Greens Forgive China their Coal Plants

Smog hangs over a construction site in Weifang city, Shandong province, Oct 16. 2015. Air quality went down in many parts of China since Oct 15 and most cities are shrounded by haze. [Photo/IC]

The Center for American Progress, a well connected green left wing Washington Think Tank, has written an article full of glowing praise for China’s high efficiency coal plants, and the contribution those plants are making towards reducing global CO2 emissions.

Everything You Think You Know About Coal in China Is Wrong

By Melanie Hart, Luke Bassett, and Blaine Johnson Posted on May 15, 2017, 12:01 am

See also: “Research Note on U.S. and Chinese Coal-Fired Power Data” by Melanie Hart, Luke Bassett, and Blaine Johnson

China’s energy markets send mixed signals about the nation’s policy intentions and emissions trajectory. Renewable energy analysts tend to focus on China’s massive renewable expansion and view the nation as a global clean energy leader; coal proponents and climate skeptics are more likely to focus on the number of coal plants in China—both in operation and under construction—and claim its climate rhetoric is more flash than substance.

In December 2016, the Center for American Progress brought a group of energy experts to China to find out what is really happening. We visited multiple coal facilities—including a coal-to-liquids plant—and went nearly 200 meters down one of China’s largest coal mines to interview engineers, plant managers, and local government officials working at the front lines of coal in China.

We found that the nation’s coal sector is undergoing a massive transformation that extends from the mines to the power plants, from Ordos to Shanghai. China is indeed going green. The nation is on track to overdeliver on the emissions reduction commitments it put forward under the Paris climate agreement, and making coal cleaner is an integral part of the process.

China is greening its coal fleet

Beijing is stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, China cannot eradicate coal-fired power from its energy mix overnight. China has not yet figured out how to develop its own natural gas supplies—which are more difficult to access and therefore more expensive than those in the United States—and renewable energy expansion takes time. On the other hand, Chinese citizens are demanding cleaner air, and they want immediate improvements. Air quality is now a political priority for the Chinese Communist Party on par with economic growth and corruption. This means that China cannot continue to run the same high-pollution coal plants that were considered acceptable decades ago. Beijing’s solution is to move full speed ahead with renewables while simultaneously investing in what may become the most efficient, least polluting coal fleet the world has ever seen.

Not all coal-fired power is created equal. Emissions and efficiency—the latter being the amount of coal consumed per unit of power produced, which also affects emissions—vary dramatically based on the type of coal and coal-burning technology used. What many U.S. analyses of China’s coal sector overlook is the fact that Beijing has been steadily shutting down the nation’s older, low-efficiency, and high-emissions plants to replace them with new, lower-emitting coal plants that are more efficient that anything operating in the United States.

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The Center for American Progress was founded by John Podesta in 2003, the same John Podesta who later went on to run Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Podesta has been associated with the Clintons since at least the mid 90s.

I find it fascinating that such a well connected left wing organisation has made such an effort to sing the praises of Chinese coal.

The argument that China has no choice other than to use coal for the time being, because they don’t have access to easily recoverable gas like the USA does, is utter nonsense. Even if China does have more difficulty accessing gas than the USA, if China really wanted to cut CO2 emissions, they could simply expand their already substantial zero emissions nuclear fleet.

191 thoughts on “Greens Forgive China their Coal Plants

  1. So they had a conducted tour of plants sanctioned by the government and saw only what the regime wanted them to see. Reminds of what my socialist uncle said when he visited Soviet Russia in the 60s. Being shepherded around the place by “tour guides” made him think that all was not as it appeared to be

    • Potemkin village
      “In politics and economics, a Potemkin village is any construction (literal or figurative) built solely to deceive others into thinking that a situation is better than it really is.”

      • This task is made easier when the group that is to be deceived is made up of the sort halfwit the follows John Podesta around.

    • Check out Paul Hollander’s Political Pilgrims, David. He describes in detail the trips of yearning left-wngers to the USSR and elsewhere, looking for paradise on Earth and finding it in the political dog-and-pony shows put on by their hosts.
      The willing suspension of disbelief could not be on greater display.
      Chomsky made such a pilgrimage to North Vietnam during the war, which I believe is described in his “American Power and the New Mandarins,” and in some detail in the NY Review of Books, reproduced here.

    • Walter Duranty ace NYTimes reporter was shepherded around Ukraine by his Soviet Communist Minders. He reported that everything was just hunky dory in Ukraine. In the real world 5 million Ukrainians died from the Soviet created famine.

      • The NYT still refuses to return Duranty’s Pulitzer, even though it admits that everything Duranty wrote was a lie.

    • most of the pollution is not from power plants. it is from the millions of factories that use coal as an energy source. these range from huge industrial complexes to mom and pop backyard operations. heat is required to work metal. coal and a bellows is a whole lot more affordable than an electric furnace.
      look at Detroit. look at the US heartland. an empty wasteland without work. no manufacturing to generate wealth. Chinese air pollution is the result of the factories that have moved from the US to China, not because of electrical production. that is a small part of where the coal is being burned.

  2. I have been to china and have experienced first hand the levels of pollution. In Chongqing people were wearing full face gas masks and I soon found out why. At the end of each day I had to was the dirt out of my eyes because they were so painful. You could not see much more than 50 metres.

      • I have seen articles like that before but it does not explain why in Xi-an the day after the pollution blew away so did every single surgical mask. Nothing cultural there I would say just simple cause and effect. Or does this just fall into the category of hearsay as I have not been paid millions for “research” If anyone does want to pay me I still haven’t been to Harbin, mid January, and would be happy to carry on researching this.

      • theorichel, Strawman much? Full face gas masks != surgical masks. The big problem with doing that is firstly it leads the people you are arguing with to believe you think they are stupid and secondly it destroys your credibility.

      • What a strange reactions. Did I deny that China has a lot of pollution? I only remembered that in the sixties when I was a young admirer of Mau et al I received magazines and books from China with photos of a happy country with streets full of people on bikes and people wearing face masks. No doubt China produced then a lot dirtier than now, but on a much smaller scale and the environment was only a problem in the polluted capitalist west.

      • Did you admire Mao before or after you realized he’d murdered 100 million of his fellows, theorichel?
        Socialist countries, by the way, have been far more polluting than capitalist ones; the difference between centralist power that can ignore and silence people, and a society operating in freedom.

      • 97 Million. ^¿^

        the environment was only a problem in the polluted capitalist west.

        Check your fly, dude. Your Communism is showing. ~¿~

      • Ha, ha. I was 12 at the time or thereabout. I wore a button with the great chairmans face on it. That startled quite a few people which I thought funny. It took some time before I realized that communists and large scale killing often go together, although I would like to know the date and source of your 100 million claim.

      • I have lived in Beijing for the last 7 years. While there are people who will wear surgical masks all the time, few do until the AQI goea over 100 and when the AQI goes over about 150 anyone who can afford 3M 9001V masks or better is wearing them (Vog masks are gaining in popularity, too). For 400+ days and sandstorms (we recently pegged the aqi meters at 999 because of pm10 dust paying us a visit from the Gobi desert), I have been known to ride my bike to work wearing a respirator (dual filters-type similar to what pro-painters will wear). I have never seen anyone wearing a full face mask, though some older women will wear full face UV-blocking polarized shields to try to prevent their face from tanning.

    • I’ve been to Beijing years back and there were many days when the smog is so dense, you can barely see buildings across the street. You go out with a white shirt and come home with a grey shirt. Funny thing about Air Canada to China, landing in Beijing the recorded message played in English, then in French, when 99% of the plane is filled with Chinese.

      • Does Air Canada, out of Quebec, play the recorded message in French First? (Kind of like the signage in stores)

      • Bus drivers in Northeast China need an instrument rating to run the streets!!!

  3. “In December 2016, the Center for American Progress brought a group of energy experts to China to find out what is really happening. We visited multiple coal facilities—including a coal-to-liquids plant—and went nearly 200 meters down one of China’s largest coal mines to interview engineers, plant managers, and local government officials working at the front lines of coal in China.”
    I’m sure China made a big donation to the Center for American Progress. Just to cover expenses of course.

    • They went nearly 200 meters into a coal mine?
      Criminy, they didn’t get past the front porch.

      • I’ll guess none of them have ever been under the surface before.
        And it helped how?
        Made me chuckle.

      • It is after all Old Clean Coal
        Old Clean Coal
        was a merry ole soul
        and gave its energy to me
        It ran things night
        and it ran things day
        and it worked without winds out at sea

    • I suspect that the Center for American Progress, like the Clinton Foundation, is for hire. A tidy, back door contribution and they’ll do whatever you want. Polish your international eco-profile? That’ll be 2 billion yuan, please.

      • I actually doubt they are quite that for sale.
        I mean, if an American Coal company wanted to hire make a donation, they would probably turn up their noses.
        Only Leftists need apply. ~¿~

      • I actually doubt they are quite that for sale.
        I mean, if an American Coal company wanted to hire make a donation, they would probably turn up their noses.
        Only Leftists need apply. ~¿~

      • Genuine progressives like myself, hate the Center for American Progress. It is a nothing but a shill for the corporatist Democrats. It actually makes perfect sense for these folks who parade as hating C02 but really don’t give a damn about it. Total hypocrites. And yes, they probably made some big bucks on this deal. The owner, John Podesta, is the Clinton advisor famous for the DNC email scandal.

  4. I like how “renewable energy expansion takes time”. It’s only a matter of time, you see. There’s nothing else that could possibly be influencing the Chinese not to build windmills instead of coal plants. Not money, certainly. Nor unreliability, good heavens no. The only downside with renewables is the time it takes to build them…

    • Sort of like Fusion power. Since at least 1970 (probably earlier) there has be another announcement promising that Fusion power will be generating our electricity within 20 years.

      • 70 years ago they where saying in 50 years.
        30 years ago they where saying in 20
        Now they are saying 10
        It is, progressing. It’s just slower going then many assumed it would be. There have been a lot of dead ends.
        The thing is, by now we know it CAN be done. Right now we could build a device that could sustain nuclear fusion (at least for a short time) and use it to produce electricity. We just haven’t perfected it to a point where we could do it economically.
        Fusion power today is kind of like where the Space Shuttle was in regards to a true SSTO. You can see where they’re going, and you know they’ll get there eventually, but they still got a lot of works to do.

    • Obviously they are aware that the renewable generation they are building and peddling to the rest of the world is rubbish. They can’t allow their own energy infrastructure to be dependent on the same effluent they are spreading to the rest of the world.

    • The Chinese are building renewable power where it suits them, mainly to bring power to places they cannot get connected to sufficient transmission lines. Interruptible power is better than no power at all.

      • DaveS

        They were fast enough to create a PV solar panel industry from scratch.

        Well, they were fast enough to create a PV solar panel industry from the Western world’s politicians’ demand for Chinese-supplied PV solar panels paid for by western taxpayer subsidies. The industry didn’t start from scratch. It started from western taxpayer cash forced from western economies by western politicians to feed the CAGW beast.

    • Yes, watermelons are still Reds at heart…birds of a feather.
      But clean coal is possible, and the USA had already gone a long way in making coal-fired plants cleaner by the late 1960s… before the Reds started shutting them all down. “We” already had excellent particulate filters, scrubbers for the trace sulfur and nitrogen byproducts, cooling towers… at least at the plants I was at all familiar with. And all of those approaches had improved considerably in the 1970s.
      Then the Reds started shutting down the uranium and petroleum refineries… whip-sawed the electricity generators from coal to oil to nuclear and then natural gas. (As I recall, before the mid-1970s, natural gas was primarily used in more expensive “peaking” units that were described to me as more akin to jet engines than traditional boilers, but it is completely possible I simply misunderstood my father’s descriptions. I used to read through my father’s operations manuals, but these were not in the ones he left.)

      • Spot on. Peaking generators use aero- derived gas turbine engines to spin the generators. These have been replaced or added on with cogeneration heat recovery or dual cycle to recover waste heat. In doing so, combined cycle efficiency is around 60%.
        The issue with gas turbine power is low efficiency or high NOx emissions. Natural gas is nearly free of sulfur, especially the bulk high pressure mains which have no added mercaptan odorant added(domestic natural gas has odorant added for safety).

    • Calling these people greens is a joke. They are far from being Greens. Much closer to Republicans in drag.

  5. China is reducing its coal fleet plans…
    (yes its Greenpeace… so follow the link in it to the official chinese govt announcement)
    “The Chinese government has ordered the vast majority of its provinces to stop permitting new coal power projects.
    According to a statement from the National Energy Administration (NEA), 28 of China’s 31 mainland provinces do not currently have the right financial or environmental conditions to build new coal capacity.”
    Meanwhile in India:
    “Gujarat Cancelling 4 Gigawatt Coal Power Plant As India Moves Away From Coal”

    • Cutting plans from 2100 plants to 2000 plants because the economy isn’t growing as fast as predicted.
      Proof positive that China has given up on coal.
      Sheesh Griff, is there any lie you won’t repeat over and over again?

      • I’m suspicious that giffiepoo and engorgio-proboscis are stagnant slime pool clutch cousins.
        More loser paid religious believers from the lands of those hated by the gods.

      • They cut 100 in a 6 month period, including some under way already… they have over capacity and now they’ve banned more coal plant starts in most of China.
        what part of that is not a slow down/reduction in future coal?
        and if the report quoted above is right all along they’ve been shutting old inefficient coal plant…

      • 100 out of 2100. Big whoop.
        They are still planning 2000, but have banned new starts?
        Griff, your brain has seized up, please see your handlers for a replacement.

    • Griff, I don’t think that Greenpeace and Cleantechnica know China very well. From at least Beijing to the north, both east and west, the cities and towns have large, old, co-gen plants that supply steam heat to businesses and apartments and condos. The heat goes on at a certain date, then off on a certain date, no matter the temp.Some of these cities,like Benxi in Lioning province, sit in a valley which causes the pollution to hang in the air for long periods of time. In Beijing, a good of the pollution rolls in from west of the city. That will not change quickly. I just happen to be passing through Beijing and Nanjing to a city south east for a wedding come Sunday.

      • One constant with Griff, he actually believes that anything printed by a government is the truth and can’t be questioned.
        He’s a good useful idiot. About the only thing he’s good at.

    • AndyG55 November 7, 2016 at 1:34 pm .
      India and China alone plan to build 1617 new coal power plants by 2030. Indonesia intends building 47.
      Between 50 and 86 new coal plants are planned for Turkey in the next few years.
      Japan and South Korea are pressing ahead with plans to open at least 60 new coal-fired power plants over the next 10 years.
      New coal-fired plants have been proposed in Germany, France, Italy, Slovakia, and the UK,Cambodia, Laos, Oman, Sri Lanka, and Uzbekistan. Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Morocco, Namibia, Senegal.
      Nothing Australia does will make one single tiny bit of difference.

    • Griff shouldn’t you be convincing China they don’t need the coal power stations all they need to do is build wind turbines and get everyone to blow. You have a new source of the power and they blow all the pollution away.

      • I’ll send them a post card.
        But I think they are all still working on the ‘all stand on a chair and jump off at the same time’ global destabilisation project…

    • I haven’t been around for a while Griff how is your immediate Artic Sea Ice catastrophe for this year going? I mean you were going on about the little squiggly line showing that it was going to happen this year. I had a quick look an looks like it’s sort of gone back into the normal slightly decreasing from year to year range.
      So is the catastrophe off and can I stop building my Arc?

      • As always, when reality doesn’t favor him, he picks ever smaller sections of reality to focus on.
        Who cares that the arctic as a whole is having one of the slowest melt seasons on record. The Pacific side is melting, so that’s what Griffie will focus on for now.

      • “Not looking so good for the sea ice LdB…
        Pacific side melting early, ice thin and low volume; extent high as dispersed ice being blown/drifiting into Atlantic, Baffin Bay to melt.”
        Oh good. Our environment is improving. More food, less poverty, more happiness.

  6. The simplest, best, way to clean up the air in cities like Beijing is to build large, centralized, coal-fired electric generating stations. The problem in these polluted cities is widely distributed, unregulated, combustion. That is how they cleaned up notoriously bad air in London. Scrub the power plant emissions and you only have CO2 and trace elements to worry about, (if you want to worry about something)

      • Yah, wouldn’t want the little people to have any independence or privacy. They might become more difficult to herd.

      • My comment has nothing to do with control and more to do with inefficient cooking and heating sources.

  7. The argument that China has no choice other than to use coal for the time being, because they don’t have access to easily recoverable gas like the USA does, is utter nonsense. Even if China does have more difficulty accessing gas than the USA, if China really wanted to cut CO2 emissions, they could simply expand their already substantial zero emissions nuclear fleet.
    China has 20 nuclear power plants under construction (vs 4 in the US). They are planning to build more. China is hoping to nearly double their current nuclear generation (32GW) in the next 3 and a half years. At that rate, they’ll easily pass the US (100GW nuclear generation) within a decade.. Considering that it takes some time and specialized resources to plan, build, and provision a nuclear facility, they are likely already expanding nuclear as fast as is practical..

    • But, nuclear power production in China doesn’t face the same lengthy and costly process that new generation in the U.S. faces. Since it is a State run regime, the State is in control of the costs. Shoot, they don’t even have to deal with Big Green EcoZealots (they have Tanks for that)

  8. I wonder how well solar plants (pv or thermal) would work in the polluted air, and I’ll bet that windmills wouldn’t be too effective without the wind to blow the pollution away.

    • If gigantic fans were set up to blow the pollution away then the wind generated by the gigantic fans could also power the windmills.

      • And the windmills will produce power to run the gigantic fans.
        Wheeee – perpetual motion, and with 20% off the top to make solar panels.
        We-e-ell, the science is settled!
        Sign me up for a million’s worth.
        PS – Mods – yes, you guessed – /SARC.
        In Wonderful Widescreen and Glorious Technicolor.

      • gigantic fans were set up to blow the pollution away
        using power from the coal plants, windmills can be used to blow away pollution rather than generate electricity.

  9. At least they admit that there are “new, lower-emitting coal plants that are more efficient that (sic) anything operating in the United States.” Let’s all start building these clean, efficient, cost-effective coal plants ASAP.

  10. This whole story is fundamentally wrong on two key facts.
    1. The Chinese plan to create the majority of their base load electricity from Nuclear and hydro, not from real time renewables. Most of the hydro is done. They have 30 nuclear plants in build and plan 300GW of capacity “in the next 10-20 years”. Nuclear and hydro are the dominant replacment for coal.
    2. And the simple fact is that new coal plants have filters/scrubbers to remove the pollutants the old plant’s don’t. That’s all it takes to get “clean” coal. The pools created are a clean up job, but not a problem, but the atmosphere is OK, only CO2 and H2O released up the chimney. Efficieny of open cycle fossil plant’s is pushed to exceed 40%. Only CCGT gas with the high temperature of the secondary heat source can deliver to 60% level. (The exhaust is used to create steam that drives a separate steam turbine in addition to the Gas Turbine’s mechanical energy driving a generator) .

    • You can put filters on existing coal plants, though the result isn’t as efficient as when they are designed in from the start.

    • brianricatt, is chinadaily one of China’s ‘free and objective’ newspapers who aren’t under control of the communist Chinese government?

      • Chinadaily is an English language newspaper. It’s owned by the government, but it appears (or at least used to appear to be — haven’t read it much lately) free to report much stuff reasonably objectively. Don’t expect it to report on power struggles in Beijing, but it’ll tell you a lot of China related stuff in well written English with a minimum of heavy handed propaganda. Here’s a link to the US edition website. Think of it as a dirty window with a restricted field of view. Maybe not the greatest viewport into China, but probably better than no viewport at all.

      • So what? RU confusing your opinions with facts, like climate scientists? Did you read the statistics on the number of nuclear plants in build around the World before commenting? To check whether Chinese have this as their strategy you can easily check from the nuclear plants in build globally , and planned. 30 or so in China currently, plan to have more than anyone by 2020, way ahead of everyone else. May I suggest becoming knowledgeable before commenting?
        ABSTRACT: “In China, now with 36 operating reactors on the mainland, the country is well into the growth phase of its nuclear power program. There were eight new grid connections in 2015, and five in 2016. Over 20 more reactors are under construction, including the world’s first Westinghouse AP1000 units, and a demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor plant. Many more units are planned, including two largely indigenous designs – the Hualong One and CAP1400. China aims to have more nuclear capacity than any country except the USA and France by 2020.”

    • A lot of coal plants have retrofitted AGCS (Air Quality Control Systems). AQCSs eat up auxiliary power (less to sell on the grid), plant site foot print and gobs of cash, but work as intended removing 1) fly ash 2) SO2 3) NOx 4) mercury. The evaporation ponds are from a lot of sources not just the AQCS.
      I have no clue what you mean by “open cycle” but coal plant net heat rates, which is proper jargon for anybody who knows anything about power generation, runs from 11,500 to 8,500 Btu/kWh or 30% to 40%. Highly unlikely that a Rankine design would exceed 40%.
      A CCPP sends about 10% up the stack, 30% CTG output, 30% STG output, 30% rejected heat to cooling system.

      • You need to study the subject more closely before commenting perhaps, then your clue would increase. It’s good to learn new things.
        Open cycle is a generation industry standard description for burning fuel and capturing no waste heat. Hence 40% ish thermal efficiency limit for burning gas and coal in boilers, however fancy, with the best technology. However CCGT, as used in most modern natural gas plants, burns the gas in gas turbines/jet engines and produces electrical energy from both mechanically driven turbines as well as the exhaust driving its own thermally efficient (T2-T1 etc.) boilers and steam turbines, hence delivering 60% thermal efficiency. These have been th dominant gas generation technology for at least 20 years in developed countries.
        This efficiency overcomes some of the fuel price premium over coal, as does the low plant CAPEX of gas, about $1B per GW, which is about half a coal plant per GW. Also quicker to build and clean. Need a gas supply though.
        But this is a lot less environmentally nasty and easy to deliver the fuel once built than coal, obs. Reduces CO2 emissions from coal by 60% directly, 50% over whole supply chain, round nubers.
        This is grid generation 101. I invite all readers to do just a little reserach and you will find these are generation basics – for New York states largest electricity source. etc.

  11. How does visiting the “front lines of coal” at a mine make any difference other than spin perception? That’s a red flag in what amounts to a whirlwind PR swing and road trip to write a travelogue report. DC is choked full of these fake research centers with a bias.

      • I was there when I was about 5 and was really impressed with the long elevator ride down to the mine, except I thought there was something wrong with it.
        I was back when I was 23 and realized what was “wrong” with it. I was more impressed at how little progress they had made at the coal face. A lot of deja vu there!
        The newborn chicks looked unchanged.

        • I grew up a couple of blocks from the lake in suburban Highland Park so got there a number of times . Great museum — and the message of industrial progress it conveyed .
          I liked the vertical slices thru a human attached to the wall of one stairwell .
          I thought you were going to say you realized the elevator ride was so long because you went to the top of the museum to get on it .

  12. No one crosses Beijing these days. The global economy is entirely dependent on Chinese GDP growth. Plus, CAP and the Podesta brothers probably feed at the Chinese table.

  13. Assuming the claim that new Chinese coal plants are more efficient than coal plants in the US, is true. The the greens should have no trouble with American power companies also replacing older coal plants with new ones.

  14. CAP is telling multiple porkies on multiple levels. Lies couched within lies. Just one example is their use of the word “emissions”. They are conflating actual pollutants, which are responsible for much of their poor air quality with the fake pollution, CO2.

  15. They use a most condescending title: how the bloody hell can they possibly know what I know.
    The so-called “Center for American Progress” appears to be the very thing that it isn’t !
    It is not a center; it is not American: it is not progress.
    Well spotted Eric. Thank you as always.

    • No, the Center For American Progress is named on the same basis as the American Cancer Society./snark

  16. Why does the media continue to refer to China as communist when they have clearly transitioned to fascist? In fact, I think it’s about time they got rid of their bloody communist flag. I have designed a nice new one for them. 3:5, as all flags should be.

    • I was born in a cave, raised in a small log cabin, and went to school in a one room building.
      I have no idea what your flag means.

  17. We keep thinking that the leaders of the left are engaging in discussions of climate change, pollution and the environment because these are the things they care about. Nothing could be further from the truth. Those are just the noble causes that they are using like a heard of Trojan horses. Their real agenda has nothing to do with noble causes. It is all about ideology, power and control.
    China has the worst air pollution on the planet, but it is a socialist country. If the left cared about the environment and pollution, they would be continually attacking China for it’s crimes against Gaia. But they don’t, because they don’t really care about Gaia at all. They care about power and political ideology. In this, they are much closer to communist China than the American people, so China gets praised, no matter what they do.
    This article makes it very clear what the real agenda of the left is all about.

  18. The center for american progress [towards socialism] gets some of its funding from Rockefeller and Soros wealth. That explains to me why the communist Chinese are getting a pass on coal.
    Another left wing source that funds them is Apple. They can’t afford to build iPhones and computers in America so they off shored manufacturing them to places like China. The result? Apple has over a quarter of a trillion dollars in cash and is keeping it in countries that shield it from paying huge amounts in taxes.
    What’s Apple to do with the money but give it to organizations such as the center for american progress…

    • The left has proudly taken the credit for demonizing the coal industry, and they lost millions of votes because of it, look how well it turned out for the Democrats.
      This article from CAP might be the first signal that the left will move away from demonizing the coal industry, they want those voters back.

      • If they move away from demonizing coal, they risk losing the eco-looney voters.
        Yea, I know that these voters would never vote for the Republican, but they can stay home.

    • They are corporatist Democrats. It is no surprise they would write an article like this. Totally phony when it comes to anything like FDR democrats who at least espouse traditional Democratic values.

      • Such as stealing from others so that you don’t have to worry about working for a living.

  19. Funny how CAP applauds in China what it opposes in the US: replacement of older less efficient plants with new, more efficient ones, as well as opposing upgrades to existing plants

    • A possible reason is that it’s faster for a nation to ‘develop’ (progress towards a modern society) with fossil fuels. Wouldn’t be surprised if this is a way for china to ‘converge’ towards us as we ‘contract’ our rate of economic growth.
      Another possible reason is that the CAP is far left Soros and Rockefeller funded and simply likes socialism and communism.

    • The last little blip of growth rate is one thing (2012 – 2013) but from Y2K (2000 – 2013) figures are quite different
      India has a 100% increase
      Europe has an 8% decrease
      USA also has an 8% decrease
      China has a 230% increase

    • Bob Armstrong, excellent graph.
      China’s spike in CO2 occurred shortly after we gave China permeant normalized trade relations (PNTR).
      It also is timed nicely with the beginning of the largest ever amount of lost manufacturing jobs in recorded history as shown in the St Louis Federal graph of manufacturing jobs link below:
      Does anybody remember back in the 90’s when Clinton was president, the Chinese communist government was caught giving illegal contributions to the DNC and Clinton? Before this occurred, Clinton was against PNTR, then he changed his mind after the contributions and was in favor of PNTR. To me, this appears to be nothing but simple political payback. The result was a royal economic screwing for America as it resulted in millions of lost good paying jobs.
      Don’t quite remember the same rabid media coverage when this came out as I’m seeing today with Trump/Russia…

  20. The detail in the actual report doesn’t support the claims in the press release. They flat-out admit they can’t get unit-level data for smaller Chinese units (< 600MW, which is a lot of them) and two of the three sources used don't report CO2 emissions. The third source (CoalSwarm) estimates it from other technical data. The report also admits that estimate is based on the 2013 global capacity factor of 59.3% while the 2016 actual US value was 52.7% and China was 47.5%. Generally, a lower capacity factor will imply lower fuel efficiency as well, meaning greater emissions per MWH.
    So they are comparing reliable and complete data including CO2 emissions for 100% of US units against estimated emissions for only the larger and newer Chinese ones, based on less than totally reliable data.

    • Clarification: I was referring to the “Research Note on US and Chinese Coal-Fired Power Data” link.

  21. From the article: “The nation [China] is on track to overdeliver on the emissions reduction commitments it put forward under the Paris climate agreement, and making coal cleaner is an integral part of the process.”
    That’s funny. China’s emissions reduction committment under the Paris Agreement equals a big, fat Zero until the year 2030.

  22. “Everything You Think You Know About Coal in China Is Wrong”
    Translation: “Coal is OK as long as western countries aren’t using it”
    No, I didn’t read the article because it’s probably full of bullshit and the purpose of the article is only to push the subtext of the headline anyway.

  23. To follow is a waste of time – unless you get well paid for it.

  24. Anyone have any idea why this article cannot be shared on Facebook? Error msg: “We had trouble using the URL you provided. Please try again later.” Not just happening to me.

  25. If china has coal, they also have gas. But gas takes investment in technology AND distribution systems. The ROI is too slow for their progress.

  26. It’s a dumping ground for Green waste, which creates an illusion of low impact technology.

  27. Podesta has been a major driver of the AGW agenda. He was Bill Clinton’s Chief of Staff. He founded the Center for American Progress with money from “progressive” billionaires, such as Sandler and Soros. Climate Progress is part of the CAP outfit, Joe Romm is a Senior Fellow at CAP.
    Carol Browner, former Obama climate czar, EPA head under Bill Clinton, a former Vice -President of Socialist International, a member of Hillary’s re-election team and a long time architect of the EPA Endangerment finding, is on the board at CAP, as is Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State.
    In turn Browner is a “Senior Counsellor” at Madeleine Albright’s Albrightstonebridge group,
    They have all been at this a long time:
    “Some of the planet’s most powerful paymasters will gather in London tomorrow to discuss a nagging financial problem: How to raise US$1 trillion for the developing world. Those charged with achieving this daunting goal will include British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, directors of several central banks, the billionaire philanthropist George Soros, the economist Lord Nicholas Stern and Larry Summers, US President Barack Obama’s chief economics adviser.
    In effect, the world’s top financiers have been told to work out how to raise at least US$100 billion a year for the rest of this decade, cash that will be used to help the world’s poorest countries adapt to climate change.”

  28. Obviously Eric’s knowledge of Chinese nuclear is a touch wanting, since China is building nearly as many new nuclear plants as the rest of the world, and has plans fro hundreds in the decades ahead AND not only can build plants faster and cheaper than the only US company (well, half U.S.) Westinghouse, which has had a devil of a time getting U.S. suppliers to produce the parts of their reactors. The Chinese also are quite capable of producing reactors every bit as good as any made by any (partial) U.S. company. The Chinese are ALSO going full speed ahead on molten salt nuclear reactor designs, the design that clearly will make current light water reactor designs obsolete from every standpoint: safety, cost, etc etc. As I recall, the Chinese were going to build LPG terminals to receive the cheap nat gas produced by fracking, and operate gas powered generators.

    • Westinghouse went into bankruptcy due to cost overruns caused by regulatory changes brought about by lawsuits by green activists. The claim by Westinghouse was that the additional regulations caused unnecessary increases in cost and delays that increased cost for little to no improvement in safety. This is in their submission to the court.
      They are re-organizing. Whether it will be sold off depends. The nuclear fuel plants still provide fuel rods.

  29. CAP praises them because they’ve already embraced communism. The real goal of the Climate Hoax.

  30. Just like in 1919 when journalist Lincoln Steffans accompanied a Woodrow Wilson delegation to Lenin’s Russia. When asked what it was like he said “I have been over into the future-and it works.” (A quote from Modern Times by Paul Johnson ).
    Stupid Liberals.

  31. You’re surprised that they sing the praises of Chinese coal? You haven’t noticed that these people are simply anti-American and anti-capitalism?

  32. “We found that the nation’s coal sector is undergoing a massive transformation that extends from the mines to the power plants, from Ordos to Shanghai.”
    I don’t know if the above statement is deliberately misleading or accidently ignorant. But even taking in a broad sense, from Ordos to Shanghai does not seem to encompass the nation.

  33. Progressives are far more about the end goal of their activism than whatever they may say about the immediate issue. So of course they give China (and India and Africa) a pass. Their end goal can be deduced when you see how clearly their demands converge on socialism (bigger government, less liberty, fewer choices, higher costs, more restrictions, less human prosperity, slower economic growth) far more than they converge on materially improving the environment.

  34. Well, Progressive Greenies are as much anti-American as they are anything else. That’s why the narrative invariably villainizes the US, no matter what apologistic gyrations of logic they have to use to get there.

  35. How do we know that the bulk of the pollution is coming from coal-fired electric power plants rather from domestic heating and cooking stoves?
    It had been said that perhaps rural electrification, even if it is coal-fired, would go a long way to cleaning the air?

    • A lot (at least in parts of China) of the pollution comes from steam heat. With population density they can pipe in heat. What I saw was that they were very thrifty with electricity. Did not have clothes dryers, poor lighting at night (an open gas station there darker than most closed ones here). But steam heat- it was plenty warm though 5 degrees outside, and would regulate in places by opening the window.

  36. Oh gosh, I find myself agreeing with Eric. I looked and looked for a reason not to.
    While it is admirable that China has shifted from slave labor coal to adopting modern mining practices for worker safety, doing it 100 years after those practices were adopted in the US is not leadership.
    Starting to clean up the environment 70 years after we started, is not leadership.
    When comes to leadership in energy and the environment, we did not see any from Clinton/Gore. It was Bush who pushed revision of coal power plant regulations. The measure of regulations is how clean our air is in the US. Air quality is good.

  37. Well yes, of course its okay when China does it. They’re already communist. No need for change in that utopia!!!
    The U.S. and western Europe, on the other hand, need to clean up their act. Capitalism makes people free to consume vast amounts of energy and resources and creates a middle class. What could be worse?
    /sarc off

  38. They are right about plant efficiencies. The average US coal plant was built in 1962. The oldest date from the 40’s.
    If the entire US coal fleet was converted to the newest ultra-supercritical designs, there would be an immediate 40% reduction in coal consumption and pollution of all types. The largest step reduction in pollution in history.
    And it’s prevented by US regulation that locks in old plant technology by making upgrades prohibitively expensive. Insanity.

      • Well when you have 100 MW input with .35 efficiency, you get 35 MW net.
        If you have 60 MW input with .60 efficiency, you get the same.
        So I guess you get 40% reduction and the same power.
        (The numbers were yours. I know nothing about this.)

      • What you are talking about is the difference between gross and net. Internal auxiliary loads reduce how much gets to the grid. For a coal plant with major AQCS, aux might be around 15-20%. For a NG Rankine plant, maybe 2-5%. No pulverisers or big fans. That is not efficiency.
        The industry jargon is heat rate: Btu/kWh. It’s an archaic form of expressing inverse efficiency. A typical value would be 9,000 Btu/kWh. You put in 9,000 Btu/h of fuel to generate/get out each 1 MW. Equivalent efficiency is 3,412 / 9,000 = 37.9%. So 37.9% of the fuel energy input gets converted to electricity.
        NG produces less CO2/MWh because it gets a lot more Btu from hydrogen. Carbon is 14,000 Btu/lb, H2 is 60,000 Btu/lb. CH4 is 25% hydrogen, coals run 5% to 10% hydrogen.
        The CPP plan CO2 performance goals were written to specifically cripple coal generation and give NG a free pass especially CCPP, basically making it impossible for coal to meet without extremely expensive sequestration and NG to just proceed as usual.

  39. “Beijing has been steadily shutting down the nation’s older, low-efficiency, and high-emissions plants to replace them with new, lower-emitting coal plants that are more efficient that anything operating in the United States.”
    The US is doing the same, replacing old coal generation with NG fueled CCPP which are 60% efficient instead of 35%.
    The difference in efficiency between sub-critical, supercritical, and ultra supercritical coal fired designs is due to expanding the thermodynamic boundaries of steam pressure and temperature. The efficiency improvements are on the order of 10 to 15 percentage points. Whoopeee!!
    As to more efficient than anything operating in the US – patently untrue. J.W. Turk and Comanche 3 come to mind.
    When will journalists start doing actual fact-based research for their fake news articles? Or is there not enough money in that?

    • Probably never, because doing actual research is hard work. But these aren’t even real (ha!) journalists: they started with a policy directive to push the US to renewable energy and then looked for something resembling facts to justify it. As I noted earlier, their “comparison” was between the entire US fleet of coal plants and a selected set of the newer, larger Chinese ones.

  40. I didn’t read the whole article but was struck by the disparity between the two stats given early. In the top 100 plants, China outputs about 92 % as much CO2 as the U.S. per GW output. I don’t see how that is hugely better than the performance of the older generating systems used in the U.S. But if their coal burning efficiency is 76% as efficient as ours due to the more advanced plants being installed, why aren’t their CO2 emissions similarly lower at about 76%. What am I missing?
    Ah so I did a bit of digging, and the answer to my question may come down to the kind of coal that is being burned. The U.S. burns mostly bitumous coal and sub-bituminous coal. These types of coal output less CO2 than other types because they have more BTU output per ton due to a greater hydrogen content. China’s coal reserves are primarily anthracite and lignite which have less hydrogen and less heat output per ton and hence more CO2 output per ton burned. The authors go to the trouble to discuss the types of generators, but make no mention of the importance of coal type on CO2 emissions. Hmmmmm….
    BTW, I loved this bit of spin, “The United States only has one ultra-supercritical power plant. Everything else is subcritical or, at best, supercritical.” The order of the categories would leave a reader thinking that most of the U.S. generators are subcritical. But their infographic shows that U.S. stations are 69% supercritical and 30% subcritical. Why not just say the simple truth? More than two-thirds of U.S. stations are supercritical and all but one of the remaining are subcritical.

    • For a typical Rankine (steam) design power plant about 15% +/- of the fuel energy goes up the stack, about 35% +/- gets turned into electricity, about 50% +/- is in the condensing of the exhaust steam, that heat showing up in the vapor plumes from the cooling towers or in the cooling lake or river. This is the same whether sub, super or ultra.
      Ultra super didn’t become popular until the metallurgy advanced enough for the boiler tubing to survive the higher temperature, 1,150 F +. The real efficiency difference is from the steam temperature. Most existing sub/super unit steam temps were about 1,000 F to 1,050 F because that was what the alloys could handle. Raising the temperature and pressure expands the thermodynamic Carnot cycle boundaries which means that while the equipment efficiency doesn’t change, it draws on a greater potential and as a result generates more electricity for the same fuel input. High temperature and pressures are hard on the boilers and turbines and nobody knows yet how reliable these USCs will be.
      The coal doesn’t make a lot of difference. Anthracite is rare and usually applied for metallurgical purposes. Bituminous and sub-bituminous coals are used the most because they are the most common. Lignite is combustible dirt and a serious pain to mine, handle and burn.

      • The coal doesn’t make a lot of difference to what? I’m trying to reconcile how it is that China can burn about 75% of the amount of coal that we burn in the U.S. per MW, but still produce 92% of the CO2. The type of coal seems like a reasonable explanation, but I’m open to other explanations.
        Wikipedia lists shows China having pretty large Anthracite and Lignite reserves – perhaps that is a simple error in their article. They didn’t mention anything about Bituminous reserves, so I probably jumped the gun assuming that they would be burning what they had a lot of. But further reading shows that China is burning mostly bituminous. Which brings me back to the original question of why the disparity in amount of coal used and and the amount of CO2 generated?

  41. It is worth pointing out, for the record, that the photo at the top is not a picture of coal smoke.
    “Smog hangs over a construction site in Weifang city, Shandong province”
    It is a photo of the smoke from the annual (illegal) burning of crop residues that lie in fields after cropping. This burning commences about 15 October each year – as soon as it is dry following the harvest is complete. The fires are lit at night to hide who did it. If there was a value placed on the biomass (for pellets) people would collect it instead.
    Heating of homes starts about 15 November each year in that area. Thus it is not the ignition of a million domestic stoves, it is not from industry. Look at the colour. That is biomass smoke from smouldering crop residues.
    It is the same material that India burns 550m tons of each year creating the famous ‘Brown Cloud of India’. The same burning happens (also illegally) in Hebei Province which surrounds Beijing, usually on the same days. It lasts for about 4 days, during which time organisations like the BBC and Reuters take lots of photos of the ‘terrible air quality’ of Chinese cities for use throughout the year.
    At least with the example above, dates are clearly marked so people in the know understand they are looking at smoke from biomass smouldering in fields, not coal fire pollution from incomplete combustion.

    • That is good info to know. I’ll try to remember to look for photo dates.
      BTW, don’t be too quick to rely upon colors in a photo. Even an un-modified photo can give the wrong colors for a variety of reasons. Just google “coal plants” and under Images you will find all kinds of interesting colors for steam. :^)

      • Fair enough. How about: The thick visible haze you see in Beijing, irrespective of apparent color, is almost always dust from the Gobi desert.

  42. I’m sure coal plants near Beijing emit a lot of pollution. But the yellow haze you see in dramatic photos is largely dust blown in from the Gobi desert. These photos are akin to using images of scary-looking cooling tower steam plumes to represent clouds of industrial “pollution”.

  43. I thought Paris allowed China to double its CO2 output till 2030, then had to cut back? Is this saying they have already doubled their co2 levels to 2030 levels, 13 years ahead of time? Lol

  44. The Center for American Regress is the same organization indicted in the WikiLeaks release who bragged about getting Nate Silver’s 538 website to drop Roger Pielke, Jr.. In fact, they wrote 161 articles about Pielke which was almost as many as they had written about George Bush.
    Copy of e-mail written by John Legum of the Center.

  45. They went nearly 200 meters down a coal mine! Good heavens, what intrepid journos they are. I’m sure they will be talking about their hands-on-real-life investigative experience for many years to come, as if traveling nearly 200 meters down a coal mine were a substitute for real investigation. How nice of them to come back and report the rosy news to the rest of the world about how ‘green’ Chinese coal will be … some day.

  46. To Nicholas:Do you know what happened to Peabody Inc. in the USA. i seem to recall that they were into super critical coal,or did the Obana admin.shut him down.

  47. They went nearly 200 meters down a coal mine! Good heavens, what intrepid journos they are. I’m sure they will be talking about their hands-on-real-life investigative experience for many years to come, as if traveling nearly 200 meters down a coal mine were a substitute for real investigation. How nice of them to come back and report the rosy news to the rest of the world about how ‘green’ Chinese coal will be … some day.

  48. This is not surprising at all when you consider the main goal of green groups is to impose their vision of a socialist centrally-controlled command economy on the world, not actually ‘save the world from global warming, er, climate change’.

    • No one said it was the CO2 that was causing it. It is that Old Clean Cole that China is bragging about

      The coal consumption per kilometer in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region is 30 times the world’s average, which is the primary driving factor of PM2.5 and haze,” said Xiangwan Du, deputy director of China’s National Advisory Committee for Energy Policy. In 2015, the region consumed 400 million metric tons of coal, according to a book published last year by the China Energy Research Society

      Good thing it’s not Dirty Coal

      • The article above at one point says “… [China] is on track to overdeliver on the emissions reduction commitments it put forward under the Paris climate agreement, and making coal cleaner is an integral part of the process …” then further on “… Chinese citizens are demanding cleaner air, and they want immediate improvements …”.
        The problem here is equivocation viz. ‘the use of ambiguous language to conceal the truth’ (Oxford).
        Now Melanie Luke and Blaine may be as thick as two short planks but generally the tactic is used by rent seekers deliberately to confuse the public.

  49. Besides which, it’s well known that the Chinese turn their scrubbers off when no one’s looking in order to save a few quid. There’s not much wrong with burning coal, as long you filter out the nasties.

  50. and went nearly 200 meters down one of China’s largest coal mines to interview engineers, plant managers, and local government officials working at the front lines of coal in China.
    Why did they have to go so far underground just to conduct an interview?

  51. If China had a market-driven energy economy then they would have plenty of domestically produced natural gas.

  52. Coal combustion with treated flue gas has been well understood since the war. CO2 helps the plants grow.Why can’t the greenies grasp these concepts?? If we needed the smoke instead of the CO2 ,we would really have a problem!!!!

  53. Because the use of fossil fuels might have some effect on our climate, everyone on earth must immediately stop making use of any goods or services that involve the use of fossil fuels in any way. That goes for everyone including those the live in China. For example, the manufacture and transport of your computer involved the use of fossil fuels. Trun it off now and leave it off and never make use of it again.

    • no one has suggested an immediate shut down…
      Rather a phased transition to renewables, with an emphasis on shutting down the highest CO2 producing fossil fuel, coal.
      Look at the EU target: 80% renewable electricity by 2050. Hardly overnight.

      • As always, Griff actually believes that the politicians are telling him the truth.
        As everyone knows, 5 year plans always work. Plans for 30 years off will likewise always come true.

      • And we can all see first hand what high percentages of renewable generation does for grid stability instability simply by watching events in South Australia

      • There are many good reasons to be conserving on the use of fossil fuels but climate change is not one of them. There is no real evidence that CO2 has any effect on climate and plenty of scientific rational to support the idea that the climate sensivity of CO2 is zero. Mankind does have to eventually switch to alternate forms of energy before the fossil fuel runs but that may not be for hundreds of years. Rather then deploying expensive and inefficient technology more research is reequired before some of these alternate sources of energy are economical enough to deploy.

  54. The Chinese do install all the latest Air Pollution Devices on their new power plants. However all of them are installed with poor grade equipment and a bypass around the system. The systems are started up photos taken to show they are operating and then are bypassed making the equipment useless with no air pollution removed. How do I know this, I have helped build power plants in China and other countries.
    However they are doing nothing on CO2 emissions. The plants are still belching the dreaded CO2 that is feared by those on the manmade climate change band wagon.

    • How do I know this
      even our tour guide in china admitted this was true. the scrubbers are turned on for official visits, then turned off to save coal once the officials leave. the far east believes in Buddha, the mid east believes in Mohammed, the west believes in Christ, but the chinese believe in money.

      • “but the chinese believe in money.”
        And taking pictures of their food with cell phones.

  55. Air quality is now a political priority for the Chinese Communist Party

    Yep, Chinese Communist Party. Nuff said.
    During 1929 the Soviet Communist Party made grain procurement a top political priority. By 1932 an inconvenient famine followed, claiming more than 6.5 million lives. That’s what political priorities are about in a communist system.

  56. 2014 – ROC study finds china needs 500 new coal plants
    2015 – china announces plans to build 1000 new coal plants
    2016 – china cuts plans from 1000 to 500 new coal plans
    2017 – press finds china has cut pollution in half.

  57. “They still do that?
    Banned in the UK for decades…”
    Apparently many at WUWT love to comment on things they are not familiar with, oh the outrage and drama. It is so awful.
    Lack of familiarity with nuke plants, coal plants, agricultural burning, and even wind farms is because they are in rural areas. Many live in dirty cesspools called cities and again apparently judge how bad the environment is based on limited knowledge. Unfortunately, it is large cities that elect politicians.
    I can not think of more different places than the corner of China where I worked, the UK, and Eastern Washington State. The dry land wheat fields are in very sparsely populated areas. Because of the semi-arid climate, crop residues will not decay.
    As others have mentioned, due to the short duration, it is not really a problem.
    We also have a nuke plant, coal plant, and several wind farms to provide electricity to the city cesspools. There are also two mega landfills where garbage is barged from ‘green’ cities.
    We have clean air, no crime, good schools, low taxes, great sailing, and few liberals.
    Here is a link for ag burning:

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