Climate change just never is going to happen, is it?

At least not on the scale people are shrieking about:

China’s coal consumption has been falling for two years and may never recover as the moment of “peak coal” draws closer, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has said.
The energy watchdog has slashed its 2020 forecast for global coal demand by 500m tonnes, warning that the industry risks unstoppable decline as renewable technologies and tougher climate laws shatter previous assumptions.

Back in the 1990s Bjorn Lomborg said that climate change wasn’t going to be all that much of a problem. If we just straight line forecast the increasing cost efficiency of solar we will see that people will quite naturally start shifting to that in the early 2020s. My how he was shouted at for having said that.

“The golden age of coal seems to be over,” said the IEA’s medium-term market report. “Given the dramatic fall in the cost of solar and wind generation and the stronger climate policies that are anticipated, the question is whether coal prices will ever recover.”
“The coal industry is facing huge pressures, and the main reason is China,” said Fatih Birol, the agency’s director.
The IEA reported that China’s coal demand fell by 2.9pc in 2014 and the slide has accelerated this year as the steel and cement bubble bursts. The country produced more cement between 2011 and 2013 than the US in the entire 20th century, according to one study. This will never happen again.

And here we are in the last lap before those early 2020s and solar has been plummeting in price. And we don’t think coal consumption is going to be anything like what it could have been without that now cheaper solar.

As Matt Ridley likes to point out this makes A1FI, and RCP 8.5, the two models which just about every alarmist refers to as “business as usual” not just not a BAU but one of the futures that we know simply will not happen.

The possible damages in the future are therefore wrong. And we know they’re wrong.

The truth being that a lot of what we needed to do to “beat” climate change has already been done. We’ve gone and invented a non-fossil fuel manner of getting our electricity in a soon to be economic manner. That’s pretty much all we did ever need to do, we’ve done it, we’re done.

Sure, there’s deployment still to come but that can be left to markets unadorned. Why would people build the more expensive method of power generation?

20 thoughts on “Climate change just never is going to happen, is it?”

  1. >Why would people build the more expensive method of power generation?

    Because it works on still winter’s nights?

  2. Even as a non-climate-alarmist, I’m very happy that coal use is (or will be) falling. There is just so much nasty crap released by burning the stuff like Mercury, Uranium and Thorium.

    If coal becomes too expensive to burn (without green subsidies of course!) then that’s fine by me.

  3. Solar’s plummeting cost, notice that they still using the levelized costings scam, you know, add carbon tax to fossil fuel, add subsidy to solar and pretend that the real price is cheaper than it really is.

    The end user who still pay the fullcost one way or another, Carbon Tax+Eco Subsidy+pretend solar cost.

  4. Bloke in North Dorset

    I wonder how much of it is being driven by China becoming wealthier and people not wanting to live in stinking polluted cities and countryside?

    We didn’t introduce the clean air act because of climate change fears.

  5. So Much For Subtlety

    China has been signing big Gas deals with the Russians. Bad deals for Russia with Russia accepting a basically Third World status – the Chinese are providing all the money, most of the pipes and even direct investment in some gas fields.

    The best thing that could happen to the world’s environment would be a Chinese shift from coal to gas.

  6. Are we sure China’s coal consumption is falling? Or is it the rate of increase that’s falling?

    I only ask because I keep reading how many coal generating plants they open every month.

    Someone’s telling porkies spinning the figures here.

  7. @Kevin… Could it be that “political speak” v “reality” has confused the issue – ie in the former a “cut” is actually a “reduced increase”, etc..

  8. Photoelectric may be a great solution for (e.g.) the southern US, where lower latitudes imply greater insolation, blue skies are the norm and (crucially) peak solar coincides with peak demand (for aircon). In northern Europe, not so much.

  9. China has been signing big Gas deals with the Russians.

    Not really. Every six months of so Putin and his cronies announce some grand deal between Russia and China as being done, only with a detail of two to work out. Those details being 1) the price of the gas and 2) the route of the pipelines. They’ve been bickering about these two minor details since.

  10. ‘Why would people build the more expensive method of power generation?’

    So they can fix coffee in the morning.

    Solar can only be a supplemental source; its intermittency is an incurable defect.

  11. Sun -> 150m km -> Earth -> Bio -> (Time) -> Fuels -> Energy

    What we are doing is replacing the Biosphere and Time bit, I doubt science could ever do this as efficiently as nature has already, after all, biology has had a long time to evolve to make a super efficient method of converting sunlight into energy.

    Sun -> 150m km -> Earth -> Solar Panel -> Energy
    Sun -> 150m km -> Earth -> Wind/Wave -> Turbine -> Energy

    These just simply are not going to be as efficient are they?

    Think different, eliminate that pesky first part, which distributes sunlight over a wide area.

    Sun on Earth -> Energy

    That first bit is nuclear, first fission then fusion.

    Don’t bother going anywhere else, we are halfway there already.

  12. Even if solar panels were free…

    …they don’t work for 50% of the time in the summer and much less than that in the winter.

    Plus, you’d have to cover vast areas of otherwise usable land just to match the output of a single coal-fired power station which can produce electricity 24/7.

    To match the output of Didcot A for instance (gets fag packet) you’d need a staggering 20sq/Km of panels (assuming 100W per sq/m)!

    It ain’t ever gonna happen….

  13. The world has a staggering amount of coal. We could barely burn it all if we tried. So coal power will continue to be used quite a lot, because it is cheap.

    Future technologies are always being touted as taking over. Yet they never quite do. At best they complement.

    What do I heat my house with? By burning wood. Ten millennia old technology, but it is still the cheapest!

  14. So Much For Subtlety

    Tim Newman – “Not really. Every six months of so Putin and his cronies announce some grand deal between Russia and China as being done, only with a detail of two to work out.”

    In May of last year Putin is said to have signed an actual deal. The details of which are secret. Apparently he got screwed on price, but he needed to sign because of the sanctions following Ukraine.

    Whether or not it amounts to much is another thing. But it does look like they did a deal this time. The Russians have so many plans and only so much cash. They can’t do them all.

  15. Pingback: Climate change, whatevs. We can all relax. | The Knife and me

  16. In May of last year Putin is said to have signed an actual deal.

    Yes, he did. And Russians had a collective orgasm in their pants. Turns out he was lying and they’d not agreed the price. Streetwise Professor has been all over this.

  17. Solar has not plummeted in price, it always was and always will be zero.

    The problem is it, like wind, only provides energy intermittently, unreliably, cannot keep tension on he grid, provide base load, or provide energy on demand.

    When will people get this through their thick skulls?

    If motor cars cost £1 each what good is it if they only work occasionally, not necessarily when you want them to, frequently come to a halt mid journey?

  18. “If motor cars cost £1”

    Whoah…

    The capital cost of this is still expensive.

    We’re talking about the fuel… Ie, it’s the equivalent car “fuel” that costs nothing but the car might then simply stop mid journey. You still had to pay a significant capital cost up front for the luxury of having that oh so unreliable bit of kit.

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