Germany has installed enough photovoltaics that, at this point, coal-fired power plants are beginning to become unprofitable. This is driven by a combination of factors, e.g., that coal isn’t asked to provide power at the peak of the day, when both the sun and the price of electricity are at their zenith. Of course, most of us cheer when coal runs into trouble, but issues like this raise some fantastically interesting questions about the future of power generation – and transportation – as we migrate from fossil fuels into more sustainable modalities.
Let’s look at the U.S., where coal accounts for over 40% of our electricity, and solar and wind are under 5%. As much as we’d like to turn off all our coal this afternoon, it’s not even a remotely practical idea. So what exactly is the plan whereby we scale coal back over a period of decades while building out renewables, energy storage, smart-grid, etc? Well, there isn’t one – at least not a written one.
One could ask an analogous question about transportation: What is the plan for providing an ever-decreasing amount of gasoline and diesel as an ever-greater segment of our transportation is electrified? Again, it doesn’t exist – at least not publicly.
But to think that Big Energy is sitting around watching as its empire melts away is folly of the first order. This industry, led by the world’s most powerful people, is working 24 hours a day to maintain its monopolistic positions, as shown from the glimpses we get into the truth via an occasional breach of secrecy. Google “ExxonMobil Global Warming Denial Machine” and read some of the 444,000 articles on the subject, in which you’ll learn how:
‘ExxonMobil has manufactured uncertainty about the human causes of global warming just as tobacco companies denied their product caused lung cancer,” said Alden Meyer, the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Director of Strategy & Policy. “A modest but effective investment has allowed the oil giant to fuel doubt about global warming to delay government action just as Big Tobacco did for over 40 years.’
Or Google: “Oil Companies Proposition 23 Junk Science,” and take a peak at the 172,000 stories about the covert campaign to destroy California’s fight to clean up its skies.
As always, there’s good news and bad news. Here, the good news is that there actually IS a plan. The bad news is that it’s being written by the oil companies and by people like the multi-billionaire Koch brothers, hell-bent, as they are, on further enriching themselves at the expense of destroying the only planet we have.