Wednesday, June 22, 2016

California Setting Records with Renewables - 2016

Subtitle:  Renewables Saving The Grid by Reducing Natural Gas Demand

From CAISO, record-setting renewable production
A lot of good is being done by renewable energy power plants in California, especially with the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility at very limited capacity due to an earlier leak.  Renewable power plants are preventing the grid from experiencing blackouts. 

 The graphic at right, from California Independent System Operator, CAISO, shows renewable power production for what appears to be the record-setting date thus far, June 14, 2016.   Total renewable energy was 211,546 MWh.  Yesterday, June 22 was not far behind with 208,949 MWh.   Today, June 23's results are shown below, not quite a record but still a bit more than 200,000 MWh from renewables.  see link to CAISO archives on renewable output. 

Renewables on June 14 provided an average of 33 percent of the 24-hour total system demand.  On an hourly basis, renewables provided 46 percent of the load at 3 p.m. that day.   The load on the grid peaked at approximately 39,500 MW just before 6 p.m.   Solar production peaked at approximately 7,400 MW.  

These results are higher than the peak production in 2015, which was 189,000 MWh in a 24 hour period.   As could be expected, peak production occurs when solar power is at or near the Summer Solstice, June 20th typically, but also when wind production is greatest.   Wind production was at a maximum thus far at 92,000 to 93,000 MWh in the first half of 2016.  On June 14th wind provided 92,250 MWh.  Typically in California, wind production peaks in June or July then decreases for the remaining months (source, EIA). 
Renewables for June 23, 2016
showing Solar PV exceeds 7,000 MW
and total Renewables exceeds 200,000 MWh

The renewable energy produced saves the state from burning natural gas in the gas-fired power plants, which is a very good thing as this summer's loads must be met without the full production of stored gas from Aliso Canyon.   How much gas is not  burned is somewhat difficult to estimate because one must know which gas-fired power plants are not being run and their respective heat rates.  Also, as some gas-fired plants are no doubt operated at a slightly reduced rate, one must know the heat rate for each power plant at the reduced output.   Reduced output from selected plants is advisable to allow rapid power increase to compensate for variations in the renewable production due to clouds, and changes in wind speed. 

However, an estimate of the natural gas not burned can be made by taking the total renewable output from wind and solar, 167,950 MWh on June 14 (per the table at the top of the article), and using an average of 45 percent thermal efficiency for the power plants not being run.  On that basis, approximately 1.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas was not burned on that day.   Per California Energy Commission documents, that is nearly the same gas withdrawal rate at Aliso Canyon when it is at full operation (1.9 billion cubic feet maximum withdrawal).  See Table 1 in "Aliso Canyon Action Plan to Preserve Gas and Electric Reliability for the Los Angeles Basin,"  see link

The state's ability to produce renewable power has changed dramatically since the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) was taken off-line suddenly in 2012.  As

shown in the figure and California Energy Commission's page (see link), solar PV capacity grew from 214 MW at the end of 2011 to 5,498 MW at the end of 2015.  More capacity has been added so that, as above, solar PV now can produce approximately 7,000 MW.   Solar thermal recently has exceeded 700 MW peak.   

It is especially ironic that renewables, once derided as destabilizing a grid, are now riding to the rescue and helping to prevent blackouts on the California electric grid during summer heat waves.   One can only imagine the rolling blackouts and uproar with Aliso Canyon gas storage effectively out of commission, SONGS nuclear generating shut down, and if no renewable power plants had been installed over the past 5 years. 

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California
copyright (c) 2016 by Roger Sowell - all rights reserved

California to Close Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant

Subtitle: Solar Power to Replace Nuclear

It won't be right away, instead the closures of the two remaining reactors in California will be in 8 and 9 years from now, respectively, in 2024 and 2025.   That news rang across the nuclear camp yesterday, as PG&E, the plant's owner and operator agreed to shut the plant down at those dates and not seek a 20 year extension for the operating license.  Many articles on this are available, one from the Wall Street Journal (see link) does a credible job.   Title: "PG&E to Close California’s Last Nuclear Plant by 2025 - It will be cheaper to shut down Diablo Canyon facility and find replacement power, utility says."
Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant, image from Google Maps 2016
Arrow indicates twin reactors.   Pacific Ocean to the bottom right.

There are some interesting, biased, pro-nuclear articles too, mostly from those who seemingly cannot believe their beloved nuclear plants are being shut down, instead of being built in greater numbers.   Those articles grind on and on with their favorite themes: jobs lost if nuclear plants close, grid instabilities if nuclear plants are not there to anchor the fragile grid, save-the-planet with carbon dioxide-free power from nuclear plants, and of course the old stand-by, coal and natural gas prices might increase again someday.   What many of the pro-nuclear articles omit is the great capital cost that PG&E would incur to keep the plant running past 2025, and how much money the plant is losing by operating in the present economic conditions. 

Much of the hoopla and angst stems from the pledge by PG&E, one of California's largest utilities, to replace the 2,200 MW of electricity presently provided by Diablo Canyon with a mix of wind, solar, storage, and efficiency improvements - all at no additional cost to the consumers electricity bills.  

Taking the above list of four tentative reasons to keep the nuclear plant online, in order, with jobs first.   The plant employs approximately 1500 people, per PG&E.   Jobs and their loss are also trotted out by other nuclear plant owners across the nation, as those plants are shut down.  The company is to work with various unions to keep some employed to perform the decommissioning (more on that expensive fiasco later), transfer some to other jobs within the company, and perhaps provide severance packages to others. 

Second, the California grid is not at all fragile.  The simple fact is that Diablo Canyon is a drop in the bucket in the California electricity market; only 2,200 MW out of approximately 35,000 MW average production, or approximately 8 percent.   On a high-demand day, when demand reaches 45,000 MW (as it did yesterday), the nuclear contribution is a much smaller portion at only 5 percent approximately.  It is also a fact that another, equal-sized nuclear power plant dropped offline forever in 2012 when the SONGS (San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station) had multiple tube ruptures and spewed radioactive steam into the sunny skies of Southern California.   SONGS' 2,200 MW removal from the grid did not create any blackouts, rolling or otherwise.   The ISO, California's Independent System Operator, simply called for more production from the gas-fired power plants.    Also, in the four years since that time, California has installed at least 7,000 MW of solar power plants.   The grid's frequency stability is assured by the gas-fired power plants, and large hydroelectric plants.  

Third, saving the planet by producing power that is free of carbon dioxide emissions is required only by the false-alarmists who believe that CO2 will overheat the Earth's atmosphere.   CO2 in the atmosphere certainly has not produced any appreciable, nor alarming warming thus far.  

Fourth, the tired ploy of gas shortages that nuclear advocates used in the 60s, 70s, and 80s no longer works.  Natural gas is no longer in short supply with a high price, nor is it likely to ever be in that situation again.  The simple fact is that gas exploration companies know now how to use precision directional drilling (PDD) and hydraulic fracturing to good advantage, producing natural gas in surplus amounts.  The wholesale price is now under $2 per million Btu, due to PDD and hydraulic fracturing.   This is a world-wide practice, not limited to the US.   

So, then, what of the naysayers' claims that substituting wind, solar, and increased efficiency will replace the 2200 MW from Diablo Canyon?    Again, as above, the fact is that California added more than triple in solar MW compared to what was shut down at SONGS.  (7000 vs 2200 at SONGS).   The grid remains stable, blackouts did not occur.    

The wind resources in California are nearly fully exploited, as the state has only three economic locations for wind turbines at Altamont Pass, Tehachapi Pass, and Banning Pass near Palm Springs.   Any future capacity growth would be from retired wind turbine replacements with modern, more efficient turbines.   In addition, state-wide data shows that California's wind power plants have a lower-than-average utilization rate, or annual capacity factor compared to the states in the Great Plains region.  In good years, the wind provides approximately 26 percent capacity factor, and in poor years about 22 percent.   In contrast, the Great Plains states have capacity factors of 35 to 42 percent on an annual basis.  Using rough numbers, 40 for the Great Plains and 25 for California, a wind turbine would produce 60 percent more power in the Great Plains (40/25 = 1.6).   However, the costs to install and operate would be effectively the same.  It makes great sense to build wind turbines in the Great Plains but not in California.  

Increased solar power has some intriguing aspects that will be discussed next.   One major point (allegedly) in the Diablo Canyon shutdown agreement is that PG&E will procure 55 percent of its electricity from renewable sources.   This is 5 percent more than the 50 percent that state law mandates by the year 2030.    As wind power is not likely to increase much, the logical candidate is solar power.  The state has ample sunshine that presently produces approximately 8000 MW at noon (recent data from CAISO).   With a total annual power demand of 300,000 GWh, half by renewables then is 150,000 GWh.  Wind and other non-solar renewables in 2014 produced 34,000 GWh, leaving 116,000 GWh for solar to produce.   With the annual average capacity factor for California utility-scale solar of 26 percent (per EIA and California Energy Commission), the state would then require 51,000 MW of solar installed. 

And there lies the problem.  The solar arrays produce too much power for the grid to absorb on any given sunny day.  51,000 MW of solar output greatly exceeds the typical summer day's peak demand of 35,000 MW.   What, then, to do with all that mandated solar power?    One solution, already proposed and under consideration, is to store at least a portion of the solar energy output as hot oil, or molten salt, to be re-produced as electricity later at night.   Yet another is to increase the pumped storage hydroelectric capacity in the state, and store the energy by pumping water into elevated lakes.   A third solution is to store some of the excess solar energy in grid-scale batteries.   A fourth solution is to store some of the excess solar energy in gravity-based heavy rail storage systems, as the ARES system in Nevada will do when construction is complete.  

Update 1: 6/23/2016 -  More uses for excess electricity include a fifth solution - split water via electrolysis, store the hydrogen for later and produce electricity when needed via fuel cells; and sixth, have a multitude of electric vehicles on smart chargers to charge the batteries with excess power.   --- end update 1

It is an interesting time to live in California.  The last nuclear plant will close in less than a decade.  Solar power plants will be built in great numbers.  The electrical grid will not only survive, it will thrive.   Innovations and economics will, as always, combine to sort out the favored solutions to the various challenges that arise.   

Another article will discuss the expenses of keeping Diablo Canyon online, and why it makes economic sense to shut it down. 

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California
copyright (c) 2016 by Roger Sowell - all rights reserved

Saturday, June 18, 2016

California Grid Operator Anticipates High Demand June 2016

Subtitle: Heat Wave in Late June to Test Grid due to Gas Shortage

The first heat wave of the season is upon us here in Sunny Southern California, home of Southern California Edison, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and San Diego Gas and Electric, three of the major electric utilities in the area.   The California electrical grid is operated by the Independent System Operator, ISO or CAISO as it is also known.  ISO issued a stern warning letter yesterday, June 17, which is copied below.  

The context for the concern is that California has inadequate natural gas storage presently, but also has a large percentage of natural-gas fired power plants.  There are also two nuclear reactors (2200 MWe at max), geothermal, wind, solar, hydroelectric, and imported power available from the northwest states.   On a good day in the summer, renewables combine to produce approximately 180,000 MWh or 30 percent of total demand.   Thursday, June 16, 2016 was such a day.   

The natural gas storage facility at Aliso Canyon (near Los Angeles) suffered a major leak that was stopped and repaired in the past few months. see link  However, authorities will not allow the reservoir to be filled again until assurance is provided that another leak will not occur.  The result is a heat wave in which high electric demand will occur, natural gas fired power plants need gas to run, and a shortage of natural gas exists.   Therefore, the plea went out for all consumers to conserve.   

------------ Letter from ISO begins --------------------------
"June 17, 2016
ISO Logo

The ISO is preparing for state heat wave to ensure grid reliability; 
Flex Alert for voluntary electricity conservation likely to be issued next week

With record-setting heat expected in Southern California early next week, the California Independent System Operator (ISO) is preparing for potential stress on the electricity system and may issue a Flex Alert asking consumers to conserve energy to help prevent rotating power outages.

Electricity demand is expected to rise during the unseasonable heat wave on Monday and Tuesday, June 20 and 21, with forecasted system-wide energy use expected to exceed 46,000 megawatts. That total is slightly lower than the system peak demand last year of 47,358 megawatts. The all-time record peak of 50,270 megawatts was set in July 2006.

"We are confident we have a strong plan in place to meet the operational challenges posed by the upcoming hot temperatures," said ISO CEO and President Steve Berberich. "Conservation efforts by consumers are key to reducing stress on the system and to help avoid service disruptions."

The ISO is working with Southern California Gas Company, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, utilities, and the state's energy agencies to mitigate any potential reliability issues related to the limited operations of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility. The coordination and planning underway is critical to averting or minimizing power outages. Click here to view the ISO's Aliso Canyon Summer Preparedness Plan.

If conditions don't ease, the ISO is prepared to issue a Flex Alert for Southern California for Monday, calling on consumers to conserve energy. Another Flex Alert calling for statewide conservation may be necessary on Tuesday, as triple-digit temperatures are expected in many areas of the state.

Flex Alerts urge consumers to turn off all unnecessary lights, use major appliances only after 9 p.m., and set air conditioners to 78 degrees or higher. Consumers taking these steps can help prevent more serious power grid emergencies, including electricity outages.

Notifications that a Flex Alert has been called will be sent via the ISO's mobile app "ISO Today," posted to, the ISO's website at; on Twitter @California_ISO; and on Facebook.

Click here to find out more about Flex Alert and to sign up for email and text notifications.

When a Flex Alert is called take three simple actions:

• Set thermostat at 78° or higher and turn off, if away

• Cool with fans and draw drapes

• Turn off unnecessary lights and appliances

• Use major appliances in morning or late evening

Flex Alerts

The California ISO issues a Flex Alert when the grid is under stress to meet demand from generation or transmission outages, or from persistent hot temperatures.

Flex Alerts call for voluntary conservation before the ISO needs to start using energy reserves to maintain reliability. Conservation helps ease demand to avoid taking further steps to balance supply and demand, such as, in the extreme, local power interruptions."
-----------------  (end of ISO message) --------------


The state has had heat waves before.  In mid-September of 2012 there were two consecutive days of 100-degrees in Los Angeles.  The same occurred in 2010, where the second day reached 110 degrees F.   In 2009, 100-degrees occurred on one day in April, four consecutive days in August, and two consecutive days in September.  In 2008, the same 100-degree heat occurred in the last day of September and first of October.  In 2007, it was the first two days of September.  

A voluntary demand reduction program exists, in which some consumers turn off their non-essential power uses in exchange for slightly reduced power prices.  Typically, government offices close during such times.   The wisdom of this strategy is dubious, as workers then go home and turn on their air conditioners.   Perhaps the thinking is that the workers will be trapped in traffic and cannot make it to their homes to turn on the air conditioners.   Instead, they sit idling for hours in vehicles that burn gasoline.  

There are, in fact, a few more coping strategies that many of us use during such heat waves and power emergencies.   First, it is useful to drape a quilt or blanket over the closed blinds at windows and glass doors.  The quilt serves as insulation to block heat flow into the house.  Second, it is useful to freeze plastic jugs of water in advance in the freezer compartment of a refrigerator, or a separate freezer.    The plastic jugs of ice are then placed in shallow pans in a room, where they serve to chill the air.   A small portable fan can be used to circulate the chilled air.  

For those that want to follow the electrical grid status, here is the link to the California ISO website.  The graph shows present demand, projected demand and past demand for a 24-hour period.  see link

Update 1:  6/19/2016:  Downtown Los Angeles did not reach 100 deg F today, the peak was 96 degrees at 1:47 pm local.  Not much of a heat wave compared to the past decade (see above).

Second point, yes, as some readers pointed out, counting to four is not a strength at the CAISO in writing their advisories.   Their letter (in its entirety above) states there are "three simple actions" to take when a Flex Alert is issued, then lists four things.   Three, four, what difference does it make.   The grid is stressed and consumer conservation is a big help, indeed necessary. 

Third point, a Flex Alert has been issued for Monday June 20, for Southern California.   A second Flex Alert has been issued for Tuesday for the entire state.    --   end update 1. 

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California

copyright (c) 2016 by Roger Sowell - all rights reserved

US Monthly Power Generation Capacity Factors

Subtitle:  EIA Shows Actual Capacity Factors

A part of the ongoing debate over renewable energy vs coal, nuclear, and natural gas-based energy has to do with capacity factors.   The wind, and solar detractors (one is tempted to call them ignorant, but one refrains) constantly complain that wind has a capacity factor of only 20 percent, and solar is even worse at 25 percent.   The math behind those observations is just staggering.  

Despite having actual data from reputable, objective sources that show the true state of
affairs, the anti-renewable crowd continue to push the false figures.   The chart shows actual monthly capacity factors for several forms of electric power generation in the US over a recent few years 2011-2013.  Data is from the US Energy Information Agency, EIA.   see link    The EIA writes that capacity factor is "the ratio of a fleet's actual generation to its maximum potential generation."  Here, "fleet" is the combined set of power generation plants that have identical fuel. 

Several things are apparent from the chart.   First, in direct contradiction to the nuclear cheerleaders who constantly claim that nuclear "runs at 100 percent baseload," it is quite clear that the top line, the nuclear power capacity factors, never reaches 100 percent but oscillates between 79 percent and the mid-90s.  

Second, coal-powered plants also do not run "at 100 percent baseload" as their cheerleaders insist, but oscillate between approximately 50 to 70 percent.  Both coal and natural gas combined-cycle plants increase output in each summer due to the greater electric loads from air conditioning.  

Third, the blue line for hydroelectric averages about 40 percent with peaks in the Spring, corresponding to snowmelt and rainfall.  

Fourth, and quite importantly, the green line for wind shows maximum capacity factor of 40 percent (April of 2011 and 2013) and 39 percent three times in late 2011 and early 2012.   Wind capacity factor is at a minimum of 21 percent in the summer for each year.   As I have stated before, the wind energy capacity factors are approximately the same as for hydroelectric in many months.   What is not shown here is the actual electricity delivered in MWh.  In recent months (end of 2015), wind power produced the same MWh as did hydroelectric power.   The average capacity factor for wind in the US is 34 percent. 

Fifth and last, the bottom (gold color) line for combustion turbines is for those plants that are used for peaking power.  As expected, such turbines run most often in the hottest months of July and August.  Their capacity factors average approximately 3 to 4 percent, with peaks of 10 to 11 percent.   

None of this is surprising to those of us who are knowledgeable in matters of power grids, generation technologies, and the relative merits of renewables and legacy power plants.   This is entirely consistent with what we have known for decades.   What is surprising to me is the lack of knowledge of those who write such strong opinions, those who apparently dream up their facts without any basis in reality.  

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California

copyright (c) 2016 by Roger Sowell, all rights reserved

Hinkley Point C Nuclear Plant with Yet More Troubles

Subtitle:  Reactor Design In Question - Finances a Fiasco

The proposed nuclear plant at UK's Hinkley Point C has had substantial issues with approval as written about earlier on SLB (see here and here).  The plant is to consist of two reactors of 1600 MWe each of the EPR (European Pressurized Reactor) design.  An EPR inludes a single reactor with four steam generator loops.   Such EPR projects are having serious schedule and cost overrun issues at Flamanville, France and Olkiluoto, Finland.  Another is to startup soon in China.   From a recent article in The Guardian (UK), titled "EDF’s top managers tell MPs that Hinkley Point should be postponed - Senior figures at French energy company declare in letter that delay is needed until issues including reactor design are solved"   see link

"Outstanding problems highlighted by the senior managers at EDF include:

Areva NP, the designer of the European pressurised reactor (EPR) planned for Somerset (Hinkley Point), “is currently facing a difficult situation”.

The French nuclear safety authority (ASN) may not give the green light to the EPR being constructed at Flamanville in north-west France due to various anomalies (falsified inspection reports).

There may be “identical flaws” in an Areva EPR being built at Taishan 1 in China.

The scandal over falsification of parts from Areva’s Le Creusot (the steel supplier) that potentially put safety checks at risk.

Multibillion-euro litigation between Areva and the Finnish energy group TVO over delays to an EPR scheme at Olkiluoto remains unsettled.

An EDF offer to purchase Areva expired on 31 March, leaving “governance uncertainties upon the implementation of the Hinkley Point C project”.


The nuclear cheerleaders are loud and emphatic about the new generation of plants being economic and safe, and of course they claim they will last for 60 (some say 80!) years.  One must wonder, though, why such economic and safe plants (they say) have such horrible records of construction, why the very steel in the reactors themselves are not sufficiently strong to meet the safety standards, and now why there is so much opposition to the financing of yet another EPR, this one in the UK.  

To review: Olkiluoto is years behind schedule, and billions of Euros over budget.  Flamanville also is years behind schedule, billions of Euros over budget, and the reactor steel is alleged to be too weak to be safe (that is the "identical flaws" in the Guardian article above).  The steel safety issue is still under investigation.  The problem is that some of the molecules that are used to increase the alloy's strength did not remain properly dispersed in the thick steel, but congregated into clumps where they actually weaken the steel.   That is a serious and very expensive problem that will likely kill the project because casting a new reactor blank, then forging and finishing will cost far too much and take far too long.   

The French financial fiasco is in addition to the French steel strength saga.  

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California

copyright (c) 2016 by Roger Sowell, all rights reserved

Saturday, June 11, 2016

US Electricity Generating Plant Costs - 2013

Subtitle: Wind and Natural Gas Form an Unbeatable Combination

Figure 1.
A report from US Energy Information Agency, EIA, provides the average installed cost of new electrical power generating plants in 2013, grouped by type of fuel or energy input where no fuel is consumed.  The capacity installed is also shown in the length of the blue bars.  See chart, Figure 1.  A few things are notable on this chart, especially what is not shown.  No data are present for nuclear power, and none for coal 
power.  No nuclear plants started up in 2013, and coal power plants are on the decline as they are closing, not opening.   Also, Figure 1 shows the types of fuel or energy input in decreasing order of capacity installed.   

Figure 2.   Nuclear cost based on AP-1000 under construction at Vogtle
chart by R. Sowell 

A different version of the chart, using the same data but including the US cost to build nuclear, is shown as Figure 2.  This shows the different fuel, or motive energy type, in order by increasing cost per kW.   

An interesting result from Figure 2 is the combined cost of wind power, $1895 plus natural gas power, $965.  The total is $2,860 per kW, less than one-third the cost of nuclear power at $9,000 per kW.    The net operating cost of the combination, wind plus natural gas, is also quite interesting.  With natural gas at approximately $2 per million Btu, and the combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) technology, fuel costs amount to approximately $0.012 per kWh.  Or, $12 per MWh for those who prefer that unit of measurement.   The wind, of course, costs nothing per kWh, although there are small operating costs for labor and parts.  If one takes the case of 33 percent wind and 67 percent natural gas for the power provided from the two forms, the average cost of fuel then is only two-thirds of $12 per MWh, or $8 per MWh.   That provides a fuel bill for generation that is far less than from a nuclear power plant.  The total installed cost, as above, is less than one-third that of a nuclear plant.  Even if one accounts for wind power providing approximately 33 percent output on average compared to the nameplate capacity, the combined cost remains at one-third less than nuclear.  The best benefits, though, are no danger of nuclear radiation, and the combined plants easily follow the grid load.   There is also a substantial reduction in cooling water used.  

Nuclear proponents, or cheerleaders as they are known here at SLB, will try to point out that nuclear plants last for 60 years.  They do not, however, as the world data clearly shows.   The nuclear plants are shut down at or barely over the 40 year age.   

The natural gas plants last 40 years with proper maintenance and care, and wind power plants last about 20 to 25 years before requiring major repairs.  Even with wind turbines rebuilt to like-new condition after 20 years, the cost per kW is steadily declining and the total cost over 40 years is still far below that of nuclear plants. 

The future is quite clear: coal plants are shutting down, nuclear plants are shutting down as uneconomic, while natural gas and wind are being built in great quantities.   

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California

copyright © 2016 by Roger Sowell, all rights reserved. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

UK Coal Power Dwindling Rapidly

Subtitle: Zero Coal Power on Several Days

It appears that other coal-burning countries also have dwindling demand for coal for power generation, in this case the UK is reported to have reached several days with zero power produced from coal.   

"... last month a historic “zero coal” milestone was reached when on seven separate occasions in one week Britain was powered without any coal-power station burning. As a consequence imports of coal to the UK are plummeting."  -- article from 5 June 2016, "UK ports look beyond fading coal imports"  see link

How very interesting.   It is now cheaper to import and burn biomass (wood pellets, from what I read) than to install pollution controls on the coal-burning power plants.  

The US is still burning coal for power generation; how much longer is uncertain.  

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California
copyright © 2016 by Roger Sowell, all rights reserved.