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Thread: Coal Shortages Speed Up China's Clean Power Plans

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    Default Coal Shortages Speed Up China's Clean Power Plans

    Coal Shortages Speed Up China's Clean Power Plans

    By Susan Kraemer

    Wed Aug 31, 2011 8:44am EDT

    The Chinese government continues to expand its clean energy production plans, to replace increasingly expensive coal power that is shutting down coal plants and causing power shortages of at least 16 GW. China's twelth five-year plan unveiled this week plans for 70 GW for wind, and 5 GW of solar by 2015.

    Unlike Europe, which is using Feed-in Tariffs to incentivize the addition of more green power to the nation's grid, China is using competitive bidding to drive down the costs of the new renewable energy generation. This might be a mistake: FITs are a safer bet in the long run for newer more untried energy sources, as generators are paid only for actual production.

    China's first CSP tender generated an average solar power price of CNY0.96 (US$15) per kWh. The price being offered for CSP solar is about double the price of its conventional coal power. Wind is also more expensive, but now increasingly competitive.

    A new development, peak coal, has shaken up the plan. Coal prices have risen 75% since 2007, while electricity prices have only been allowed to rise 15%. Shortages of Chinese coal as local mines are depleted are driving up prices for imports (US Coal Companies Reap Windfall From Australian Climate Catastrophe) and China's coal power plants are now under real financial stress.

    "Many coal plants have shut down their generators because the more they produce, the bigger the losses they will suffer," Li Chaolin, a coal and energy industry analyst at Anbound Group told the Global Times.

    As a result, as much as 30 GW of power shortages are forcast as struggling coal power plants in China are unable to stay in business. China intends to build at least 75 GW of new clean energy to help supply new energy demands as its economy grows. But the dramatic loss of coal power was not factored in several years ago.

    It is a very difficult situation for China, with the payments for renewable generation starting out higher than those for the (now too expensive) coal. But although the prices it offers for new clean power generation will be higher initially, over the long haul China's energy costs will become cheaper since wind and solar are fuel-free. So the policy makes sense.

    But for China, given the coal shortages driving blackouts, the decision is now sink or swim.
    Reality is an invention of my imagination.

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    The economies that bite the bullet and shift to renewables will be the big winners,not just environmentally but financially.
    China and Germany seem to be heading in the right direction
    It will interesting to see which direction Japan goes after its nuclear disaster.
    Hopefully a Carbon Tax will send Australia in the right direction.
    Major concern is the delusion that Coal Seam Gas will fill the gap that will be left by Peak Oil in the coming years as demand exceeds supply and there is a massive price hike.
    It just stops us from doing what we have to do for the long term sustainability and that is invest in renewables now.

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    A coal Miner here in the Western Coalfields of NSW has just announced its 'Closure' due it says because of certain restrictions preventing it from using 'Long Wall' extraction techniques although reports say other methords can be used to mine a substantialy large reserve still there so I wonder as they ship to either or both China and Japan if this has a bearing on the 'closure'.
    The company has seeming commented they are not interested in selling the mine or leasing it to another but just plan to 'mothball' for an indeterminate time.
    These decisions are not made overnight but months back which coupled with this report makes you curious what is going on.

    When and if they can get so called 'Renewable Energy' sources capable of producing sufficient energy 24/7 like either Nuclear, Coal or Gas to the supply the nation, then I will start supporting the closure of coal fired 24 hour Solar and Wind.
    Due to our lack of suitable water and storage, Hydro can only ever be a supplementary addition to the whole.
    I stand unequivicably behind everything I say , I just dont ever remember saying it !!

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    Quote Originally Posted by gordon_s1942 View Post
    The company has seeming commented they are not interested in selling the mine or leasing it to another but just plan to 'mothball' for an indeterminate time.
    Makes you wonder how they are able to do this since a mining licence is a licence to extract coal not sit on it.

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    windmills,, I don't think so...

    BEIJING - Wind turbine manufacturers are feeling the industry performance pinch for the first time after five years of good times in China, the world's fastest-growing wind power market, said industry experts.

    Following recent incidents where a total of 1,346 wind turbines were disconnected from the power grid on April 17 in Gansu and Hebei provinces, China is planning to issue stringent national standards for wind turbine manufacturers.

    The incidents, which caused energy wastage, reduced electricity output to millions of customers.

    The national standards, being drawn up by the government, are expected to set the tone in the industry, requiring that all installed wind turbines are equipped with low-voltage ride-through (LVRT) capability to ensure stability to the power grid.

    LVRT refers to the capability of wind turbines to maintain continuous operation during and after precipitous voltage dips, allowing the power grid to be adjusted more quickly and improve the overall safety and stability of the grid.

    "This will put considerable pressure on wind turbine makers and wind farm operators to upgrade China's 34,000 wind turbines," said Li Yinghua, deputy director of the security regulatory bureau under the State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC).

    Compulsory national standards for wind-generated electricity are needed to regulate grid compliance and build a strong smart grid in the country, industry experts said.

    At present, most of China's installed wind turbines do not have the LVRT capability and domestic manufacturers are upgrading their machines in the wake of the recent incidents in Gansu and Hebei provinces.

    The State Grid, China's largest power distributor, issued the current standards in practice for wind power operators in 2009, but these were not enforced nationally.

    It costs between 10,000 and 500,000 yuan to upgrade a single wind turbine by installing LVRT, depending on the turbine model, said experts from Denmark-based Vestas Wind Systems, a leading international wind turbine manufacturer.

    "Some turbine models merely need software upgrading, while others require much more than that," said Shi Haifeng, an expert with the Finland-based The Switch, a leading supplier of wind turbine components.

    Wind turbine manufacturers are capable of installing the LVRT technology but some wind farm operators do not want the function partly due to cost concerns, an expert from a European wind turbine manufacturer said.

    "LVRT capability is not the only reason for the system's failure," said Qin Haiyan, secretary-general of the China Wind Energy Association. "Even with the technology, such disruptions are still inevitable because the power grid is a system."

    Meanwhile, the current standards also suggest wind farm operators to install the Static Var Compensator, which costs at least hundreds of thousands yuan and can maintain steady voltage and stabilize the power system.

    According to the European company expert who declined to be named due to company policy, the wind farms in Gansu and Hebei, where the disconnection took place, did not have the Static Var Compensator, which could help to regulate voltage and regulate the power system.

    China increased its total wind power capacity to 41.8 gigawatts in 2010, up 62 percent from the previous year.

    However, for the first time since 2005, growth in wind power is slowing down, partly due to more controls from the government to prevent the industry from overheating. The industry had been experiencing triple-digit growth before 2009.

    China Daily

    As for closing coal fired power plants...

    THE coal industry has challenged Julia Gillard's assertion that Chinese coal-fired power plants are being closed to mitigate carbon emissions.

    Australian Coal Association executive director Ralph Hillman told The Australian Online the closure of stations in China was to alleviate health concerns, not to reduce carbon emissions.

    He said many of China's coal fired powered stations were much dirtier than those in Australia and emitted mercury through their smoke stacks.

    "They're shutting them down largely to address health concerns from their mercury emissions rather than their CO2 emissions," he told The Australian Online.

    Mr Hillman said China - the biggest user and producer of coal in the world - was building new coal-fired power stations at a rapid rate to meet its rising energy needs.

    He said the new plants were much more efficient than Australian coal-fired power plants.

    Mr Hillman pointed to figures from the International Energy Agency suggesting China's demand for coal would grow by 2.7 per cent a year to 2020 despite the implementation of effective climate change policies.

    "The IEA predicts continued strong growth in the already huge coal fired power generation sector in China and similarly for India."

    The share of coal in China's total energy demand was also forecast to decline from 66 per cent to 53 per cent by 2035.

    Over that projection period the IEA forecast that China would bring on-line around 600 gigawatts (GW) of new coal fired power generation capacity, comparable with "the current combined coal capacity of the United States, European Union and Japan".

    Ms Gillard used her appearance on Q&A to argue the rest of the world was moving on climate change and highlighted China as a key example.

    "There's this image that somehow we're the only ones. Simply not true. You know, China (is) closing down a dirty coal-fired power generation facility at the rate of one every one to two weeks."

    While Professor Ross Garnaut made the same claim in the second of his recent updates to his 2008 review, he qualified the finding by saying the dirty stations were being replaced by "larger, and economically and environmentally much more efficient plants".

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