Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
January 3, 2023
The reality is that both energy security and dealing with global climate changes are important. But which one is more challenging depends on the individual. However, as a society or a nation, decisions have to be made by the majority or elected officials.
Energy security is a day-to-day issue that must be managed right now. While global climate change is a relatively distant crisis, it can be dealt with timely. Further, we have some options in safeguarding energy security with multiple energy sources along with different environmental ramifications. Each nation should decide on the best mix of energy sources for securing energy security right now but with a feasible plan to achieve carbon neutral. The optimum energy mix is key to affordable energy supply for supporting a reasonable lifestyle as well as reasonable economic development. Without economic development humans have no future.
People also have to adapt or face extinctions. Germany and UK faced the music and switch to coal and nuclear immediately after the war in Ukraine broke out. It is a good choice, but it is not going to make everyone happy. For example, allowing fracking may provide additional and more clean fossil energy or natural gas. On the other hand, environmental activists protest fossil and nuclear energy.
We must recognize and follow the following basic rules:
- Activists are welcome but extremists are not allowed.
- NIMBY is reasonable but it should stay in one’s backyard only and not breach into anyone other’s backyards.
- Respect other’s rights and choices.
Coal Demand To Remain Robust In 2023
Editor OilPrice.com Mon, January 2, 2023 at 2:00 PM PST
Despite bold climate pledges from a plethora of major world powers, it seems that many are unable to break their addiction to coal, as consumption is set to hit an all-time high (once again). Several countries have launched climate strategies that include the phasing out of coal production and use over the coming decades, however with gas shortages and a long road to getting enough renewable energy operations running to meet global demand, many continue to rely on coal for power and industry. While coal use is expected to decrease in the long term, to be replaced by natural gas and renewable alternatives, demand is set to remain strong in 2023.
This month, an International Energy Agency (IEA) report suggested that coal consumption is expected to hit an all-time high and remain stable between 2022 and 2025 unless the transition to cleaner alternatives speeds up. Coal consumption was forecast to increase by 1.2 percent in 2022, the highest level ever recorded. In its Coal 2022 report, the IEA highlighted the shortage and costliness of gas as a major reason for the ongoing reliance on coal in Europe. But without the wind or solar power capacity needed to meet demand, Europe has switched back to coal to meet its needs, with an expected rise of 2 percent in coal used for electricity production this year.
The IEA’s expectation for a plateau in coal demand for the next three years is based on an anticipated movement away from coal to cleaner energy options, as well as the expected increase in coal use in emerging economies in Asia. As several countries worldwide release ambitious climate pledges and invest heavily in renewable energy, while also attempting to decarbonize their economies, coal is expected to remain the largest single source of CO2 emissions by far, according to the IEA. Keisuke Sadamori, the IEA’s Director of Energy Markets and Security, stated: “The world is close to a peak in fossil fuel use, with coal set to be the first to decline, but we are not there yet.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February this year has altered predictions on energy use in Europe and other parts of the world as a major oil and gas supply suddenly went offline, with several countries imposing sanctions on Russian energy. Many European states that were hoping to make progress in their shift away from fossil fuels to renewable alternatives suddenly found themselves fighting for their energy security and turning to unlikely sources – like coal and nuclear power. The IEA’s report stated, “Coal markets have been shaken severely in 2022, with traditional trade flows disrupted, prices soaring and demand set to grow by 1.2%, reaching an all-time high and surpassing 8 billion metric tons for the first time.”
The U.K., which said it would no longer use coal to generate electricity starting in 2024, one year earlier than originally planned, approved a new coal mine this month in a surprise shift in its approach to the fossil fuel. The Woodhouse Colliery in the northwest of England will be the country’s first new coal mine in 30 years and will provide coal mainly for export to Europe. The U.K. government expects the plant to be in operation until 2049, a year before the country plans to achieve net-zero carbon emissions.
Meanwhile, Asia’s coal market is expected to continue expanding rapidly for several years to come. Coal demand also remains high in other parts of Asia, such as India and Indonesia. One Indonesia-based miner stated “Overall [coal] demand is expected to remain strong due to the robust economic outlook of countries like China, Indonesia, and India. The impact of war will gradually ease as countries are adapting to new trade flows… India and China may continue to buy Russian coal, while also expanding their domestic production.”
Protests near German village vacated to expand coal mine
Mon, January 2, 2023 at 8:01 AM PST
BERLIN (AP) — Scuffles broke out on Monday outside a village in western Germany that is to be razed to allow the expansion of a coal mine, a plan that is drawing resistance from climate activists.
Activists threw fireworks, bottles and stones at police outside the village of Luetzerath before the situation calmed down and officers pulled back, German news agency dpa reported.
Activists have been living in houses abandoned by former residents.
The Heinsberg county administration has issued an order barring people from Luetzerath and, if they fail to leave, authorizing police to clear the village from Jan. 10 onward. Officials have called for a non-violent end to the activists’ occupation.
In October, the federal and regional governments — both of which include the environmentalist Green party — and energy company RWE agreed to bring forward the exit from coal use in the region by eight years to 2030.
But, amid concerns about Germany’s energy security following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the agreement also foresees the life of two power plant units that were supposed to be switched off earlier being extended until at least 2024 and Luetzerath being razed to enable further mining.
German Finance Minister Calls For Reverse Of Fracking Ban
Mon, January 2, 2023 at 8:00 AM PST