The Great Green Game: China to Supply Paris Agreement Sanctioned Coal Power to Europe?


Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t JoNova – in a hilarious twist of climate politics, China looks like it is positioning itself, to flood Europe with desperately needed cheap coal generated electricity: all completely within the letter of the various Paris climate agreements.

China’s proposed investments in long-distance, ultra-high voltage (UHV) power transmission lines will pave the way for power exports as far as Germany, the head of the national power grid said on Tuesday as he launched an initiative for cross-border power connections.

Exporting power to central Asia and beyond falls into China’s “one belt, one road” ambitions to export industrial overcapacity and engineering expertise as it faces slowing growth at home. The plan would allow enormous hydropower dams, coal-fired power plants, and wind farms in frontier regions such as Xinjiang to sell into higher priced markets overseas…

Read more (paywalled):

Most pundits assumed China was making an awful mistake – that their astonishing expansion of coal capacity, adding a new coal fired generator every week, was simply a resource misallocation bubble waiting to burst. For example;

When China published its 2014 electricity statistics back in February, we warned that the build-up of new coal-fired in China was a “bubble waiting to burst”. The past six months have made the problem even more apparent.

China’s state-owned power companies have continued adding new coal-fired power plants to the grid at a feverish pace, even as demand for power generation from coal declines.

During the first half of 2015, 23.4 gigawatts (GW) of thermal power plants were brought online [data in Chinese], while thermal power generation fell 3.2%. As a result, capacity utilization at thermal power plants fell further from the all-time low reached last year, now dropping just below 50%.

So the old factoid about China adding one coal plant per week deserves to be updated — China is now adding one IDLE coal power plant per week.

Most of China’s new thermal capacity is coal, with gas and biomass representing up to a quarter.

Read more (paywalled):

The planned expansion of UHV power lines should allow all that spare capacity to be utilised, by exporting the excess capacity all over Eurasia, all the way to Western Europe.

If the Paris Climate Agreement was already a joke, the Chinese electricity export plan is surely the punchline.

It could still all come unstuck. The Chinese plan, to take advantage of their “climate pact” with President Obama, to export unlimited quantities of coal power to Western countries which are hamstrung by their domestic CO2 emission commitments, is so openly farcical the entire Paris agreement could implode.

But maybe I am being naive, by considering the possibility that common sense will prevail. After all, Western governments are still wasting ridiculous amounts of tax money funding utterly unviable renewable installations.

74 thoughts on “The Great Green Game: China to Supply Paris Agreement Sanctioned Coal Power to Europe?

    • This is essentially it, western pollution left with it’s industry.
      That’s where most change has come from despite the government and orgs backslapping themselves.
      If we kept the industry we our air would be worse OR economy worse, cant have booming industry we have had and clean air and soil.
      So it all went to benefit from cheaper costs and slave labour and poor environmental laws, this was entirely intentional, and part of the neoliberal destruction of the power of the working man *We dont like unions and such so we’ll privatise everything and ship it off to somewhere with no worker rights or environmental laws that make us deal with waste) Thanks Reagan and Thatcher!
      That is why China is mullered with pollution, because China could not have floated the EU and US economies if they had stringent environmental laws, and of course slave labour.
      And we know Baotou China where they make parts for wind turbines, is a toxic waste land, which puts smug greenness into context.

      • the classic was usa closing down its best REmine and selling ALL the equipment to?
        China 😉
        been watching the wakeup to the control of supply, and the panic to try n find n restart the mining in usa last few yrs
        anyone else aware of the new Yuan NOT tradeable for US$ coming on the 19th april?
        reckon that might upset some trade/supply issues at all
        see Zero hedge for details

      • Mark;
        I am confused I thought China was the darling of the left, a shining example of how a centrally planned communist economy was supposed to be run. Next you’ll tell me Woodrow Wilson wasn’t the greatest president of all time or that Margret Sanger wasn’t the shining example of the perfect feminist. Please what ever you do don’t try to convince me that Bill Clinton really is a rapist or that Hillary is a money grubbing power broker, I think that would just be the end of me.

      • Wonderful, that Great Green Pseudointellectual entity known as The European Union has cut their throat on Energy supplies and will become dependent on China for what will amount to about 80% of their Non Green COAL energy supplies and back-up sources for intermittencies of their Green Renewables. If they truly become Dependent on China, Does everyone remember Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome?
        Who run Barter Town?
        Master-Blaster runs Barter Town!!

        Who Run Europe???
        China Run Europe!!!
        Embargo over

  1. Ps. Don’t believe anything any poll or news outlet has to say about any of the people running for President. Good or bad. The chances that they are fake or fabricated to sway you one way or another is 97%. That’s my 97% consensus with me, myself and I.

    • The clear signs of trepanning have been found on skulls clear back tho the Neolithic in Europe and pre-Columbian MesoAmerica so there is nothing very special about it having happened in China. The medical texts left by the ancient Greeks contain clear instructions on how to relieve swelling of the brain using this method.

    • So we’re the Egyptians (Or maybe the Persians. I forget which). When your choice is to die or surgery with an 8% survival rate, you try the surgery. To bad anesthesia wouldn’t be invented for a couple more centuries…. or millennia. >¿<

  2. Some people I know are working on an environmentally friendly and clean Guillotine which uses renewable energy… Wind powered winches, solar powered magnetos and muscle powered basket haulers. 100 % green for those who demand to “Go out Green”.

  3. The Chinese business men are a lot smarter and harder working than the bloated fools in charge of the EU. Even when this plan is pointed out to those in the EU, they will probably be too stupid to see it. They have so far, been too stupid to reject the whole CO2 scam, so the Chinese are on a winning ticket.

    • The men and women running the EU have been too stupid to see EVERYTHING coming our way, from Greece to the Ukraine. That’s why many of us here in Britain want OUT. The EU rulers are inept, bungling gimps – out of their depth, intellectually. It’s councillors running a super-state.

    • Interesting now that the Maoism culture is dead or dying that fostered perpetual mediocrity.

      • Don’t count on it. It’s still alive and kickin’ in our K through 12 school system. There it’s called “everything to its lowest common denomination.”

    • You’re right at least on the geopolitical stage. If this comes to pass, then Europe will simply become vassals of China (electricity), Russia (oil, gas) and culture (migrants). UK (if Brexit) may become the only European country that retains a few freedoms.

      • And that – only if we go for Brexit.
        The Fearmongers are trying to poison minds against freedom.
        From the Concealing Ahistorical Mind-altering Ejection-avoiding Ruinously Over-spending Nuck-wit – our Grand Imperial Fearmonger-in-Chief himself – on down.
        Think about alternative future – in a ‘tremulously weak’ [William Hague in today’s ‘Daily Telegraph’] union [so called] – or free to create trade agreements – and energy policies – of our own. Where will the ‘EU’ be in ten years? With Turkey in – or almost in??
        Think, please.

  4. I have a good idea – let’s route the cable through Taliban territory.
    They usually seem to be amicable to such arrangements…

    • The plan is to use the Indian Ocean (I read about this a week ago). But the article didn’t explain where it would then go. I would guess it’s going to be the Red Sea, then through the Med. It’s actually not an extraordinarily high-risk project – it’s just a great set of wide encased cables.

      • As long as there are no Locks on the Suez, no problem, under water the whole way but is they need to go above ground any place, then the entire project is more vulnerable to attack

    • Already most of the harbor of Antwerp – the third largest of the world – is in Chinese hands. The largest container traffic here – MSC – is Chinese. They bought and buy hardwood and ores from every country in Africa, bribing the officials with (cheap) soccer stadiums – and coal fired power stations,… The list gets longer and longer. Europe stands at the sideline, looks at it and doesn’t do anything…

      • oh?
        arent they just replacing theUK/ EU/USA interests who did the same for some generations?
        thing is…the chinese seem to be well liked as they provide meaningful benefits for the locals.
        Ive not heard tales of abuse and people cut of from their own water sources or land, unlike some other nations moves into africa have.

      • the chineses bought a land in “Indre et Loire” this “le Berry ” that is where Georges Sand lived
        Thanks to that bloody european union – but who has initiated that !!!

  5. The U.S. and our European partners should be proud that the coal we sell to China is being used by them to sell the energy back to Europe. As long as it isn’t being burned in a Western country we can say we did our part to save the Earth from evil coal use and that we aren’t burning it or making money from it. The Chinese are simply doing us a favor and by doing so, the impact of CO2 emissions is less evil or harmful because they are so kindhearted. Bless them. Thank you China and our great leaders in the west for such deep thinking.

    • I just got a sudden shot of de ja vue (spelling?). This is a sort of Catch 22 situation. Not sure if Joseph Heller would be proud, amused or appalled at the way things are turning out.

  6. If you feed power in to one end of an UHV cable (with one end in China and the other in Germany) what proportion of that power will emerge at the other end?

  7. Don’t forget the Chinese are also full steam ahead with 4th generation nuclear and intend to double nuclear capacity by 2020. They must seriously wonder just how brain-dead people in Europe really are and are doubtless planning to sell us shoe lace tying robots in the near future.

  8. This could be one of Buckminster Fuller’s prophecies coming true.
    Bucky suggested a world wide energy grid.

    My answer would be to develop a world energy grid, an electric grid where everybody is on the same grid.
    All of a sudden there would be no problems any more, no international troubles. Our new economic basis wouldn’t be gold or dollars; it would be kilowatt hours. link

    If I remember correctly, the idea was that supply and demand would be better matched if it could be done on a global scale. Nuclear energy works best if it runs at constant power. The world wide grid would allow that to happen because it would wash out fluctuating energy demands in various parts of the planet.
    Economists since Malthus have predicted that the world would run out of certain necessary materials and the economy would collapse. Bucky pointed out that we use technology to solve the problem by finding ways to use less (or different) material etc. He was right, we are making more using less material. link
    On the other hand, the idea that our complete interdependence would bring about world peace … crazy.

  9. As can be seen from the top of this handy chart on Wikipedia – China produces more electricity from renewable sources than any other nation (2014 figures). Nearly eight times as much as Germany for example.
    But, media analysis is usually skewed to focus exclusively on the push for “absurdly expensive and unreliable renewables”, i.e. solar and wind. And therefore the general perception is that China is trailing behind.
    For the media and eco-activists, producing cost-effective reliable renewable energy doesn’t count.

      • Exactly, that’s my point.
        On top of that, the largest chunk of Germany’s renewable miracle is – burning stuff.
        But then, China doesn’t have large and influential organizations campaigning to obstruct progress.
        And, I suppose that that is why China now has heaps of cheap renewable energy, which they might consider selling to the idiots in Europe.
        All the countries in the world that have the highest proportion of renewable power obtain most of that power from hydro. And that seems to have something to do with why the eco-left and their propaganda machine is obsessed with “discrediting” hydro, wherever it is mentioned.
        Cheap plentiful renewable energy that delivers on demand, at night and even when it’s not windy.
        It is quite clear that this is a dangerous technology which must be stopped!!! (sarc)

  10. I would think that far more important, to the Chinese leaders, than the money to be made, is the political control being able to turn off the switch would give them.

  11. Great idea, make your potential enemies dependant on something you produce and control, then use it a few years later to control them.

  12. This confirms what I’ve been saying for well over a decade. Forget about terms like global warming, climate change, AGW, …. What it’s REALLY all about is embraced in my C6 acronym:
    Catastrophic Capitalist Caucasian Caused Climate Change!
    Remember Orwell – 4 legs good, 2 legs bad. 🙁

  13. …Europe wants to trust communist China with their power supply ?? OMG, you can’t fix stupid !!

    • Marcus: “…Europe wants to trust communist China with their power supply ?? OMG, you can’t fix stupid !!”
      You mean as opposed to trusting Cameron, Merkel, Obama et al with it?
      Talk about being between the Devil and the deep blue sea…

  14. Interesting now that the Maoism culture is dead or dying that fostered perpetual mediocrity.

  15. Communications as well as bulk electrical power, it is like a pincer movement against the west.
    The electrical supply situation outlined above needs to be added to the IT and telecoms situation outline in this link where it is shown that the UK has installed a Huawei supplied IT infrastructure.
    In the UK’s situation, if dependence upon imported electricity grew, we could loose either comms or electricity on a whim of a foreign government.

  16. This is beyond satire. It is positively Kafkaesque in its absurdity. The carbon obsession, stupid and 100% wrong-headed by itself, actually results in even more CO2, and more environmental harm done. And the Chinese are laughing all the way to the bank.

  17. The green blob does have a certain level of Ehrlichian, Malthusian, Club of Rome homicidal/suicidal tendencies, and the current Chinese government does not seem to share that delusion/ideology. Of course, the US could go the same path as much of Europe–just carry out Obama’s Clean Power Plan, as Hilary and Bernie seem dedicated to do.

  18. Nothing learned in 2 decades since Kyoto…taking emission capabilities from some countries and distributing them to others is a zero sum game.

  19. And its not like any EU countries or others along the route would speak out against it. China carries the big customer and money stick with all of them. They will be quiet as a mouse.

  20. The low ROI for ‘renewables’ will continue to bankrupt the green countries of the west, eventually driving them to seek cheaper power, which China will provide – for a price – since they will have it and the logistics for delivery. That will give China more of the gold, and remember the Golden Rule – those with the gold make the rules.

  21. Would it not be simpler to ‘package’ the electricity into some more convenient container and ship it to Europe? Say in the form of coal?

  22. Here in Canada, we have to deal with people who say that if we have to shift jobs to the third world to meet our “climate targets” then that is the price we have to pay. I cant make this stuff up
    I think it was my new Calgary hawkwood MLA, a nice 21 year old Poli-sci student at UofC.

  23. China looks like it is positioning itself, to flood Europe with desperately needed cheap coal generated electricity
    While I don’t believe that it will actually ever happen … It’s a funny possibility that further exposes the wacky world of ‘Carbon Pollution’…
    Me and my fellow plants just love our ‘Carbon Pollution’. It’s like photosynthesis on steroids. WATER + MORE CO2 (and some solar energy) Gets converted to… Our entire Planetary food chain.
    Fzcking ‘Greens’, they couldn’t bet properly on a one Horse race.

  24. Because of the subventions the price for electricity in germany has rised in 10-15 years up to 100%-but did we have lesser Co2?No!More!
    Why?Because Atom reactors are closed and the coals power stations must stop every time when there is enough wind or sun-so they produce more CO2 and dirt because they are not at the optimum.
    Also there are 600thousand people in germany who cant pay it anymore!they have no power at home!

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