Friday, July 28, 2017

Coal for the poor

I've always thought that the argument beloved of climate change denialists that being anti coal was condemning the poor to stay poor was a bit of a crock.  Here, in a good article by David Roberts, is the explanation as to why:
The energy poor fall in two basic categories. Around 15 percent of them live in urban areas, in close physical proximity to power grids, but they aren’t reliably hooked up to those grids.

Both technical and political barriers prevent connection. Those households tend to be dispersed and consume very little energy, which means connecting them is a money loser for utilities. And in many poor countries, utilities are not under social pressure to provide universal access; indeed, they are often centers of patronage and corruption.

Building more coal plants and hooking them to those grids won’t help these households at all. Indeed, in countries like India where this is a serious problem, there is already excess coal capacity on the grid, so new plants are likely to sit idle.

Hooking these households to the grid requires better governance, better financing for the upfront costs of connection, and reform of electricity subsidies and tariffs.

The other 85 percent of energy-poor households are rural, distant from any centralized grid, mostly in Africa, India, and the rest of developing Asia. Putting more coal power on those centralized grids is obviously not going to help them.

EAS Sharma, former Indian minster of power, notes that some 6 million urban and 75 million rural Indian households lack electricity access. "These figures have not changed appreciably since 2001," he writes, "though around 95,000 MW of new largely coal-based electricity generation capacity was added during the intervening decade."

New coal plants are not targeted to areas with poor electricity access. Why would they be? Those households are poor! There’s no money there. Instead, coal gets built where there’s large-scale commercial or industrial demand.
Go read the whole thing, and email it to Sinclair Davidson, Henry Ergas et al ...

1 comment:

not trampis said...

It is simply another bow to the inequality argument. You bring up the incomes of most people and hey presto you get more people paying for electricity.

It is no wonder sinkers and the rest do not understand.
If only they had read about Sparta