Green Nightmare: War On Coal Can’t Stop Fuel’s Enduring Demand

You know the war on coal isn’t working when it’s up more than 50 percent this year. “The strength in coal is amazing,” said Trevor Sikorski, an analyst at Energy Aspects Ltd. in London. –Ladka Mortkowitz Bauerova and Mathew Carr, Bloomberg, 13 October 2016


Prices in Europe and Asia have rebounded from a half-decade of declines after China cut domestic production so much that local consumers had to step up overseas purchases. Even as nations are shutting plants and the world’s biggest wealth fund is selling out of coal companies, demand will remain little changed for decades, according to the International Energy Agency and BHP Billiton Ltd.

Analysts at Commerzbank AG and energy consultants Nena AS see prices holding at current levels at least until the end of the year as the northern hemisphere winter will boost demand and France keeps some nuclear plants offline for safety checks.

“Because of the anti-coal war, investors want to diversify away,” said Guillaume Perret, director of Perret Associates in London, which provides research on the industry. “But the demand is still there.”

Coal’s resurgence has benefited miners including Glencore Plc and Anglo American Plc, with commodities stocks up 34 percent in 2016, the best performing industry group in Europe’s Stoxx 600 index. Barclays Plc moved its European mining industry view to positive last month, saying the sector could deliver gains of more than 20 percent.

Nuclear Strain

Demand for fossil fuel-fed power is expected to increase after Electricite de France SA cut output at some of its 58 French nuclear plants for extended safety checks. The outages cut EDF’s available atomic power to 46 gigawatts, 16 percent below usual levels, according to Bruno Brunetti, a senior director of electricity at Pira Energy. A gigawatt is enough to power 2 million European homes.

Miner BHP predicts coal use worldwide will continue at current levels for the next two decades, while IEA analysts see demand rising 0.4 percent a year through 2040 in its base-case scenario. In Europe, coal production fell 3.4 percent last year, while use of the fuel only dropped by half that amount even with Britain taking steps to close all of its coal plants by 2025, BP Plc data show.

Coal demand remains robust because “a lot of the existing coal capacity has been added recently,” said Matt Brown, an analyst at Poeyry Oyj. “We are in a business with long-lived assets.”

Full story here

h/t to The GWPF

68 thoughts on “Green Nightmare: War On Coal Can’t Stop Fuel’s Enduring Demand

  1. There was a rumor circulating that George Soros was buying up bankrupt coal properties for fractions of a penny on the dollar. Has anyone verified that supposition?

    • Well these days the dollar is worth just pennies anyway.
      I recently bought a very nice steak and kidney pie the spitting image of the pies I used to buy for lunch in elementary school.
      Tasted every bit as good as the ones I bought last century, and the price was only 100 times what I paid for my school lunch pies. Well just for full disclosure, there was no such thing as a school lunch in those days.
      They had this quaint idea that parents should feed their own kids, so I bought my lunch from the pie shop, with my own pocket money, just as if I had been shopping for say a cell phone, but in those days, kids weren’t hung up on finger toys.
      So POTUS Obummer set out to make the coal companies worthless, and recently bragged about how worthless they were becoming on his watch.
      Well one man’s worthless, is another man’s buying opportunity.
      Can’t blame Soros for doing what any smart capitalist would do.
      Remember when Bill Clinton locked up the vast Western low sulfur coal reserves, so his Chinese commie buddy would then have the best of the rest.
      Well actually, I believe that western “low sulfur” coal is actually high in sulfur if you measure it in Joules per tonne of sulfur.

      • Can’t blame Soros for doing what any smart capitalist would do.
        Right you are, George e, …… especially when Obama offers a helping hand.

        Did the George Soros divestment in Petrobras precede a far larger reinvestment? Soros was recently exposed by Glenn Beck as possibly attempting to exploit the weakness of American energy companies, whose operations were recently frozen by President Obama, after the Deep Horizon oil rig disaster. But did the George Soros divestment in Petrobras precede a reinvestment? Did Soros quietly get in, out, and then, back in to Brazil’s massive state run oil giant?
        Soros’ purchase of Petrobras shares comes at an interesting time. Not for any investment standpoint, really. Petrobras as a stock has been quite a dud all year. But something to consider is this is not typical behavior for any reputable fund. On the May 18 broadcast of the Glenn Beck show, Beck makes the point by sourcing the Forbes headline about Soros’ Petrobras buy. Beck went after Soros in 2009 just before the Export Import Bank of the United States said it had offered Petrobras a $2 billion loan to drill deep off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. Did Soros know of the loan in advance? Was President Barack Obama’s timing a little too convenient, when he provided financing to a company in which Soros is heavily invested in?
        Soros is also a big Democratic fund raiser and clearly has strong influence in the Democrat party. The argument could be made that Soros was buying the stock because his contacts in the US government told him that they were going to fund Petrobras to drill for oil, which could result in a boon for Petrobras shares.
        Read more @

        YUP, Obama has declared that US East and West coast drilling for oil and gas is “off limits” to US drilling companies …….. but then Obama authorized the offering of a $2 billion loan to drill for oil deep off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.

    • Show me he did not “short” the company(s) and then cover that position when the stock went to near zero.
      His main interest is money, not coal nor the climate.

    • He bought Arch and Peabody but before they filed. He certainly could have done a lot better. Mind you, he could have been short the debt and hedging some of the commodity exposure. It’s a bit hard to tell what any trade means.

  2. China’s native coal is of poor quality, I believe, and they are buying from here and Europe I assume, since they continue to build coal plants, albeit clean coal plants. I suppose that is what’s drivbing up prices for high quality coal.
    I believe that the opinion about coal continuing to do well well into the future is more whistling past the graveyard. Technology, in the form of molten salt nuclear reactors, will kill King Coal : it’s cheaper and fuel is never going to be exhausted and has an insignificant cost, and it can provide a big side benefit by burning nuclear wastes, rendering them low level radioactive , easilly stored,. Those nuclear wastes can power this country with all of the electricity it needs for the next 1000 years.

    • I think it’s closer to a man in his mid-fifties shouting “I’m not dead yet” at talk of early retirement. Coal power isn’t going to last forever, and the pollution aspect (soot, not CO2) will cause it to eventually go out of favor, as weill enhanced nuclear technology. The real issue is people triyng to force it out before the existence of viable replacements

      • Soot is often referred to as “CARBON” which is a well known source of stored chemical energy which can be released by converting it to carbon dioxide which is a natural plant food source.
        So modern “coal” fired power plants, are very efficient at turning the soot form of carbon into CO2 and thermal energy availability.
        Somebody once calculated that if the USA could improve the efficiency of its coal fired power plants by just 0.033% per year (3% per century), the then known US coal reserves would last forever; the miracle of compound interest.
        So a bit early to hold a wake for coal.

    • There is no evidence that molten salt or thorium will ever be permitted, and in the case of thorium, there have been no actual plants of any size actually built.

    • It is inconceivable that China, that huge country of size comparable to the US, would have uniformly poor quality coal.

      • Jake , as far as I can tell they are buying in huge quantities from Australia, their own mines are so inefficient and dangerously outdated ( many miners are killed each year, a condition that would shut down mines elsewhere) that is the way they will keep on keeping on with coal for many years to come They are also commissioning 4-5 new power stations each week or so. The Soros take over of a number of producers after Obama’s regulations virtually killed the US coal industry is well documented but hey after he bought them out the export restrictions were magically lifted and the coal is heading to Asia as we speak.

      • “asybot October 14, 2016 at 7:28 pm”
        Correct. While there are plans here in Australia to shutdown coal, we export most mined coal to China, India and the rest of Asia. We also export most of LPG to the same locations. Meanwhile, we have basket case states such as South Australia that relies on ~40% wind/solar (Or whatever) and the interlink to Victoria which proved to be a massive fail recently, and in a classic example of contagious insanity the other states and territories have indicated they want to play fool too. The Chinese are looking at resources in Africa too.

      • Correct. China has very large reserves of both Anthracite [high calorific value], and lignite [low calorific value coal. Both are economically valuable.

    • Arthur4563
      As someone who actually wanders around the world burning coal (and everything else I can find that will heat homes) I can offer that Chinese coal is in general, young. Like Mongolia, it is more to the north and centre, with Shanxi being the major source. Mongolian coals are almost all young. There is some terrible coal in the SW of China with fluoride in it and arsenic. That stuff should be put through a SASOL-like process to make plastic and chemicals like diesel so it can be entirely removed.
      It will surprise many people that ‘good quality’ doesn’t necessarily mean what is assumed: ‘low’ quality means high in volatiles. Well, volatiles are just hydrocarbons. Hydrogen has 4 times the energy of carbon per kg so 7% hydrogen by mass = 28% carbon, Joule for Joule. There is nothing wrong with volatiles.
      Low quality can also mean high ash. That has nothing to do with the energy per burnable kg, it is just a waste of money to transport and dispose of it. What I am saying is that the term low quality doesn’t necessarily mean much. It certainly doesn’t mean ‘smoky’ or ‘dusty’. That is a function of the combustor design and gas treatment.
      A couple of weeks ago I tested a Chinese-made coal burner loaded with Shanxi bituminous coal that was not only producing zero PM2.5, it was removing 90% of the ambient PM2.5 from the air (reduced from ambient 235µg to 21 µg/m3 in the stack). So if by ‘quality’ is mean ‘ability to burn cleanly’ clearly China has ‘good coal’ provided it is put into a ‘good burner’. Some stoves can remove 100% of the ambient PM at least part of the time, some most of the time. Suck on that anti-coal warriors! Welcome to real science and engineering.
      As soon as it is admitted that the context of coal use defines the result, one is on the right track to understanding how to talk about what is intended by ‘coal quality’.
      I was shown today a photo of a coal seam in Kyrgyzstan 90 metres thick – laid down when there was a heck of a lot more CO2 in the air. I am doing my best to help the poor put it back as efficiently and with as little risk as possible.
      Greetings from the front.

      • Very well said Crispin. Always love your factual posts debunking the anti-energy anti-human doom preachers.

      • Always love a success story. Much more enjoyable than a sucks eggs story.
        And coal is a renewable too Crispin. Our descendants will have to look for where we buried it though.

    • No, China won’t be importing more coal…
      The situation is complicated and changing fast…
      There is a ban on new coal plant, but many exceptions, increasing overcapacity and less need for costal areas which have been importing coal to continue that as new power lines will provide supply.
      This article sets it out: ‘winter is coming’ for the Chinese col power industry.
      Indian coal power plants are also running at well under peak capacity, the India govt is banning coal imports from 2020 and will continue in its plan to provide 175 GW of renewables by 2022

      • I hate to click on anything from greenpiss, I always have to wonder about viruses.
        However your article says there’s too many power plants, NOT that they will be cutting back on coal any time soon. The fact of the matter is that China will continue to pump CO2 into the atmosphere long after the Paris agreement has been hailed as a FAILure.

      • Goodness Me Griff where do you get this bulshit from.
        China has just got approval for a major open cut coal mine in NSW Australia.
        India are to import coal from one of the biggest coal reserves in Queensland Australia.
        Your information/propaganda is total rubbish.

      • “Frank Karvv October 15, 2016 at 12:49 pm”
        Thanks for pointing that out to Griff. He’s not to well up-to-date with reality.

    • @ arthur4563

      since they continue to build coal plants, albeit clean coal plants. I suppose that is what’s drivbing up prices for high quality coal.

      Trivia info, to wit:

      In general terms, based on the rank, coal can be classified as either “thermal” coal or “metallurgical” coal. Thermal coal is lower in carbon content and calorific value, higher in moisture value, is the world’s most abundant fossil fuel and is primarily used to produce energy.
      Metallurgical coal is less abundant than thermal coal and is primarily used in the production of coke which is an important part of the integrated steel mill process. Metallurgical coal is primarily sold to steel mills and used in the integrated steel mill process.

  3. Based on U.S. coal production in 2014 of about 1 billion short tons, the U.S. estimated recoverable coal reserves would last about 256 years. link

    The alarmists have to kill off coal using reasons other than price and supply. It’s cheap and abundant.

  4. Maybe. But who knows when that might happen? Could be decades away, and in the mean time, we will still need increasing amounts of electricity supply.

  5. “about 256 years”- gee, that’s a pretty tight number for “about.” I have to roll my eyes when I see a prediction like that. Accurate to less than 1/2 percent? I get their point, but come on.

      • In 2^8 years.
        Not 2^7, nor 2^9.
        Well. I ASSUME.
        ‘About’ seems tolerable to me.
        Auto; glad it is the weekend.
        And wouldn’t it be nice to have an end to the US POTUS Camp-pain??!!
        Sorry, neighbours across the pond; neither enthuses.
        Maybe the one would be worse, or the other – but, please, get it over.
        BBC is unrelenting Trump is worse than 18.8 Devils Incarnate.
        Yeah – they’re impartial
        Other sites seem to think HRC is worse still. . . . . . . . .
        Please, get it over.

    • That’s just because you are stuck thinking in the decimal system. It only has one significant digit in Hex.
      You have no idea what accuracy they are claiming because they didn’t say. And your middle school science teacher (mine too) was stuck trying to convey a concept to kids who don’t have the math background to go deeper.
      Don’t confuse precision and accuracy.

    • Mongolians use about 4.5 tons of coal per year to heat an urban house (about half the population lives in Ulaanbaatar). In terms of resources, they have something like 300,000 tons per person, in the ground. That is enough to last about 400,000 years at the present rate of consumption.
      I guess consumption will go up during the next 4 ice ages so the number of heating seasons will be a little less than 400k.

  6. Soros and others in the climatocracy are busy buying interests in coal. At least part of the war on coal was to create buying opportunities.

  7. wiki leaks – emails-
    “What’s the difference between a German and a shopping cart? A shopping cart has got a mind of its own”
    “Germany’s energy policy manages to harm the environment and cripple the German economy at the same time……….. That’s yet another example of German gawd-awful Gutmenscherei, more aptly described as Vollidioterei – which is set to do more ever-lasting damage to the whole of Europe than all other previous German extremist ideologies combined. Normally, I would look for corroborating evidence in the local media, but the only thing you can learn from the German press is that there are 50 ways to tell a ludicrous lie about Mama Merkel & her Multikulti Morass”

  8. Big surprise. As the developing countries have no surplus funds to waste they chose the cheapest energy source.
    If there is no local source of natural gas, the cost for imported natural gas is roughly four time greater than the cost of coal.
    The cult of CAGW have ignored the engineering issues and economic issues associated with the green scams in addition to ignoring observations that indicate the foundation of CAGW is completely incorrect.
    There is zero discussion of the energy required to ship the competing energy sources which reduces the advantage of using natural gas over coal.
    Liquefying natural gas for LNG transport by ship and the energy required to re-gasify the liquid requires roughly 30% of the energy content of the natural gas.
    The energy to transport natural gas long distance by pipeline is also roughly 30% of the energy content of the natural gas transported. The very high energy required to transport the natural gas is due to the physics of transporting a gas. The gas heats up when compressed, that heat energy is lost to warming the earth and atmosphere.
    Coal is by far the cheapest and most reliable source of energy for almost all developing countries and many developed countries.
    Coal is a solid which enables is to be cheaply shipped by sea and then by rail.
    Coal can be easily and cheaply stockpiled at site to reduce the risk of temporary weather issues interrupting power plant production.

    The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s recently released International Energy Outlook 2016 (IEO2016) projects that world energy consumption will grow by 48% between 2012 and 2040. Most of this growth will come from countries that are not in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), including countries where demand is driven by strong economic growth, particularly in Asia. Non-OECD Asia, including China and India, accounts for more than half of the world’s total increase in energy …

    P.S. The entire scientific basis of the IPCC reports is incorrect. The majority of the warming in the last 150 years was due to solar cycle changes and the majority of the atmospheric CO2 increase was due to the increase in temperature and due to an increase in deep earth CH4 release.

  9. And what is the Clean Power Plan supposed to accomplish? A 32% reduction in CO2 output from US power generation (not just coal). The US is responsible for about 16% of the world’s CO2 output. Power generation represents about 31% of US CO2 production. Therefore – 16% * 31% * 32% = 1.6%. CPP will reduce the global C2 output by 1.6%. China and India will cancel that out with their next dozen coal fired power plants.

  10. William Astley, Please, what is the source for the chart titled “Price of Metric Ton of Oil Equlvalent” ?

  11. Given the known coal sheet in Europe some today say it will last for 100 years with todays usage, but the latest estimate before the hysteria of MMGW set in, the estimate was 500+ years.
    So im curious if we now burn more coal than before since the number is changed?
    Remember the whole MMGW “industry” started as a political tool to shut down a strike in coal mines in the UK….

    • In your dreams Griff. The first link says Netherlands would have to close its last five coal generating plants, three of which came on line in the past year. The second is an announcement, completely contradicted by the present and projected use.

  12. Actually, the opposite. It’s a graphic used by ACCCE to demonstrate that the majority (at that time) of electricity in America is generated by coal.

  13. “German deep coal mining ends in 2017…” Griff
    Deep coal mining might be stopped but they are still building about 20 new coal fired power stations ( some may actually be built by now). So they are still using coal from some source.
    Given the projected cost of transition to renewables in Germany ( Euro 520 billion by 2025 or Euro25,000/head of pop.) then I don’t think the Germans will be running away from coal any time soon.
    In fact given the cost of their immigration issues and probably bailing out Deutsche Bank, I doubt whether the renewables plans will be pushed very hard.

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