Monday, 1 October 2012

Greenpeace UK endorsing a bigger role for coal?

John Sauven, Executive Director, Greenpeace UK, has found a way to save the world:

"What man-made, man can undo. 
First stop exploring for unconventional fossil fuels in Canada’s tar sands or underneath the Arctic. When in a hole, stop digging. Second, copy Germany."

Sauven most certainly must know what it means to copy Germany

A funny thing is happening on the way to the clean energy future.  While the US government wages a regulatory war on coal fired generation, in Europe, the land of the oh so politically correct the drive for greenhouse gas emissions reduction is meeting a new competitor—-reality!
The EU emissions trading scheme had fallen on hard times as the number of permits issued was large and demand in a falling economy was weak so prices fell.  Some reforms were made and the freebie credits were reined in but the economy was still weak.  While progress was still made in emissions reduction it was not the transformation some had hoped to achieve.
Then the Japan earthquake and tsunami sends Europe into a frenzy over the safety of nuclear power and Germany announced major closures of its nuclear fleet.  The Greens hoped killing off nuclear would give them a two-fer—less nuke and more renewables.
The German government policy is to encourage construction of 10 gigawatts of coal fired generation to displace aging nuclear plants and provide baseload backup for wind and solar power.  Worldwide coal plant construction grew 5.4% over the past year according to BP and now represents about 30% of installed capacity. The trade-off is to reduce the number of free emissions allowances to drive up the carbon credits markets.  To the Greens this is like paying penance for your sins.
But markets are a fickle mistress.  The lust for profits is a basic human business animal spirit.  So a story recently in Bloomberg BusinessWeek caught my eye. It said that European power producers planned to open six times more coal fired generating plants than gas-fired generators by 2015.  The story said profits at coal plants were expected to double repeating an analysis released September 13 by Goldman Sachs.
Read the entire article here

Greenpeace's support for the German model, is a clear endorsement for increasing the role of coal in global and European energy production. Will we soon see Greenpeace campaigning for a renaissance of the British coal industry? 

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