Europe cutting back on green-energy “investments” while coal makes a comeback

posted at 7:31 pm on October 14, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Once upon a yesteryear, various European and Asian governments as well as the United States seemed so unequivocally convinced that all the expensive and taxpayer-funded “investments” they were making in new, market-resistant, and so-thought “green” technologies would help to them to ensure a cleaner and more “sustainable” future in which they were all less reliant on foreign fuels to fulfill their energy needs. The fruits of their many “investments,” unfortunately, have been found not merely environmentally wanting but financially unsustainable, to boot, as the economic consequences of higher electricity prices and crippling national debt burdens have reared their ugly heads. Completely unsurprisingly, the falloff in government “investment” (i.e., subsidization) has been mirrored by a falloff in private investment, via Bloomberg:

Clean-energy investment fell 14 percent in the third quarter from the prior three months as Europe curbed subsidies and cheaper U.S. natural gas lured investment.

The $45.9 billion spent makes it “almost certain” that annual investment in renewables and energy-smart technologies will fall for the second consecutive year from $281 billion in 2012, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said in a statement.

Investment in the quarter was 20 percent lower than the same period last year as spending in China, the U.S. and Europe fell. The U.S. saw the largest decline, sliding 41 percent to $5.5 billion, according to the London-based research company.

Europe’s clean-energy industry is retrenching after subsidies were reduced in nations from Germany to Spain, which helped propel record growth in previous years. Cheap gas in the U.S. driven by a shale-drilling boom and a reduction in China’s spending on wind power wind power also contributed to the overall decline, the London-based consultant said

One of the most facepalm-worthy parts of all of this is that supporters of the Obama administration’s regulatory war-on-coal largely and blithely rely on the argument that because the coal-substitute of natural gas has been doing so well, coal is naturally entering its sunset years anyway and will shortly fall prey to the economical powers of creative destruction — but strangely, they often forget to mention that coal could easily regain market share in the event that natural gas prices begin to rise for whatever reason The Obama administration is effectively barring that from happening on the domestic scene, while foreign demand for coal is growing; you need look no farther than Europe as a current Exhibit A for that eventuality. The editors of  RealClearEnergy, therefore, would rather the Continent spare us the lectures, emphasis mine:

What happens when you don’t frack and you decide to shut down nuclear? You return to coal. That’s the lesson that Europe is learning these days. Despite all the brohaha about carbon emissions and global warming, Europe is marching straight back into the past by increasing its reliance on coal for electricity – and this in spite of a continent-wide recession and slumping demand. Germany is the worst example. It is actually building new coal plants even as it shuts down reactors and claims to be converting to wind and solar. Those “renewable” sources just aren’t there when you need them.

Germany is actually building the new coal plants of which it is suddenly and unexpectedly finding itself in need, and the Environmental Protection Agency just enacted a de facto ban on the same. Great.


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I sure hope they get the coal from us.

Cindy Munford on October 14, 2013 at 7:37 PM

Europe cutting back on green-energy “investments” while coal makes a comeback

Welcome back Europe…

Electrongod on October 14, 2013 at 7:38 PM

I was afraid that the Left would re-write The Scrooge…

Instead of giving Cratchit a lump of coal…
It would be an ear of Corn..

Or was that Kermit the Frog….?

Electrongod on October 14, 2013 at 7:41 PM

Or was that A Christmas Holiday Carol

Electrongod on October 14, 2013 at 7:43 PM

Sounds like Europe realized a hard truth: people might talk big about going green, but ain’t nobody really gonna give up heat and light. Cutting those would probably be the quickest way to ensure anarchy, especially as we head into winter.

Marcola on October 14, 2013 at 7:56 PM

There is nothing more costly, than ignorance.

Murphy9 on October 14, 2013 at 8:07 PM

“Green” energy has its place (more of a niche I guess) but you simply cannot expect to maintain a modern industrial society with it.

I could see some individuals willing to lower their standard of living somewhat living off of solar and wind. Still, there’s always the initial start up costs, cost of replacing both mechanical and electronic components, and then there’s the lead-acid batteries to purchase and deal with when they no longer work and have to be replaced.

Dr. ZhivBlago on October 14, 2013 at 8:08 PM

Well they already power politicians with horse excrement…..

…..so they won’t need to worry about powering them.

PappyD61 on October 14, 2013 at 8:13 PM

Math generally will not be denied.

Johnnyreb on October 14, 2013 at 8:22 PM

Did anyone read the predictions of the silly UN report?

Pretty much… if there is a volcano between now and 2035… they have no idea what will happen with warming, other than not happen.

Really they admit they don’t have any predictions to make that are based on anything.

petunia on October 14, 2013 at 8:44 PM

People believe in “green”, until they find they can no longer afford to eat!

GarandFan on October 14, 2013 at 8:49 PM

Clean-energy investment fell 14 percent in the third quarter from the prior three months as Europe curbed subsidies and cheaper U.S. natural gas lured investment.

If the US Government were smart, it would encourage more fracking for natural gas, with the idea of exporting (liquefied) natural gas to Europe, so that Europe is less dependent on natural gas from Russia. This would give Europe more “flexibility” in the face of Komrade Vlad, and probably make Europe friendlier with the U.S. We could also get some of the money back that we’ve spent defending Europe since 1945.

But we can’t use “Obama” and “smart” in the same sentence–it’s an oxymoron, and Obama lacks the oxy.

People can have all sorts of clean green dreams about the sun and wind, but you still get more bang for the buck from oil, gas, and coal.

Steve Z on October 14, 2013 at 9:54 PM

Winter is coming.

BDavis on October 14, 2013 at 9:59 PM

I was completely in sync with this post until the last link about the “de facto ban”. I know that subjective conclusion is based on an evaluation of relevant emissions standards. However, I’m willing to bet that the new European coal-fired power plants will be in compliance with the standards that, in the US, Erika considers to be a “de facto ban”.

Look. Just build and retrofit coal-fired power plants in compliance with the new emissions standards. Periodically, they have to go offline for repairs and maintenance anyway. That way, you can keep using coal, which is a good thing. And it’s not that expensive, especially as compared to shutting down and writing off a plant.

In my lifetime, I have seen perceptible environmental improvements based, in part, on the imposition of new standards. Driving through LA in the 1970′s, my eyes used to water from the pollution. The last time I drove through there, the problem no longer existed. I still wouldn’t live there, but the fact is that the air has gotten cleaner.

HTL on October 14, 2013 at 10:09 PM

Driving through LA in the 1970′s, my eyes used to water from the pollution. The last time I drove through there, the problem no longer existed. I still wouldn’t live there, but the fact is that the air has gotten cleaner.

HTL on October 14, 2013 at 10:09 PM

The air is cleaner in California.

Of course, the aircraft industry is gone. So are the foundries, furniture manufacturers, plastics manufacturers, lumbering… Hell, you can’t even manufacture a surfboard in California anymore. Can’t have those resins polluting the atmosphere.

trigon on October 15, 2013 at 3:14 AM

No secret that Obama will choke off natural gas too, if he can.

petefrt on October 15, 2013 at 7:02 AM

Also good news for the refineries using heavy crudes as feedstock. It expands the market/price for their petroleum coke byproduct used to blend with low sulfur coal to increase the BTU value of such low BTU coal.

Petroleum coke is the export product that environmentalists claim as oil exports. The U.S. has been the largest exporter of petroleum coke in the world for a few decades now.

Kermit on October 15, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Driving through LA in the 1970′s, my eyes used to water from the pollution. The last time I drove through there, the problem no longer existed. I still wouldn’t live there, but the fact is that the air has gotten cleaner.

HTL on October 14, 2013 at 10:09 PM

The air is cleaner in California.

Of course, the aircraft industry is gone. So are the foundries, furniture manufacturers, plastics manufacturers, lumbering… Hell, you can’t even manufacture a surfboard in California anymore. Can’t have those resins polluting the atmosphere.

trigon on October 15, 2013 at 3:14 AM

It is the reformulated/unleaded gasoline used which has accomplished this. Nothing more, nothing less. The change in air quality occurred dramatically from 1989 to 1991.

Kermit on October 15, 2013 at 10:27 AM