermal units, four times what they were before the pandemic. This dramatic price increase changes the economics of electricity generating technologies. Natural gas electricity generating units are inexpensive to build and quick to construct and combined with low natural gas costs became the favored generating technology in the United States.

The U.S. natural gas glut that once defined the shale era is gone. Come next year, fully 20% of U.S. gas production is expected to be exported. High overseas prices are now inflating the price of gas here at home. However, an energy friendly administration could reverse the U. S. natural gas supply problem which could lower its price.

This adds up to a very different outlook from a few years ago, when natural gas was in such ample supply that its price had tanked. While shale gas producers are starting to ramp up drilling, they’re struggling to meet high demand and price relief remains distant.

With energy-driven inflation a stubborn problem, this new surge in gas prices couldn’t come at a worse time. The addition of renewable power to temper gas demand will help but it’s hardly a cure-all. Wind and solar power are already the fastest growing sources of power but together they still only meet roughly 13% of U.S. power demand and are not reliable sources of electricity. Also building the transmission infrastructure needed to connect them to urban centers from the sunniest and windiest regions of the country remains an enormous challenge. Opposition to new interstate power lines is such a problem transmission additions have actually decreased when experts tell us they need to increase significantly.

Ensuring that energy inflation doesn’t get far worse is going to require an energy policy reset that gets the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) agenda in line with energy pragmatism. It may seem anathema to the Biden administration’s climate goals but it’s time to reevaluate the importance of the coal fleet and put EPA’s daggers away.

The best hedge consumers have against high natural gas prices is the coal fleet that continues to meet 20% of U.S. power demand -- and double that in some regions of the country. These plants provide security to the grid and offer choices in fuel use.

When gas prices soar – as they are now – coal generation rises, shielding rate payers from higher power costs. Unfortunately, much of the coal fleet is facing a renewed regulatory push that could see it disappear just when it’s needed most. Half the coal fleet that existed a decade ago is gone and utilities have already scheduled the closure of dozens of more plants. In some regions coal plants are closing sooner than anticipated and complicating electricity reliability. Several regional transmission organizations forecast very tight electricity supplies this summer. There is an increased probability of forced blackouts.

EPA has signaled it’s about to use every tool at its disposal to accelerate coal plant closures. That’s a mistake policymakers must make sure doesn’t happen. We should be able to do things in an intelligent way. A pragmatic energy approach accelerates renewable energy deployment while also ensuring the coal fleet remains a near-term buffer against soaring natural gas prices.

Coal capacity is also playing an unheralded but critical role in preserving grid reliability when renewable generation has faltered. Blackouts have hit California and Texas in recent years and the grid operator for the Midwest is now warning that some states could see rolling blackouts this year for lack of enough generating capacity.

The bridge we need to our energy future is a balanced electricity mix that values coal, natural gas, nuclear power and renewables as all playing an important part on the energy path forward. Soaring natural gas prices and the pain of energy-driven inflation call for energy pragmatism. Now’s the time to recognize the role the coal fleet should play in it.


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Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
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Re: THE Coal Thread pt 4

Unread postby AdamB » Thu 12 May 2022, 17:48:42

A reasonable explanation of what America's abundance of natural gas, and the expertise and E&Ps applying it, has wrought. I remember about a decade or 8 years back or so when discussing exactly what would happen when America became a monster influence on the LNG market, folks just whined and complained about America not having a century of natural gas and doom was, as usual, right around the corner. I was there at the conference when the Secretary of Energy was asked about the permits for LNG....IMPORT facilties. The good ole days! I remember Art B. doing what he always does, proclaiming the end, only to have his mini-frame snuffed out by the deluge of shale sourced hydrocarbons that about invalidated every word he ever wrote on American NG and oil resources.

Even more amusing, companies decide to buy back stock, pay down debt, and suddenly growth rates aren't what they were expected to be? ANOTHER riot, except this time from the overly enthusiastic who don't know any more about industry operations after a debt fueled growth binge than they do not just how, but IF the growth can continue.
StarvingPuutyTat says: I'm so confident in my TOTAL COLLAPSE is IMMINENT prediction that I stake my entire reputation on it. It will happen this year. - Aug 3-2020

Mustang19 says: Mods, I am just here to troll the trolls. I mean no harm.
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