Moon Jae-in orders shutdown of old coal-fired power plants

18491371_10155308407957350_3412797447490309162_o A minor note; President (Moon Jae-in)’s decision to halt operating aged coal-fired plants shows his strong will to provide a fundamental solution to the current fine dust problem,” said Yoon Young-chan, the chief press secretary. Yoon also said Moon has ordered the senior social affairs secretary to create a special task force to deal with measures to combat fine dust here via VV on Twitter.

Which is to say, it seems likely that lots of coal will be retired for it’s other polluting properties, rather than it’s CO2 emissions. This isn’t a new observation of course.

Meanwhile, it’s springtime in the garden and the irii1 are out.

In other news, yet another successful SpaceX launch, yawn :-).


1. Of course I don’t know.


* Quotation of the Day at Cafe Hayek from page 154 of John Cochrane’s superb 2014 speech “Why and How We Care About Inequality”.
* 21st Century College Admissions: Bidding for Brains – via CafeHayek

25 thoughts on “Moon Jae-in orders shutdown of old coal-fired power plants”

  1. Yes. It seems to be the accepted playbook: Get rid of coal and nuclear, replace with gas + some wind/solar. Wax lyrical about how much electricity you are generating from renewables when conditions are just right, sweep the figures for total generation and emissions quietly under the carpet.


  2. #4 I’m not sure I understand your point. Certainly worse choices are available, such as a Trumpian coal revival. NG + wind/solar as a plan leaves available the ability to ramp up wind/solar over time, especially as hoped for future storage makes higher fractions of nondispatchable power practical.
    A better path might be to retain the nuclear, replace the coal with gas and some wind/solar.
    What far better plan am I missing?


  3. The problem is, such a solution is inherently limited.

    Unless you want to add unfeasible amounts of storage, then such a system will rapidly reach a point where adding more renewables doesn’t do much, because you are just oversaturating the grid when conditions are favorable and still relying almost entirely on gas when not. There is something of a dead end there.

    It would be much easier for a country like South Korea, that has an existing emphasis on heavy engineering, to go for a fully-nuclear grid.


  4. Has anyone done the numbers for having parked electric vehicles tied into the grid as storage?

    I recall reading that most automobiles are driven ten percent of the time or less. A small country like South Korea that makes electric vehicles could put one in every household as part of distributed storage. And then use the older battery packs for more storage farms as they’re traded in as capacity drops.


  5. Using the words ‘John Cochrane’ and ‘superb’ in the same sentence is an indication that you are infected by a brain eating amoeba. Yes, I realize that I just did it. I think the quotes provide partial immunity.

    [Well, it’s a quote. And I liked the linked quote. If you don’t like it, you’re welcome to dissect it -W]


  6. > ” unfeasible amounts of storage”

    does that square with
    Storage systems have become so affordable and reliable that the commission said utilities should be deploying them as part of their “normal course of business.” ?

    Maybe we just haven’t got to the point where “adding more renewables doesn’t do much” because we are still at the stage of turning off gas to save fuel costs.

    But, by the time we do reach that point, perhaps storage will be even cheaper so then you add renewables and storage?


  7. Cochrane’s specialty is his death defying leaps of illogic as exemplified as follows: “If you believe cronyism is the problem, why is the first item on your agenda not to repeal the Dodd Frank act and Obamacare, surely two of the biggest invitations to cronyism of our lifetimes?”

    Cronyism is a problem, but Dodd Frank and Obamacare are hardly very good examples. Good examples are the oil and energy cabal and the military industrial complex. Of all the ridiculous myths, the notion that one can deregulate one’s way to less rent seeking is one of the silliest. We’ve got six thousand years of history to show the concentration of economic power in a few hand leads to oligarchy and very successful rent seeking. Virtually the only power that has ever checked this tendency is government.

    [DF is a good example of something to get rid of, but I agree not obviously cronyism. And OC is again mostly something he hates. But I don’t think O+E is a good example of a cabal. MI probably is a good example of rent seeking, but that is indeed fueled by the govt -W]


  8. Crandles #9 — At current prices storage in the form of flywheels, supercapacitors and batteries are only useful for frequency control and other ancillary services necessary to keep a grid from collapsing. There simply is not the pure energy capacity to replace wind farms during a calm air event or an overly windy one.

    While battery prices are dropping, there still won’t be enough…


  9. Speaking of storing energy, South Africa used pumped storage years before renewables became available.
    In pumped storage, there are dams at different levels. If demand suddenly dropped, power stations that were “switched off” still had a lot of steam in their boilers that could be used to generate electricity. To prevent this from going to waste, water would be pumped from dams at a lower level to dams at a higher level. In periods of demand, the water was sent through hydroelectric turbines to generate electricity.
    Note that this was done before renewables were added to the grid. A huge amount of electricity could be/can be/is stored this way.
    Another alternative is to have vertical axis wind turbines driving flywheels directly, which are then used in periods of low winds to generate electricity.
    Just because the solutions to storing energy are currently not adequate doesn’t mean that they will never be.


  10. Julian Frost #13 — At least in the USA pumped storage only pays when daytime rates are significantly higher than overnight rates. The pumped storage operator buys at night and sells in the daytime. With only one or two exceptions the upper reservoir does not have enough stored potential energy for even two days of selling without being able to buy during the intervening night.

    Various super sized pumped storage schemes have been proposed but the economics is seriously unfavorable. Far more sensible is a certain number of nuclear power plants, despite the unpopularity of such.


  11. Certainly 4 Gigafactories planned including one beginning production won’t be enough. Musk thinks about 100 needed.

    It will take time to get 1 factory in production up to 100 but lots will come in time.

    We should have optimism that it is possible if we have the will to get on and do it rather than starting with pessimism that it is impossible. That is a more positive message that should be easier to sell.

    (Not saying it won’t be difficult to overcome reluctance imparted by vested interests.)


  12. I am struggling to post a link with comment #9 or here for some reason, so you will have to search for
    “New York PSC directs utilities to deploy 2 or more grid-scale storage projects”

    That or Tesla Australia installation does not seem to square with “batteries are only useful for frequency control and other ancillary services”.

    [Sorry about that. Nothing is obvious in the moderation queue. Feel free to mail wmconnolley (at) if problems persist -W]


  13. Pumped storage, batteries, etc, all need a difference in rates to be profitable.
    Energy storage is lossy, and capital intensive. The more efficient and cheaper it is, the smaller the difference can be.

    The capital cost is a cost per year. This need to cover both replacement, return on investment and other costs. The more cycles per year, the smaller the cost difference needed to earn a profit.

    If you cycle the storage once a day:


    If you cycle the storage once a year:


    With no energy storage, perhaps 20% to 30% can be renewable. Solving the daily cycle problem will let renewables get into the roughly 60% to 80% range. Batteries last year were about $400 per kWh, look to be getting down to the $200 per kWh stored soon, and perhaps as low as $100 per kWh eventually. The yearly cycle and longer is probably better supplied with something else, meaning nuclear. Assuming you get one cycle every two days:

    $400 * 10% / 180 = $0.22 per kWh
    $200 * 10% / 180 = $0.11 per kWh
    $100 * 10% / 180 = $0.055 per kWh

    Actual installations don’t get daily cycles due to weekends etc. This can make sense now in high cost areas with solar, with rates that have demand charges and so on. I do not see a path for once a year storage, without some new technology.


  14. > Dodd Frank

    Ya know, one of the problems with the US economy is the creation of lots of spendable money out of thin air. Would you play poker with people who could shuffle the deck and thereby turn low cards into high cards, and deal them to themselves?

    Much of the money paid as bonuses for the mortgage scam represents no useful work whatsoever.

    Pity there’s no law of thermodynamic ecology forbidding creating spendable money out of think air. Wasn’t money intended to represent actual sweat labor, of some sort?

    And all that spendable money rushes into the market and pushes prices outta whack.


  15. I will accept once a year storage isn’t going to be economic, even if I do suspect that once gigafactories have paid off their investments at those sort of rates and there is sufficient capacity for competition to drive prices down, gigafactories might cut the cost of storage by an order of magnitude or maybe a little more. (A little but not hugely more than your factor of 4.)

    Many grids have close to 20% biofuel. Why can’t you stockpile biofuels and burn those rapidly for the unusual periods where both wind and solar is low for a long period? OK wood pellets seems widely viewed as a bad idea, but food waste and other non edible farm production and so on could surely cover such periods?

    Annual cycle: Well if solar and wind cost less than half of ff burning just overbuild to cope with peak of annual demand and if some of these are not used away from peak of the annual demand, then that is still cheaper. Batteries for daily to weekly storage and biofuels for the unusual long periods of low renewables supply. It will take a while to get there but I don’t think it is fundamentally impossible to do.


  16. Unused biofuels rot. Here in Washington state there are about a dozen forestry waste burners which operate just in the fall and winter. These actually loose money, but less than other means of disposing of the wastes.

    I seriously doubt schemes to use biofuels as long term reserves against extended periods of low wind, for example. Here in the Pacific Northwest the wind can cease for up to 6 weeks in the fall.


  17. crandles #16 — What Tesla Australia project? The proposed one in South Australia has been canceled by the nature of the call for proposals.

    Incidentally, not 2 km from here is a “utility scale” battery housed in a 40 foot shipping container. It is for ancillary services added after the wind farm further up the small transmission line from the dispatchable generators to the north. Works well to regulate our local portion of the grid.


  18. >Unused biofuels rot.
    If that cannot be contained to avoid being a health hazzard and/or loses well over 20% of energy maybe that is a bit of a problem, otherwise who cares?

    6 weeks, that is quite a long time. But if you have batteries for daily to weekly cycling then that can provide some. Solar produces some even in cloudy weather. If you have overbuilt renewables for peak demand time of year and 6 weeks occurs at non peak time, that produces some more. Biofuels can burn a bit more to help. Then there is long distance transmission, and nuclear and hydro ….

    So 6 weeks can easily be reduced to less than 10% of annual demand and perhaps a lot less.

    But why should I argue about where between 90% and 100% is possible when we are so far from 90%? By the time we get nearer to 90% we will have better idea how to do remaining 10% and maybe it is only 5% or less.

    Why not a Muskish ‘can do’ attitude to inspire people instead of a negative doom and gloom attitude? (OK don’t want to make it sound too easy or people won’t bother to worry but …)


  19. >Here in the Pacific Northwest the wind can cease for up to 6 weeks in the fall.

    Not everyone lives in such places, here in mountainous Wales the weather is much more changeable. I don’t doubt there are places that suffer such extended periods but not everywhere is like that. In addition you tend to site turbines on mountain ridges or offshore which due to differential heating rates are much more reliable. Similarly for solar, desert locations suffer much less cloud.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s