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  1. It’s more fair and has a better potential for beneficial outcomes than trying to fight propaganda battles with heavily armed opponents who can buy ink by the bucket and air time by the month.

    Hello Rod, that’s the issue I had after watching Pandora’s Promise. They didn’t spend a lot of time on coal but they did seem to demonize it IMO. If both industries constantly fight one another it will be a losing battle. Time for all energy producers to work together. Very good article BTW.

  2. “Coal” covers a lot of ground.  Metallurgical coal isn’t in competition with other fossil fuels, but there’s relatively little of it used in the USA these days; I understand that it’s generally anthracite.  The rest is “steam coal”, which ranges from high-grade bituminous to lignite that’s barely the other side of peat.

    The problem is that the immediate competition for steam coal is nuclear, and any other uses for it will require many $billions to implement.  Even converting coal into methane is difficult and costly; the SNG plant in the upper Midwest went bankrupt and only operates because the original investors were wiped out.  I would love to have a look at their balance sheet to see, in this era of rock-bottom NG prices, how much of their revenue comes from sale of CO2 to Canada for EOR operations.  Extracting much larger fractions of the petroleum in the ground is certainly not doing any good for climate change.

    The truth of the matter is that the models for a nuclear-heavy USA are France and Sweden; very little coal consumption, low gas consumption.  Neither industry would do well.  A nuclear model where vehicle fleets are largely plug-ins of one sort or another would take a huge chunk out of petroleum consumption as well.  Everyone can see that writing on the wall.

  3. The New York Times has a relevant editorial today, Friday Dec 08. The editorialists make a claim regarding grid reliability which needs to be taken into account or else refuted.

    Briefly, they see no role for coal in powering the grids in the USA.

    1. “The Trump Administration’s Coal Bailout”

      Reliable links to TNYT are difficult for me to arrange.

      1. In the absence of some large group stepping up and doing it (and what we see is those claiming to do it, specifically Denmark and Germany, demonstrably doing it all wrong and failing to achieve the results they claim to want) the answer is “nobody”.

        Given that likelihood, some are going to pursue the outcome by force of one kind or another.  Open warfare is unlikely and is itself carbon-intensive.  It’s going to feed the ranks of people pursuing far more radical means such as bio-engineered plagues to remove the bulk of the emitters.  Captain Trips, here we come.

  4. If one wants a over all outline of how a National Energy Master Plan would appear [including coal] it should be like this , IMHO : first and foremost nuclear fission using pebble bed SMR’s and molten salt reactors based on thorium need to put into routine operation. No real progress can be made until these highly safe reactors are developed and deployed.
    Concurrently a large scale effort between the U.S. , Canada and Mexico on a power and water project called the North American Water and Power Alliance would generate about 180,000 Mwe plus irrigation of large areas now too dry to farm.Nuclear power would play a important role in eliminating the need to trans mit power of the hydroelectric facilities back over mountain ranges to the lift pumps. A possibility of using ultra cold superconducting power lines presents it’self here.
    Coal development would center around using MHD conversion which would cut greatly both fuel consumption and pollutants and nuclear heat for converting coal into synthetic fuels.Lastly a major effort on fusion needs to be started , partly underway now with the ITER project but in need of expansion , a recent NASA conference this past September examined a fusion concept which although designed for space applications might be used for power generation on Earth , fusion idea’s are abundant but untried.

    1. The North American Water and Power Alliance would be hard to sell, especially in Canada. It has on a grand scale the main disadvantage of hydroelectric power of flooding large areas. In Canada it was to a large extent seen as flooding large parts of Canada for the benefit of only the US.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_Water_and_Power_Alliance

      I would rather see nuclear power used for desalination near the areas the water would be used. There are some recent advances that have cut the cost of doing that.

      https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/israel-proves-the-desalination-era-is-here/

      See also http://vortexengine.ca/index.shtml
      If that works it would be a nice bottoming cycle for a nuke plant & if the nuke & vortex engine combination is placed on a desert coastline would drop rain on the surrounding area.

    2. ” first and foremost nuclear fission using pebble bed SMR’s and molten salt reactors based on thorium need to put into routine operation.”

      +1 agree!

      All this talk and pilot plants cannot even be constructed. Here’s a Chinese quote I heard from Ralph Nader, the antinuke that applies, ” “To know and not to do is not to know.” We’ll never know how great some of these new designs will be until they are built.

      1. @Eino

        Pebble bed reactors are under construction in China. The first pair should be operating commercially before the end of 2018.

        I don’t spect the Chinese to provide too much information about how well they operate. They aren’t making plans to export the technology. Instead they will use it to repower their own grid first.

  5. In my mind, nuclear power is not primarily a solution to climate change, but a way to defend a high energy lifestyle in the face of “climate guilt” being pushed on us from all sides. Energy consumption as such has been demonized in the name of fighting climate change. We’re told to turn down our air conditioning/heating, and to drive less (even by Oil companies such as Chevron corporation). In California, this crazyness has reached new levels, with single family homes being discouraged (via zoning) and dense multilevel apartment blocks the new politically correct way to live. Why? because of climate change, and the need for energy to heat/cool a large home, and the fact this energy causes carbon emissions, and those carbon emissions are causing climate change…. This madness has to stop one way or another, and the biggest tool in the drawer is nuclear power, which has many other advantages. It smashes the “other side”‘s lifestyle destroying arguments. The fact that nuclear power is STILL by many supposed climate fighters, goes to show their agenda was never to fight climate change, but to cut down our lifestyle with climate change the convenient excuse.

    1. ‘ This madness has to stop one way or another..’ Well, a fair sized chunk of California is on fire, so extending that to the rest of the state would be one way. We’re having near-record spring heat in New Zealand too. Europeans get by with half the energy use of USAnians, and so did the latter, back in the fifties, when they used to walk a bit more, and didn’t have obesity and diabetes rates nearly as high as now.

    2. In Minnesota they’re putting up solar panels and wind turbines. I’m not against alternatives but when they use tax payer money to do so that’s where I draw the line “crony capitalism”. I always say if the sun is not shining and the wind isn’t blowing you got nothing. Nothing for storage in the way of wind or solar. I’m not against coal, oil, natural gas ect. Notice how the narrative is changed when the weather changes. First it was global cooling in the 70’s then it was global warming and when that didn’t work it’s now “climate” change. So now they can say anything and people will eat it up with really no scientific proof. One just needs to do a little research pre-industrial revolution to see reality of real climate change. They were farming in Siberia not long ago, that’s written in history. I’ll put it this way we’re not going to save the planet if we can’t even save ourselves. I’m very pro nuclear energy, and IMO the industry is over regulated. But I think one day we will wake up and see we will power the world as a very cheap and safe alternative to hydrocarbons.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7W33HRc1A6c