Good news for climate from US energy production despite Trump

Torstai 14.5.2020 klo 11:38 - Mikko Nikinmaa

When President Trump came to power, he vowed to make coal-based energy production stronger than previously. In general, he has supported the use of fossil fuels in energy production and withdrew USA from the Paris Climate Accord. Despite this, very good news are coming from the energy production sector in USA for the last months.

As a background for this the following must be stated. The federal government does not give any subsidies for energy production using renewable sources. Thus, energy companies buy needed energy from producers, who can deliver power most economically.

With this in mind, it is significant that in 2020 energy obtained using renewable sources (windmills, solar power, hydroelectric power) has exceeded coal-based energy production for 90 days already, as reported in a New York Times article today. This is all the more remarkable, as in 2019 the renewable energy production exceeded energy production using coal only in 38 days.

From this one can conclude that the coal era is rapidly coming to end, as energy is more expensive to produce using coal than using renewable resources.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, renewable energy, coal, fossil fuels

The man living in the past strikes again

Tiistai 10.10.2017 klo 16:57

When one was a child, the summers were warm and it seldom rained. When summer holidays started in the beginning of June one could always wear shorts and go barefoot. Ah, those golden memories - one should not look at weather statistics: in 1961-1970 which was this sunny and warm period in my memories, the mean temperature in June wes lower than today here in Scandinavia, where we now complain about the cold and rainy Junes. What about rain then? The Junes 50 years ago were at least as rainy as today.

Golden memories of 1960s, it is what Trump wants back. At that time coal-powered America was something we Europeans looked enviously up to. The greatest status symbol of that time in Europe was Cadillac. Even if Beatles and Rolling Stones were something, Californian beaches and Surfing Safari were the greatest. And at that time coal never caused any air pollution - or at least not in the golden memories. So it is those American Graffiti times Trump wants back. 

However, if one looks at different measurements, the air quality is now much better in New York and Los Angeles in 1960's. If one wants to see something that is as bad as big US and European cities at that time, one only needs to look at Chinese cities today. Chinese leaders have recognized the problem and are making massive strides to improve the situation. One of the reasons for fighting air pollution is the fact that millions of Chinese have some pollution-related maladies every year. But that doesn't bother US president and his close allies like the EPA director. It is clean coal, as Trump remembers in his golden memories.

It doen't matter that the only way industry and energy companies will use more coal is by decreasing its price by heavy federal subsidies. While the republican party in the US says that it is against subsidies, fossil fuels have been and are getting massive federal support all the time - without it they wouldn't be able to compete as a source of energy production. I do agree that people and areas, who/which depended very much on coal should not remain poor, but their development cannot depend on coal, but something new has to be planned. It is possible: look at Pittsburg which was a degenerating steel industry town, but has risen to an important player in new technologies.

So the man living in the past is fighting like Don Quijote against windmills. The only problem is that with Trump's support things that should change today, change maybe five years from now. The critical question is: can we wait?

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: coal, fossi fuels, climate change