Britain joins the shift from coal, taking us away from the climate nightmare

By Larry Kummer. From the Fabius Maximus website.

Summary: Burning coal contributes to pollution (many kinds) and is a major driver of anthropogenic climate change. Last month we looked at the good news from the US about the shift away from coal, and last week about the good news from China. Here’s more good news from Britain. It is part of a global story, putting the world on a path away from the nightmarish scenarios of climate change based on slow tech growth, reliance on coal for power, and rapid population growth.

Good news, for many reasons

Britain is using more solar (yellow) power and burning less coal (black).


From CarbonBrief, 13 April 2016.

“UK coal power hits 0% output for 2nd time this week: 11:40 on 11/5 to 04:00 on 12/5. Likely only 2nd time since 1882.”

Tweet from Simon Evans, Editor of Carbon Brief.

The good news from Britain…

Burn less coal,

lower the odds of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change

Climate forecasts (called “projections” by the IPCC) rely on two key factors. First, the scenario — a forecast of future emissions, must occur. Second, the model must accurately predict temperatures for that scenario. Previous posts have focused on the latter factor, showing climate scientists’ reluctance to test their models using the decades of data after their publication.

Recent events highlight that the first factor is also important. The nightmarish predictions of climate change that dominate the news almost all rely on the most severe of the four scenarios used by the Fifth Assessment Report, the IPCC’s most recent: RCP8.5. It describes a future in which much has gone wrong (details here), most importantly…

  • a slowdown in tech progress (coal is the fuel of the late 21st century, as it was in the late 19thC), and
  • unusually rapid population growth (inexplicably, that fertility in sub-Saharan Africa does not decline or crash as it has everywhere else).

Looking at such scenarios, however unlikely, is vital for planning. Sometimes we do have bad luck. But presenting such outcomes without mentioning their unlikely assumptions — or worse, misrepresenting it as a “business as usual” scenario — misleads readers and puts the credibility of science itself at risk.


CEA image.

Not just in Britain

Portugal ran entirely on renewable energy for 4 consecutive days last week” by John Fitzgerald Weaver at Electrek, May 15. Market forces are shift electricity generation in Texas away from coal to natural gas and renewables, according to a new report by the Brattle Group: see the summary and the full report.

The entire world is shifting away from coal, year by year and nation by nation. Coal use has peaked in every continent (see the details here).


All three core assumptions of the RCP8.5 scenario look less likely every day; we have no reason to suppose that trend will change. We are shifting away from coal to natural gas (cleaner and lower carbon) and renewables. The daily news disproves the assumption of slowing tech progress, as the new industrial revolution slowly begins. See this post for details about the assumption of population growth in the top quintile of the UN’s latest forecast (and why that’s unlikely); coming advances in contraception will make this even less likely.

I believe that future generations will look at our fears and laugh, as we laughed at early 20th century fears of cities buried in horse dung. We have many serious challenges, some appear imminent (e.g., our dying oceans). Let’s prioritize those more and obsess less on more speculative threats.

For More Information

For more information see The keys to understanding climate change, My posts about climate change, and especially these about the rumored coal-driven climate apocalypse…

  1. Is our certain fate a coal-burning climate apocalypse? No!
  2. Manufacturing climate nightmares: misusing science to create horrific predictions.
  3. Good news! Coal bankruptcies point to a better future for our climate.
  4. Good news from China about climate change!
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May 18, 2016 9:57 am

Up side of all that: The coal will still be there to mine after all this hoo-ha has been shown to be an ineffective and dangerous experiment.

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  GPHanner
May 18, 2016 10:07 am

Warmer temps = “ineffective” = calls to do more.
Pause or cooling = “we saved the earth.”
Win-win for climate activists.

Reply to  Michael Jankowski
May 18, 2016 3:00 pm

It will be next to impossible for climate scientists to explain away any future cooling by suggesting that the shift to natural gas aided the process. China and India will continue to increase their coal usage for the next 15 years, approximately. So if the natural drivers are about to lead us into a cold period, then there will no doubt that natural drivers remain completely in control of the Earth’s thermostat.

Reply to  Michael Jankowski
May 20, 2016 9:51 am

No, pause or cooling just means the planet hasn’t heated up YET. There is no saving the earth.

Reply to  Michael Jankowski
May 20, 2016 10:39 am

They own the predictions and the “actuals” — a huge conflict of interest.
There won’t be any pause or cooling in the data (will be “adjusted” away).

Robert of Texas
Reply to  GPHanner
May 18, 2016 10:46 am

And the longer it sits there, the better the technology is to actually burn it safely, removing actual pollutants such as heavy metals. I have no problem with a shift to an economically viable energy source that is cleaner (ignoring CO2 since it isn’t a pollutant, unless of course you trap it and concentrate it to dangerous concentrations)

Reply to  Robert of Texas
May 18, 2016 6:38 pm

An economically viable energy source does not include wind and solar. They are 5 to 10 times more expensive than coal, use very rare elements and are thus by definition unsustainable, and have very short lifetimes relative to coal. Real energy should be from coal, thorium, or cold fusion. Notice that these three energy sources all have the ability to generate energy all day and not only when the sun shines or the wind blows. Green energy “blows” (sucks) big time, it blows/sucks wealth and reliability.

Reply to  GPHanner
May 18, 2016 10:59 am

Coal under Britain is very rich in gas, once saw an estimate of the coal gas under the English North Sea as a thousand years worth.
They’re doing it in Australia.

Gerry, England
Reply to  mwhite
May 18, 2016 12:56 pm

They are extracting gas from it under the Bristol Channel I believe.

Reply to  mwhite
May 18, 2016 6:43 pm

No, it is not “coal gas.” It is natural gas from much deeper. They have quadrillions of cubic feet of natural gas, enough for 1000s of years, but it has nothing to do with coal, which is fossil. Natural gas and oil are from Earth’s core and replenish over time. My family has had oil/gas wells in Texas since the 1920s and they never stop producing. Many wells were closed with the idea that they were dead, only to find years later that they had recharged. As natural gas and oil seep upward from the core, it can be obtained virtually any place one drills deep enough. The Russians have been trying to tell us about this for years and we are finally hearing them.

Reply to  GPHanner
May 18, 2016 12:34 pm

I’m confused…. (sarc)
I am pretty sure I saw that higher temperatures will reduce human fertility, lower sperm counts and more female offspring.
I am pretty sure that ‘low tech’ coal provides high energy that is necessary to create solar panel quality silicon.
I am very sure that WHO states 9 million people die every year because of lack to ‘low tech’ high energy coal to sun water and sewer plants.
I know for a fact that various ‘high tech’ engineering solutions are derived from certain types of coal.
And I am very sure that one day in April, nobody needed heat to survive. Comparably, Obama claimed we reduced the use of fuels…after everyone lost their jobs and stopped driving.

Reply to  empiresentry
May 18, 2016 6:26 pm

You’re confused? The people making these decisions have no idea what they are doing. We need more CO2 to feed the plants, and less intervention to allow cheap, clean (as it si already) coal energy, and people free to use this energy. Wind and solar are the least green energy on the planet and destined to fail; what a waste of resources. Wind and solar are useful only at the end-user site, as a means of decreasing the burden on the grid. However, any effort to supply the grid with wind and solar as the main source is destined to fail, as the fluctuations in power will burn out the grid, just as it is doing right now in Germany—the random changes in power are driving management crazy and destroying their grid.

Reply to  GPHanner
May 19, 2016 3:24 am

Maybe I’ve missed something or perhaps I’m the only one who doesn’t know who Larry is.
The first time I saw his ‘avatar’ on WUWT, I thought that It screamed of the thinly veiled aggrandisements favoured by political activists. To me, it ‘decodes’ as Maximum Socialist. However, because Fabius Maximus* actually was the namesake for Fabian Socialism it is even more disturbing (Look up, slow and steady, in regards to Fabianism). If I remember correctly, Larry also has a psychology degree and this frightens me even more. I am genuinely disturbed by these people because of the extremism of there beliefs.
I’m happy for anybody to have any genuine opinion they like but a frontman for a real political power scares the hell out of me!
I would really like to know what Larry’s position on life and death is! Who should hold this power, the People or the State?
*Roman politician, full name: Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus Cunctator

Green Sand
May 18, 2016 9:59 am

Britain moving away from coal? At present, at considerable expense, we are squirreling it away for winter!

May 18, 2016 10:01 am

Coal is already perfectly safe w/modern precips & scrubbers. CO2 is not “pollution”, it’s plant food.

May 18, 2016 10:10 am

for the life of me I can’t understand why Nuclear Power is not being more strenuously presented as the succession technology to coal for the production of electricity. The only requirement is to straighten out the bureaucratic mess that has been created by classifying everything that emits anything as “high level waste” and proceeding to disposal in stable geological sites.

Reply to  fossilsage
May 18, 2016 10:29 am

I read somewhere that the fly ash from coal plants has enough uranium in it to qualify as low level nuclear waste.

Reply to  MarkW
May 18, 2016 11:12 am

Wrong way to look at it. It is sometimes high enough to qualify it as a uranium resource in certain coals. Nuclear waste proper, has fission products in it. Natural uranium just has its daughters. It is all still relatively innocuous, other than for idiots to grieve over.

Reply to  MarkW
May 18, 2016 11:37 am

The problem is that the definition of “low level nuclear” waste is ridiculously restrictive.

Reply to  MarkW
May 18, 2016 11:52 am

By which I mean, that when the radiation suits worn by the workers are considered low level waste, there is something seriously wrong with your definitions.

Bob Burban
Reply to  MarkW
May 18, 2016 2:56 pm

Cheer up – that gorgeous pink or red granite used in counter-tops as well as building facades and floors is probably radioactive as well.

Reply to  Bob Burban
May 18, 2016 2:59 pm

Not “probably” – definitely.

Reply to  fossilsage
May 18, 2016 10:44 am

No need to worry about the future of “nuclear wastes” – molten salt reactors love to burn the stuff, extracting most of the remaining 96% of energy still remaining in the nuclear fuel after several passthrus thru conventional reactors. Result of burning by molten salt reactors is low level waste, easily stored for a hundred years or so, when radiation level returns to background levels. And is physically impossible to
present any danger while doing so.

Reply to  arthur4563
May 18, 2016 5:23 pm

Sounds like a winner to me.

Reply to  fossilsage
May 18, 2016 10:46 am

Britain is contracting to build quite a few reactors on the western seacost. Several countries and manufacturers will be building the reactors

Gerry, England
Reply to  arthur4563
May 18, 2016 12:58 pm

I am not sure many of us here will live long enough to see them let alone enjoy their ridiculously expensive electricity.

Reply to  arthur4563
May 18, 2016 2:00 pm

western hi-cost.
Sorry. Slipped out.
PS – genuine Nuclear power, with sensible – not ludicrous – precautions – is not cheap – but some of the numbers bandied about – not least by Rudd, Secretary of State for Ramping Energy Costs to the Moon [In her case, Titan, a moon of Saturn] – are horrifying, even compared with offshore wind/bird-blender.

May 18, 2016 10:12 am

We are shifting away from coal to natural gas …
here we go……peak gas will be next

Reply to  Latitude
May 18, 2016 10:41 am

As I said in the post: “We are shifting away from coal to natural gas (cleaner and lower carbon) and renewables.” Mostly to natural gas, often cheaper than coal at equivalent or lower pollution levels (i.e., coal can be clean with additional expense).
From the article cited above: “UK coal use to fall to lowest level since industrial revolution“.

“it is gas that has been getting cheaper without a parallel fall in coal prices. In 2014 coal’s price advantage fell to around £10 per megawatt hour, causing significant amounts of coal to gas switching in the electricity sector – particularly last summer. This shift was driven by a fall in UK wholesale gas prices.
“The futures price to secure gas contracts through 2015 is similar to the low prices that prevailed for much of last year. This means coal’s price advantage could fall below £10 per megawatt hour even before the government’s supplementary carbon tax the Carbon Price Floor increases in April 2015. At that point coal will lose a further £4.50 per megawatt hour advantage relative to gas.
“These are rough numbers, based on average annual prices and average efficiency power stations, yet even so there seems to be scope for further coal to gas switching barring an unexpected turnaround in gas prices.”

Reply to  Latitude
May 18, 2016 12:14 pm

Gas is cheaper for now.
The odds are this will not last forever since we are now burning natural gas but leaving the coal in the ground.
When we draw down enough of natural gas for it to rise in expense, then coal will become cheaper and we will shift back from to coal.

Nigel Harris
Reply to  Latitude
May 18, 2016 12:53 pm

Gas use in the UK is already down substantially from its peak in 2000. Electricity consumption has fallen overall. Wind and solar have been the main growth areas.

Billy Liar
Reply to  Nigel Harris
May 19, 2016 7:01 am

Overall final energy consumption fell by 10 per cent (16.0 Mtoe) between 2000 and 2013. Over this time energy consumption by the industrial sector fell by almost one third (11.3 Mtoe) …
See Chart 5 on p10 of this link:
Britain’s consumption of energy in industry in 2014 was 25% of the consumption by industry in 1970. Britain is losing its industry.
Wind and solar may be subsidized growth areas but they are an irrelevance (3.1MToe in 2014) when compared with 135.3MToe overall energy consumption in 2014 (of which 40.2MToe was gas).

Reply to  Latitude
May 18, 2016 3:33 pm

MarkW May 18, 2016 at 12:14 pm
“Gas is cheaper for now.
The odds are this will not last forever since we are now burning natural gas but leaving the coal in the ground.
When we draw down enough of natural gas for it to rise in expense, then coal will become cheaper and we will shift back from to coal.”
I doubt it. By the time gas has had it’s day, renewables will be the dominant energy source. Very interesting article

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  Latitude
May 19, 2016 4:04 am

Renewables will never be the dominant energy source.
How do I know? I’m an engineer and was educated successfully to calculate the outcome. I did.

May 18, 2016 10:13 am

Does this mean the clear cutting of forests for chip plants is over? The wildlife would like to know. Second question: How do you know this is not just shuffling the fossil fuel production somewhere else along with industrial power users while converting the country into a service-oriented city state?

Thomas Homer
Reply to  Resourceguy
May 18, 2016 10:50 am

“Does this mean the clear cutting of forests for chip plants is over? The wildlife would like to know.”
Which wildlife are you referring to? Would the “threatened species” lynx be included in your inquiry?
It’s been documented that lynx populations exploded in areas that were clear cut. After the underbrush took hold and the rabbit population soared, the lynx were soon to follow.

May 18, 2016 10:15 am

I would not get too excited about China.
There is no prospect of coal consumption falling anytime in the foreseeable future, and solar/ wind power still remain tiny there.
The main reason for the coal numbers levelling off is the lack of growth of energy intensive industries in the last year or so.
Crude steel output in China has, for instance, actually fallen since 2013, despite exports increasing.

Reply to  Paul Homewood
May 18, 2016 10:45 am

Update about peaking of China’s coal production
There are a large number of articles that disagree with you. Here are two of them.
China coal consumption drops again“, The Guardian.
Statistics From China Say Coal Consumption Continues to Drop“, The New York Times.
hina is rapidly closing much of its older coal-generation capacity — a major source of the toxic clouds over its major cities. Doing so is a major public policy priority, for obvious reasons. They’re being replaced by coal plus nuclear plus renewables. For details, and links to other sources, see Good news from China about climate change!

Mickey Reno
Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 11:29 am
Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 12:52 pm

The Guardian? Are you serious?
I would rather believe what the Chinese themselves say in their INDC:
To increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20% by 2030
In 2014, it was already 11%, according to BP.
Given that most authorities forecast a massive increase in total energy consumption by then, the contribution from fossil fuels will continue to rise rapidly. Sure there will be a small switch from coal to gas, and the older inefficient coal plants are being replaced by more efficient ones out of cities.
But the idea that coal is being quickly phased out in China, or is even dropping significantly, belongs in cloud cuckoo land.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 2:44 pm

“I would rather believe what the Chinese themselves say…”
The Guardian is no better, but I am curious, why exactly would you believe the Chinese?

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 2:59 pm

The Guardian is no better, but I am curious, why exactly would you believe the Chinese?
Because unlike the Guardian I am not an eco-racist.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 5:16 pm

So, you think Communist dictatorship is a racial thing? Sorry, no. The former Soviet Union was composed largely of Slavic peoples. There are very few ethnic Chinese in Cuba (less than 1%). And, the faculties of our major universities also are not generally dominated by those of Chinese ethnicity. So, no, Communism is not generally a Chinese thing. Try again.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 19, 2016 3:13 am

The Guardian and the NYT would say that, wouldn’t they?

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 20, 2016 10:47 am

Chinese economic growth is at a 25-year low.
Those are the official data.
Electricity usage suggests actual growth is much slower that the official data.
Almost all analysts calculate significantly lower growth than the official data.
China’s coal consumption is dropping mainly because their electricity use is dropping, due to an economic growth slowdown. (This affects other nations too).
Of course they have a pollution problem, even with less electricity usage, so are building nuclear plants and many more clean(er) coal plants.
It is possible continuous soot from coal burning in China changed the albedo of snow and ice in the Arctic, explaining why the northern half of the Northern Hemisphere has warmed significantly more than the rest of our planet.

Janice Moore
May 18, 2016 10:17 am

Burning coal … is a major driver of anthropogenic climate change.

Prove it.

Reply to  Janice Moore
May 18, 2016 11:14 am

Thank you Janice. The writer of this article makes scientifically unsubstantiated allegations. His slip is showing.

Janice Moore
Reply to  jsuther2013
May 18, 2016 1:13 pm

Thank you, Harry Passfield, and jsuther2013, for the back-up…. and for the encouragement.

Harry Passfield
Reply to  Janice Moore
May 18, 2016 11:30 am


The statement is in fact easily proven

But you didn’t prove it, Forrest. And if it was ‘easy’, there’d be no sceptics.

Reply to  Janice Moore
May 20, 2016 10:24 am

There is no scientific proof coal causes global warming — it is a theory to scare people, and then control them.
The environmentalists shut down nuclear energy, which was the obvious replacement for coal.
The environmentalists are trying to shut down natural gas production (anti-fracking) too.
That leaves two low density, intermittent and expensive sources of energy, solar and wind, that will never replace fossil fuels in our lifetimes.

May 18, 2016 10:21 am

With modern pollution controls, coal is no more polluting than other forms of fossil energy.

Reply to  MarkW
May 18, 2016 10:30 am

Coal ash isn’t a problem.

Reply to  MarkW
May 18, 2016 10:46 am

The coal plant I worked at had a ongoing study by a nearby university for many yrs on the affect on wildlife living IN flyash and bottomash pond-water. The results were that, tho fish, turtle, frogs and invertebrates did have somewhat elevated metal contents, there was no other discernible effects on them. None. And that is living, growing, and reproducing IN that water, let alone in the adjacent river where that ashpond water was greatly diluted. They concluded the study with their rather remarkable conclusions, and nothing was ever heard about it afterward. What a surprise (sarc).
So, baloney on any issues w/properly maintained flyash and bottom-ash ponds.

Reply to  MarkW
May 18, 2016 10:47 am

Yes. With modern tech almost any fuel source could be made clean.
The relevant question is the cost of coal and natural gas at equivalent levels of pollution emissions. At present — and for the foreseeable future — that’s natural gas.
Economics. Markets. Etc.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 11:40 am

Never said otherwise. Just pointing out the stupidity of those who go on and on about coal as if all plants were still using 1950 level environmental controls.

Leo Smith
Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 19, 2016 1:13 am

coal is far cheaper than gas.
coal plus regulatory burden is totally uneconomic
its green politics

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 20, 2016 10:26 am

The anti-fracking nuts may be able to shut down, or at least stop the growth of, natural gas exploration and production … just like they shut down building new nuclear power plants

Reply to  MarkW
May 18, 2016 2:08 pm

Ah, but coal ash has been an integral pert of the asphalt and concrete used in road building here in the UK and elsewhere. It’s not “waste”, it is a useable resource.

Reply to  MarkW
May 18, 2016 2:23 pm

I believe it is also used in the making of cinder blocks.

Bruce Cobb
May 18, 2016 10:25 am

Anti-coalers love to paint coal as “dirty”. But modern, scrubber-equipped plants are plenty clean. Additionally, they provide the cheapest, most reliable energy, although NG has made inroads on it in the past 5 – 10 years thanks to fracking, which Greenies hate.
The bottom line is that the objections to coal are ideological, and economically dangerous. Coal is still very much needed. One thing it does is keep demand for NG down, helping to keep that fuel’s prices, which are prone to spiking, down.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
May 18, 2016 10:53 am

You — like almost everybody on this thread — ignores cost. Coal can be made as clean a power source as desired. But not for free.
Natural gas has a large cost advantage in many areas of the world over coal, providing equal BTU’s with equivalent or lower pollution at lower cost.
It’s as the people on this thread have just come from Central Economic Planning School, but missed the class about costs. Ten minutes of discussion with a utility company executive — someone dealing with markets — would help, perhaps.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 11:41 am

Until the recent fraking revolution, coal was cheaper, even with pollution controls.
Nobody is ignoring cost just taking a longer view than others.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 12:04 pm

Oh jeebus, Larry, do you really think we Skeptics are ignoring costs? That’s hilarious. It is you folks who are serial cost-ignorers. And you needed to include a giant straw man to even make your point. No one has ever said that scrubbers were free. Even with scrubbers, modern coal plants are competitive with NG, and you conveniently ignored my point that without coal, NG would certainly creepward up in price.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 12:16 pm

For some reason, Larry seems to be wedded to the notion that the switch from coal to gas is non-reversible.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 1:18 pm

Storage is part of the cost equation and coal is by far the cheapest. Its also pretty cheap to refine (since there is none needed unless you wash it). And since the article was based on Britain, coal has the lowest transportation costs due to the proximity of the mines (back in the day the steam trains could be refilled almost directly from nearby colleries).

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 3:04 pm

Talking of cost, you have presumably brainwashed yourself to ignore subsidies or confuse them with profits. Solar and wind without subsidies are the most expensive power source on earth. Stealing money to pay for them does not change this fact.

Tsk Tsk
Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 6:36 pm

Tell me what the unsubsidized cost of your precious renewables is. And yes that includes the dispatchable backup required as well as the transmission line costs, any energy storage, and properly accounting for anti-market feed-in tariffs.
So many pearls to clutch and you only have two hands. You have my sympathies.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
May 19, 2016 9:44 am

And I have seen more than one press release where green groups trash both coal and NG, calling them “dirty coal and natural gas” to attempt to associate the “dirty” from coal with natural gas. So trying to build up natural gas at the expense of coal is a circular firing squad.

son of mulder
May 18, 2016 10:30 am

Coming out of winter means more sun and less heating needed, close the gap by cutting coal. No surprise there, I wonder what the same graph will look like from October to January.

Dan Daly
Reply to  son of mulder
May 18, 2016 12:14 pm

Sounds right to me. The response to less energy consumption concomitant to the arrival of Spring is to quit throwing coal in the furnace. It’s not wise to try that with with solar panels and wind turbines because the sun continues to shine and the wind continues to blow.

May 18, 2016 10:31 am

Larry, you’r begging the question so many times it seems to be deliberate. “Britain blows up economy in pursuit of Green fantasy” would be a mor appropriate title.

Reply to  Tom Halla
May 18, 2016 10:48 am

You have your opinion. The people running utilities in Britain, America, China, and almost everywhere else disagree with you.
We’ll see who is correct. I vote with the people actually running businesses, with money on the table.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 11:42 am

In your opinion, the taxes and regulations being placed on businesses have no impact?

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 12:06 pm

Right MarkW, Those businesses are playing the table the Government and EPA gave them to play on, nothing more.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 12:57 pm

The people running utilities in Britain, America, China, and almost everywhere else disagree with you.
Have you not seen the costs of the green fantasy?
These are the official OBR ones as well.

Mr Green Genes
Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 19, 2016 12:42 am

I vote with the people actually running businesses, with money on the table.

Ah! You mean Tata for example, shutting down it’s British steel making operation. Or maybe the people running the last significant aluminium smelter in the UK in 2012. In all cases, high energy costs are high on the list of reasons for closure. You vote with those people, do you? I’m guessing that you prefer that the steel and aluminium we need is shipped in from overseas and the workers in the plants languish on the dole.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 19, 2016 7:06 am

Editor says:
The people running utilities in Britain, America, China, and almost everywhere else disagree with you.
You’re right about the indoctrinated, socialist western world. But CHINA? Surely you joke, Mr Editor.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 20, 2016 10:28 am

Public utilities are highly regulated businesses.
Their management team doesn’t really “run” the business like less regulated businesses — they “manage” the business under the thumb of present, and expected future, government regulations.

Pat Frank
May 18, 2016 10:32 am

Saying 21st century coal burning is a 19th century power source is like saying 21st century vaccination is like 19th century inoculations of cow-pox powder.
The polemics in the head essay is the same mindless tarring we see in the recurring and disparaging phraseology of “our addiction to fossil fuels“. What about our addiction to oxygen? Should we disparage that, too?
There’s nothing wrong with high-tech coal burning. It’s advanced and first rate 21st century power engineering. It’s not 19th century any more than wifi is 19th century wireless broadcast. The whole thesis is fashionable (in some quarters) nonsense.

Reply to  Pat Frank
May 18, 2016 11:06 am

heh – you saved me the trouble and did it well.

Reply to  gnomish
May 18, 2016 12:43 pm

Bass player clams it at 2:32. Love live studio recordings, warts and all!

May 18, 2016 10:33 am

Solar in the UK is a total waste. It is one of the darkest countries in the world.

Reply to  Javier
May 18, 2016 10:39 am

Amusing to note that Florida (The SUnshine State) is deemed a poor site for solar.

Reply to  arthur4563
May 18, 2016 11:43 am

Too many afternoon clouds, not to mention it’s cloudy for most of the winter.

Dan Daly
Reply to  arthur4563
May 18, 2016 12:31 pm

Lots of liquid sunshine falls all over Florida, which is good for plants, but not power generation. Summer is the rainy season, with clouds and showers almost every afternoon (thank God). Winter is the drier season, but still cloudy about half the time.

Reply to  arthur4563
May 18, 2016 2:17 pm

and Texas is highly rated….but they ignore the amount of golf ball size and larger hail we get.

Reply to  Javier
May 18, 2016 11:17 am

Agreed. The UK is the same latitude as Labrador.

Reply to  jsuther2013
May 18, 2016 11:33 am

I am on the south coast of England which is deemed to be one of the sunniest places in the country. We average 1700 hours of sunshine a year. That is not sufficient to run a viable solar industry. We do however have the sea all round us with nowhere in the country further than 70 miles from it. Tidal and wave power seems a better renewable for us than solar, but there is very little research going on into extracting power from the oceans

Reply to  jsuther2013
May 18, 2016 11:48 am

Any country fully in a blue area of this map should completely discard solar as a source of energy except for remote out of grid solutions where cost/benefit is not a factor. Otherwise they are just throwing money and energy away (negative ERoEI) and increasing net CO2 emissions where the PVs are made.

Reply to  jsuther2013
May 18, 2016 11:51 am

Cost/benefit is always a factor. It’s just that if you are more than a few miles off grid, the calculations get very easy because of the cost of running new power lines.

Reply to  jsuther2013
May 19, 2016 2:05 am

Yes, you are right in UK case but you have to remember to take in an account all factors.
In Poland (which is in blue on solar energy map) our energy is about 85% from coal. This is country policy to be energy independent as 75% of EU coal is here. But Poland is also quite dry country and last summer coal power plants had to significantly lower their output due to lack of water to cool. In such situation some solar power could be very good support (economically absolutely bad but in moments when there is not enough water in hot summer – excellent add on to energy mix).

Mickey Reno
May 18, 2016 10:38 am

More utopian wishful silliness from FM about the “horror” of burning coal to generate electricity, which, by any objective, rational measure, was one of the great (and dare I say) collective leaps of modernity.

May 18, 2016 10:40 am

The EU is just about to discuss a mainly return to nuclear power.
Seems they’ve realized that renewables and coal can’t supply Europe in the future.

Reply to  petermue
May 18, 2016 2:18 pm

They’ve probably realised that people will be looking to lynch someone when the lights go out, and want a piece of paper to point to when it does..

May 18, 2016 10:46 am

Apart from the comic relief about CAGW, this is a pretty pathetic article. The graph covers 4 1/2 months of data, during which time solar power generation has hardly budged. Far more likely, as Green Sand pointed out, is that it’s spring, and so less coal is being burned heating people’s homes.

Reply to  tim maguire
May 18, 2016 10:49 am

As the articles show, this is a milestone on a long and global trend. Yes, the point marked by a milestone is of little intrinsic significance — but helps to see the overall trend.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 11:38 am

Seems like an odd choice of graphics, then, as it tells you nothing of the overall trend. The graphic, as Green Sand and then I point out, has an obvious non-overall trend explanation.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 11:45 am

Whether it’s a milestone or not, nothing in the article shows it.
Natural gas is currently cheaper than coal, that won’t last forever. At which point the world will return to burning coal.

Mark from the Midwest
May 18, 2016 10:46 am

I have a cousin in Switzerland, heavily involved in hydro projects. When I asked her about Portugal’s 3 day run on renewable energy she had a 3 word response … “electricity is fungible.”
I’d like to also point out that Portugal is a very small country with very little heavy industry, it uses about the same amount of electricity, an an annual basis, as Arkansas

Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
May 18, 2016 12:20 pm

Money is fungible. Money can also be stored for years without going stale.
Electricity is fungible. Storing a lot of it for long periods is a big problem.
Running on renewables for three days is OK. Running indefinitely is much much much harder (maybe impossible). If they could actually do that, at a price we can afford, it would make CAGW moot.

Reply to  commieBob
May 18, 2016 10:50 pm

commieBob, it still does not explain nor does it show anywhere in the article how much and what kind of energy is being used to build, maintain, recycle any of the current ” renewable” methods of creating electricity ( I am still trying to visualize a D-9 Cat with a wind mill on top of it.).

Reply to  commieBob
May 20, 2016 4:15 am

asybot says: May 18, 2016 at 10:50 pm
… ( I am still trying to visualize a D-9 Cat with a wind mill on top of it.).

Hayao Miyazaki could do that. He did some pretty amazing animated movies. Here’s a link to an image from Howl’s Moving Castle.

May 18, 2016 10:48 am

This is clearly a win for Margaret Thatcher who hated coal miners. Did she invent global warming for this very purpose? (or was she the first skeptic?)

Reply to  commieBob
May 18, 2016 11:46 am

1) She hated unions (as does any intelligent person), not miners.
2) She didn’t invent AGW, but she did use what the scientists were telling her to her political advantage.

A C Osborn
Reply to  MarkW
May 18, 2016 12:51 pm

You should read some history on what conditions were like for the working man before Unions got involved.
Ask the Junior Doctors how they feel about Unions as a modern case in point, or do you consider working 60-100 a week and 24 hours on call OK?
It is not good for the Doctors and it is certainly not good for the Patients to be treated by someone with severe sleep deprivation.

Reply to  MarkW
May 18, 2016 1:24 pm

I have read up on that.
If you think that it was the unions that were responsible for the improvement you have no knowledge of the actual conditions and what has occurred.
Working conditions for everyone have been improving for as long as records have been kept. The only change when unions came into being was that the rate of improvement decreased as much of the companies wealth was now being channeled to the union leaders.
It was technology, bought and paid for by the companies that increased the life style of everyone.

Reply to  MarkW
May 18, 2016 5:54 pm

I was all for unions at one time. Then I joined a union and became a union official and discovered that the union was more interested in getting along with the company bosses than in representing the employees.
Unions were useful at one time, but today they have become part of the Leftwing political machine, much more interested in politics and power, and money, than in the people they are supposed to represent.

Mr Green Genes
Reply to  MarkW
May 19, 2016 12:46 am

She didn’t invent AGW, but she did use what the scientists were telling her to her political advantage.

She did, eventually, resile from her original AGW position but, by then, it was too late.

May 18, 2016 10:59 am

This thread provides a clear example of why climate activists will probably achieve the public policy changes they seek. They hold the institutional high ground in the news, government, academia, and ngos (among others). They have a simple message.
In response skeptics give the public conspiracy theories about scientists, complex explanations, and fondness for coal over cheaper and cleaner fuels (“bad free markets!”).
Meanwhile they ignore the good news, the most effective antidote to doomsters: that we are steadily moving away from the RCP8.5 scenario that powers the doomsters’ case (the basis for almost all the studies describing horrific climate futures). It’s a simple and powerful message that the public should hear.
So keep up the cheering for coal and make the climate alarmists.happy!

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 12:07 pm

… climate activists … have a simple message.
In response skeptics give … complex explanations, …
… we are steadily moving away from the RCP8.5 scenario that powers the doomsters’ case

“… steadily moving away from the RCP8.5 scenario …” is a complex explanation.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 12:09 pm

“bad free markets!”
What? Your own links describe why coal is no longer as competitive as it used to be.
“what’s really hit coal is the increase in the carbon tax, the move from £8 to £18 under the carbon floor price floor last year, which really hurt them and flipped the economics over from barely profitable to loss-making.”
So they subsidize solar, wind and biomass while penalizing coal and somehow this is still a free market? Now coal is used to hit peak demand (which is a stupid use for it) and when total demand gets low enough coal use drops below the minuscule solar generation. This is news?
If you raise the carbon tax to 40 pounds you could probably eliminate coal use all summer!

Reply to  Jerry
May 18, 2016 12:19 pm

According to many communists that I have dealt with, anything short of pure communism is some form of free-market.
It allows them to excuse the failures of communism, because the communism wasn’t pure enough. Next time it will work.

Questing Vole
Reply to  Jerry
May 19, 2016 2:28 pm

And when the coal plants are down – to reduce their Carbon Tax bills and save their operating hours for the winter quarter – and the wind drops, the National Grid has to issue its first shortfall notice in eight years and pay massively over the odds for enough electricity to stop the lights going out. This was just a couple of weeks ago.

Reg Nelson
Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 12:36 pm

It was clear from the Climategate emails that the leading scientists in this field conspired to dodge FOIA requests. That’s not a theory it is a fact.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 1:23 pm

It is telling how you editor of Fabius Maximus misrepresent.
Where are free markets in heavily subsided eolics and sun? or the taxes that punish fossil fuel?
What are cleaner fuels? How do you measure it?
It is cleaner to use rare materials? It is cleaner to dig a big hole to have exotic materials?
My “eco” lamps have to be dropped in specific trash containers because they are very poisonous.
Their processing is accounted for?
I have nothing against that someone builds a sun park or an eolic park, if build with their investors money.
Energy diversification is by itself welcome since it increases redundancy.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 3:02 pm

what really makes them happy, larry, is appeasement.
your vichy blog promotes their party line.
collaborator, you.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 5:42 pm

I once read that you could determine the rank/experience of the officer you were up against, by how much of the troops were held in reserve.
We need new officers.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 6:00 pm

Editor of the Fabius Maximus, website May 18, 2016 at 10:59 am wrote: “This thread provides a clear example of why climate activists will probably achieve the public policy changes they seek. They hold the institutional high ground in the news, government, academia, and ngos (among others).”
Yeah, the only problem is the facts are not on their/your side. They have all agreed to believe in the CAGW theory, even though there is no evidence that it is or will be a reality.
“Institutional highground” means nothing if the institutions are wrong.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 6:05 pm

well said, editor.

Tsk Tsk
Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 18, 2016 6:46 pm

I’m curious, does worrying about “dying oceans” qualify one as a doomster?
The end is nigh. Repent, Sinner!!

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
May 20, 2016 10:38 am

The current climate is the best climate in at least 500 years.
Why make radical changes, based on unproven greenhouse theories, to change that?
One does not have to be fond of coal to oppose the theory that coal causes global warming.
Where was all the global warming from 1940 to 1975?
Where was all the global warming from 2005 to 2015?
Didn’t people burn coal in those years?
Hmm … maybe the theory is wrong.
Environmentalists attack nuclear power, fracking, and burning oil for electric power … and offer only intermittent, low density, expensive energy sources, that require near 100% fossil fuel backup for nights with no wind.
Only a fool would cheerlead for the death of coal with NO ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATIVE allowed by the Environmental Nazi’s..
You appear to be such a fool.

May 18, 2016 11:04 am

Low density, unstable production, short-life energy conversion technologies offer the promise of higher profits. They also offer politicians a plausible premise to corral people in high density population centers. There is more green and democratic leverage in “green” technology.

May 18, 2016 11:18 am

Coal actually is a problem, but it’s still worth burning, at least until we build modern modular nuclear reactors. Modular IFRs or molten salt reactors are able to burn nearly 100% of fuel and most of the waste versus old 60s designs burning about 1% of fuel and create a huge waste problem. Coal contains U and Th at significant levels. Fly ash is radioactive, producing alpha emissions which are a serious problem in lung tissue. Mercury and other metals seep from ash pools.
An old ORNL study ( describes the kinds of radionuclides in fly ash. Their analysis of the impact is somewhat flawed since they apparently assume radioactivity is individually dispersed by atom, and not concentrated in the fly ash itself.
From the image above, it is clear lung tissue could be exposed to much higher doses than possible from single atoms of U or daughter radionuclides. Coal should be phased out, but not at the cost of destroying the economy. More people will die from a poor economy than from some slightly elevated level of lung cancer. Presumably, smoking would be more dangerous than coal fly ash in most cases (Beijing a counter-example?).
It’s a good idea to compare relative risks. This problem of lack of comparison has been a big problem preventing the public from properly evaluating the impact of Fukushima. A good start is the famous XKCD banana equivalent dose, comparing the naturally occurring 40K radioactivity in a banana to other things that may seem very scary.
I haven’t double-checked the dose from living near a coal plant reported in the chart. That value is likely a whole-body dose, and not representative of local exposure of lung tissue to actual fly ash particles.

Reply to  Hoser
May 18, 2016 11:48 am

As long as you avoid snorting the fly ash, you don’t have a problem.
Precipitators remove the vast majority of the fly ash from the flue gases.

Reply to  MarkW
May 18, 2016 12:39 pm

Avoiding the fly-ash was pretty much what I was saying. A 1% release is fine. But perhaps in Beijing fly ash might be a problem. 30 years from now we may have some data on that. If you look at the figure, you see radiation tracks from alpha particles (they call it “fission”, but I’m sure it’s just decay). When the spherule is sitting on live tissue, alpha particles are very powerful mutagens. Constant exposure to alpha internally is much more dangerous than beta. The point is, the spherules concentrate the radiation from coal. It can’t be diluted beyond the spherule. We ordinarily depend on dilution to render radiation exposure from a one-time event insignificant in short order.

Reply to  Hoser
May 18, 2016 12:46 pm

If you look at the figure, you see radiation tracks from alpha particles (they call it “fission”, but I’m sure it’s just decay). When the spherule is sitting on live tissue, alpha particles are very powerful mutagens. Constant exposure to alpha internally is much more dangerous than beta. The point is, the spherules concentrate the radiation from coal. It can’t be diluted beyond the spherule. We ordinarily depend on dilution to render radiation exposure from a one-time event insignificant in short order.

The good thing is that a sheet of paper will block alpha particles, so just don’t leave it on your skin, ie long sleeves and if really bad a mask, and don’t snort it if you can help it(ie a mask is your friend).

Tsk Tsk
Reply to  MarkW
May 18, 2016 6:49 pm

Decay is fission. You are thinking of chain reactions/criticality or at least neutron initiated fission.

Billy Liar
Reply to  Hoser
May 18, 2016 12:15 pm

Fly ash activity from US coal is extremely low, <300 Bq/kg. cf 4,400 Bq from K40 in a normal 70kg person.

Reply to  Billy Liar
May 19, 2016 8:28 am

Based on first principles, it seems highly unlikely the tracks in the image I showed were produced by U or daughters. Estimates of U in spherules is 20 ppm, material concentrated by a factor of 10 from the original coal. It is possible to estimate the decay rate for that amount of material in a 10 or 100 µm diameter spherule. See I am using only alpha emission (possibly an error) the decay rate including daughters will be 9 times the U rate alone. Using a density of 5 (WAG), we should expect about 10 times the 200 Bq/kg number for total alpha emission. However, in 30 days, would only expect about 30 alpha particles for a 100 µm spherule as shown in the image. But clearly there are about 10 times that number of tracks in the emulsion. Did they expose the emulsion for 300 days? No materials and methods to check, unfortunately. I’m left with perhaps 3 choices: 1) 300+ days of exposure, 2) more like 200 ppm U in spherule, 3) other radionuclides are present in spherules besides U and daughters.
Bottom line, I find it difficult to explain how 200 Bq/kg could produce the image observed. Furthermore, I’m not considering geometry and self-shielding. Consider, 40K is distributed in solution, and not concentrated in a small volume like the spherule.

Reply to  Hoser
May 18, 2016 12:26 pm

If I remember correctly, the prompt dose from an atomic bomb detonating far enough away you’re not vaporized is a few hundred mSv or less, I do remember it’s very survivable, at ground zero it’s the heat (and buildings falling on you) you have to hide from, and if it doesn’t kill you, likely protected you from the hard stuff. After the explosion is over , you have to stay covered, and don’t breath or ingest radioactive dust. Most of the nasty stuff decays in 2 or 3 months, and a lot more decays over another 6-12 months.

Reply to  Hoser
May 18, 2016 8:55 pm

Hoser: good info, but there is more to the equation all should know. It is true that lung deposition of alpha emitters can produce localized high dose rates. However there are factors that help mitigate the potential problem of lung ingestion. 1) Fly ash particles are fairly large and our bodies are adept at removing large airborne particles long before the particle can reach the alveoli of the lung. The removed particles typically are trapped and swallowed into the alimentary canal. Natural uranium, the principle radionuclide in fly ash is poorly taken up by the body via the alimentary canal. We poop out 99% of alimentary ingested uranium – except for special forms of uranium to which very few are exposed . 2) The lung has mechanisms that remove inhaled particles that are absorbed at the alveoli, but typically a 1 um particle will get transferred to the blood with eventual egestion via normal excretory functions. There are three classes of particles (D, W, and Y) which essentially reference the body’s ability to remove the particle (and conversely retention). We have tons of formulas, tables and studies on the removal/retention of radioactive particles from the lungs. Being a retired health physicist, I have lost some of my ability to be conversant in the subject, but I’ll do some homework and see if I can find more info on fly ash. Fly ash has not been a big issue in the health physics world because it poses very little risk.

Reply to  aGrimm
May 19, 2016 8:50 am

comment image
Size distribution of fly ash spherules. 10 µm particles are the right size to enter the lung, penetrate deeply, and tend to stay. Rough guess, maybe 10 to 20% of the fly ash is the right size to get deep into the lung and stay. From memory, from classes long ago: 1 µm and smaller are breathed in and out immediately. 100 µm and larger don’t go deep into the lungs, and are removed rapidly by silia and swallowed. Smokers often have damaged silia, so they don’t eliminate spherules effectively.

Reply to  Hoser
May 19, 2016 7:24 am

Hoser says:
Mercury and other metals seep from ash pools.
Wrongo. The university study performed on wildlife living in ash-pond water where I worked showed that, other than selenium, all other metals were virtually insoluble in the river water (pH ~ 8.1).

Reply to  beng135
May 19, 2016 9:19 am

Not fly ash. Fly ash is a small fraction of the total ash.

Irrespective of what form of Hg is present in the coal, the extremely volatile elemental Hg is
released during combustion. Chlorine and S in fly ash are two main elements that play a major
role in the sorption of mercury in fly ash (Meij, 1995). The condensation of Hg on fly ash
particles as the water soluble form HgCl2 may pose a risk for of contaminating groundwater.
However, of particular note is the low or non detectable concentrations of Hg leached by TCLP
or water based procedures for a large number of Australian and American fly ash samples
(EPRI, 1998; Jones, 1995; Pflughoeft-Hassett, 2004). The concentrations of Hg in leachates are
extremely low, in most cases <0.2 µg/L (often <0.02 µg/L), across the 4.5-13 pH range and
show no pH dependence (Nathan et al., 1999; Pflughoeft-Hassett, 2004, Sanchez et al., 2006).
Due to the toxicity of this element, small releases would trigger a regulatory response.
However, the levels reported in the literature suggest that Hg leaching is not of major
environmental concern in coal fly ash. There is a consistent lack of correlation between the
total Hg concentration and leachable Hg, and no significant difference as a function of the L/S
ratio or between short- and long-term leaching procedures (Pflughoeft-Hassett, 2004; Sanchez
et al., 2006). Mercury leaching appears to be controlled by adsorption from the aqueous phase,
with strong interaction between adsorbed Hg molecules (Sanchez et al., 2006).

It would seem we are on the right track to understand what is really going on. Hg may be released in the gas phase, but if it is captured as HgS, it will not be soluble.
EPA notes Hg is still being released from coal-fired power plants, and amounts to 40 to 50% of the total Hg deposited in US each year. The balance is coming mainly from Asia.
Sources of Mercury Emissions in the U.S. (
Industrial Category 1990 Emissions tons per year (tpy) 2005 Emissions (tpy) Percent Reduction
Power Plants 59 53 10%
Municipal Waste Combustors 57 2 96%
Medical Waste Incinerators 51 1 98%

Reply to  beng135
May 19, 2016 11:06 am

Hoser, flyash amounts from a coal powerplant are an order of magnitude or more greater than bottom ash. It doesn’t matter anyway — all plants in my utility were phased over to dry flyash removal via vacuum pumps and stored in dry-flyash silos.
And mercury? Mercury, shmercury — emitted vaporized amounts via the stack are insignificant and diluted to harmless levels by simple dispersion. Plants w/scrubbers remove even those tiny amounts.

John G.
May 18, 2016 11:29 am

And Hillary will provide the cherry on top by administering the coup de grace to the Appalachian coal industry putting all of the out of work miners on luxury welfare where they will wile away their remaining years eating fois gras and peeled grapes. Oh frabjus day, calous calais, thou hast surely slain the Jaberwock of climate change. The miners can hardly wait.

May 18, 2016 11:32 am

“Portugal ran entirely on renewable energy for 4 consecutive days last week”
– One of coldest May months ever in registry
– One of wettest May months ever in registry
Result: River Dams at full electrical production. Dams that “greens” are always protesting every build.
Talk about misrepresenting what happened with flashy websites where not even a picture of a dam.

Billy Liar
May 18, 2016 11:59 am

Every GW produced by solar installations dissipates a further 5GW of heat into the local surroundings some of which would normally have been reflected by the higher albedo surface covered by the panels.
It’s like painting the town black and wondering why local temperatures have gone up. A new form of UHI affecting solar farms and their surroundings.

May 18, 2016 12:36 pm

WUWT should start a black out/brown out pool. This would work like a death pool, except we’d be taking bets on when and where the first widespread black outs in the power grid occur due to improper infrastructure.
My bet is on somewhere in Britain, winter 2018-19, though the NE USA will be close behind.

Gerry, England
Reply to  RWturner
May 18, 2016 1:11 pm

Put your money on UK 2016-17 as capacity is closing very fast now. Some is planned but the damage being done by renewables is making coal plants lose money so they are being closed even if it means paying a fine of £25m to the government. And because those running our energy policy are mentally retarded, having said that gas use will be phased out soon, nobody is willing to build any new gas generation. So the loonies propose to use taxpayers’ money to subsidise gas generation to make it competetive against the taxpayer subsidised renewables. No, you honestly couldn’t make this up. Another bonus of increased wind and solar during the summer is grid instability. If there are sudden drops in wind or sun, when the backup comes on it could crash the grid so it could be blackouts this summer.

May 18, 2016 1:04 pm

In response skeptics give the public conspiracy theories about scientists, complex explanations, and fondness for coal over cheaper and cleaner fuels
1. Do NOT paint “us” all with the same brush.
2. In general, we respond to bad science with good science. That’s our response. That some minority supposes a conspiracy as a REASON for bad science, does not change the bad/good science paradigm.
3. Complex science requires complex explanations. Would you rather we resort to innacurate sound bytes?
4. No one has a fondness for coal over “cheaper and cleaner fuels”. That would be stupidity. You once again smear us with the same brush. Further, your argument that at a given level of “clean”, LNG beats coal is disingenuous. If your impoverished country has coal reserves, but not natural gas, it isn’t even a contest.
That’s the bull cr*p in just two of your sentences.

Reply to  davidmhoffer
May 18, 2016 1:52 pm

Oh my mistake. That’s only ONE sentence.
See Larry? When I’m obviously wrong, I own up to my mistakes.
What do you do?

Paul Courtney
Reply to  davidmhoffer
May 18, 2016 5:45 pm

Evidently, he doesn’t answer.

Peter Morris
May 18, 2016 1:16 pm

Right. I’m so sure “renewables” are going to power the future. Unless by “renewable” one means hydroelectric and fusion, it ain’t happening.

Norbert Twether
Reply to  Peter Morris
May 18, 2016 2:08 pm

How much coal and gas does it take to manufacture each of those wind turbines and solar panels? To ensure continuity every wind turbine must be “self-replicating” – and also provide power for the country.
Think about that – every turbine must supply enough power to replace itself or they will eventually reduce in number until none are left
And they must also supply power to run not only all of those electric motors and lights but also heat all of the buildings – and in the future – all of the transport system (requires two-and-a-half times the power produced now).

May 18, 2016 1:26 pm

From a previous thread, I repeat my question to you for the fourth time.
I reproduce the 3rd request here for your convenience:
davidmhoffer April 24, 2016 at 10:18 am
Larry: 3rd Request!
davidmhoffer April 23, 2016 at 10:48 am
Larry Kummer;
I repeat my comment from upthread as you have failed to respond to it. In your reply to Steven Mosher you said:
can you provide a published source to support it?
To which I replied:
The appeal to authority card in all its glory.
Can you cite a single example of a climate science “experiment” which can be replicated?
Per Einstein, all you need is one.
I repeat my request.
Larry: You’ve made an assertion which you haven’t seen fit to support with a single example. You can support your assertion, you can admit that you are wrong, or you can quietly ignore this simple request which would make you guilty of the exact crisis in science you accuse others of.

Ernest Bush
May 18, 2016 2:09 pm

The Portuguese operated from plants burning wood for the most part, not on solar or wind power, on those days. How many other of those articles is misleading?
There are way too many skeptics going on about lowering CO2 emissions these days. When did they start allowing Warmists win the language war with regard to CO2 output. Also, if all Western societies go so far as to drastically reduce CO2 output, then we will destroy our economies while making practically no discernible difference in CO2 reduction. When did we white guys get so stupid?
The rest of the world is going to determine the future of world economics and environmental practices. They outnumber us 4 to 1 and they are creating economic wealth at a very fast pace. Some of those countries are already ignoring our attempts at leadership in environmentalism and the number will grow.

Warren Latham
May 18, 2016 2:20 pm

The first line gives it away: ” … major driver” !
I suppose Mr. Kummer is on the great global warming gravy train.
The entire article is misguided, misleading, poetic at best but it is also a fine example of low-grade bullshit.

Chris Hanley
May 18, 2016 2:28 pm

“All three core assumptions of the RCP8.5 scenario look less likely every day; we have no reason to suppose that trend will change …”.
It’s has always been a difficult task trying to unravel the tortuous thread of logic in the writer’s essays, if there is one and if one can be bothered, and this essay is no exception but he seems to be suggesting that a global trend away from coal (an unsupported assertion) is one reason for the failure of the IPCC’s climate models particularly it’s ‘worst case — business as usual’ scenario.
It’s a meme that has come up on other blogs in short: thanks to the efforts of alarmists it looks like we are finally getting to grips with Climate Change™.
But the IPCC’s Anthropogenic Climate Change™ is allegedly due to the rising concentration of atmospheric CO2 and there has been no apparent change in that trend:

May 18, 2016 2:47 pm

Good news, for many reasons
Britain is using more solar (yellow) power and burning less coal (black).

You do realise, I hope, that solar produces at much less than 4% of its capacity during winter months in the UK?
And indeed at naff all during peak demand during evenings and early mornings then.
All of this solar capacity has to be backed up by proper dispatchable baseload.
Having all this solar capacity lying around to produce power in summer when it is not needed anyway is just a waste of money

Questing Vole
Reply to  Paul Homewood
May 19, 2016 2:34 pm

As Germany has already found, power from solar capacity in summer doesn’t just ‘lie around’, it is a serious risk to grid balance.

May 18, 2016 3:26 pm

As a future generation experiences cooling toward glaciation and carries out the difficult and expensive job of reopening the coal mines, a few lessons will finally be learned, all alternatives having been exhausted:
– Science is deductive not inductive especially regarding complex systems
– Sweeping chaos and nonlinear emergent pattern formation under a carpet of ignorance does not stop them from dominating most natural processes. It only stops you having the remotest chanceof understanding these processes.
– A lie remains a lie no matter how many people sing it together in unison.

H. D. Hoese
May 18, 2016 4:43 pm

As to the imminent “dying oceans”– While the oceans have received lots of human abuse it is impossible for me to believe that the scale even slightly approaches what has happened in the geological past and even some recent events. A lot of fisheries crises have been proven wrong, Worm’s work in the link, for example, not that fishermen don’t try. If you guys put your math skills to this it would help. Everyone studying the ocean should get out from behind computer screens and take a long, long, slow cruise. Scale, as some papers have noted, is important and often poorly understood. The recent oil spill is an example. The oceans were first compared to deserts, which they still are nutrient wise, now we hear about a pig-sty, which small portions are, some with our help.
Not that we should not be good stewards, and there are problems, but maybe I need to put out some more references. It is not just that “Ocean Acidification” is wrong, today’s coral “bleaching” post a counter to the claim that over 90% of the Great Barrier Reef is gone. And carbon dioxide even stimulates growth of seagrasses.
Here is a start.
ZoBell, C. E., C. W. Grant, and H. F. Haas. 1943. Marine microorganisms which oxidize petroleum hydrocarbons. Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. 27:1175-1193.

May 18, 2016 5:48 pm

I once read that you could determine the rank/experience of the officer you were up against, by how much of the troops were held in reserve.
We need new officers.

May 18, 2016 9:06 pm

As per usual Mr. Kummer conflates the monosemic term “projection” with the monosemic term “prediction” thus implying that an equivocation is a syllogism.

Reply to  Terry Oldberg
May 18, 2016 11:38 pm

Terry, 9:06 pm, I have the feeling Mr Kummer is PO’d that that day didn’t happen on April 22nd ( Earth Day) You wouldn’t hear the end of it!

May 19, 2016 1:00 am

Let me get this straight… in the UK, they’ve replaced 25% of power generation from coal with 5% from solar? Something really big is missing from this chart, like 95% of generating capacity.
Remember the saying: “activist” is to “scientist”, as “witch” is to “doctor”.

Reply to  Hivemind
May 19, 2016 3:10 am

Long discussion but … where this information comes from?
I just looked at UK grid info and found such note – “As no solar PV to date is metered centrally, we cannot show real time figures on solar PV power yet.”
So – what is discussion about?

May 19, 2016 2:08 am

Britain’s switch from coal is certainly working. This spring has been unusually cold so far. Let’s hope China doesn’t follow Britain’s example otherwise we might have another Little Ice Age!

May 19, 2016 2:42 am

Coal is here for a very long time.- yep that steam sure looks dirty-
“Japan warned of flaw in coal-fired power plants project – › World › Asia-Pacific › Japan
11 May 2016 – Japan’s plans for a massive expansion of coal-fired electricity … the largest supporter of coal-fired generation expansion around the world”
“Australia approves Abbot Point coal port expansion – BBC News
“Asian coal boom: climate threat or mirage? – ECIU
22 Mar 2016 – Claims that Asia is on the verge of a huge expansion in coal burning for … Tiger economies with the world’s four biggest coal power project pipelines, … far short of 1,000 plants, and is likely to lie in the region of around 500”

Chris Wright
May 19, 2016 3:59 am

I’m surprised to read such nonsense in WUWT.
So-called renewables are hopelessly expensive and unreliable.
A couple of days ago the total UK wind output fell to less than 300 MW, in March it fell to less than 100 MW.
Even in the best locations solar can work on average only half the time, and less taking into account falling output as the sun gets lower.
So what happens on windless nights?
One of the great human advances in the 19th century was to make us far less vulnerable to the whims of the weather, and this was achieved primarily with coal. Now we seem to be going backwards.

Reply to  Chris Wright
May 20, 2016 12:09 am

Couldn’t agree more.
Said another way: Our well-being depends on a cheap, abundant and predictable energy.
Renewables fail on, at least, 2 of the 3 conditions.

May 19, 2016 4:32 am

U.S. Policy will absolutely be determined in the coming Presidential Election. The two
candidates could not be more contrasting. Trump =Coal. Clinton=Pain.

Bob Lyman
May 19, 2016 6:12 am

Carbon Action Tracker, a website dedicated to making the statistical case for shutting down all existing coal-fired plants, recently published interesting information on countries’ plans with respect to coal-burning power capacity. According to its report, despite reductions in coal use in industrialized countries, the coal power capacity in just eight countries where capacity is growing (i.e. China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Africa, South Korea, the Philippines, and Turkey) in 2030 will be higher than the total global coal-burning capacity in 2014.
The projected capacity in the world outside of the eight listed countries in 2030 is 473 GW. If somehow all of that capacity were instead shut down as a result of government action, the global coal power capacity would still be 379 GW (20%) higher than it is today.
Unintentionally, the data reported makes another case. Driven by the compelling advantages of coal as a power generation source, eight developing countries alone are on a near-unstoppable path to much higher levels of thermal coal combustion and related greenhouse gas emissions. All the efforts of western governments to eliminate coal power plants, with the immense costs they are imposing on coal producing regions and on power consumers, will make no difference whatsoever to the attainment of the COP 21 emission reduction goal.

Questing Vole
Reply to  Bob Lyman
May 19, 2016 2:36 pm

And in the meantime, western governments eliminating reliable, flexible, affordable coal from their energy supplies are putting their own economies at risk.
It’s win-win for someone.

Bruce Cobb
May 19, 2016 8:06 am

“So keep up the cheering for coal and make the climate alarmists.happy!”
Yeah, no chance of that happening. Humanity-hating Alarmists are a sullen lot.
Maybe they didn’t receive enough of Mommy’s love, and are in continual search of it.

May 20, 2016 10:48 pm

They may not be burning as much coal but insanely they are importing wood pellets from the USA and burning them instead.

Dr. Strangelove
May 20, 2016 11:31 pm

Big bad coal is destroying our world! And the evil cows too! They emit methane. A greenhouse gas 87x more potent than CO2. 1.4 billion cows worldwide emit 369 megatons annually. They beat coal and oil combined in global warming potential. Cow fart and shit beat all our coal plants, cars, airplanes and ships. Instead of high-tech carbon capture and storage, we can just put air bags in cow’s asses.

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