Could be tight on the grid today
I’ve been hesitant to attempt any predictions about potential blackouts on the grid this year because I don’t want to become a Boy Who Cried Wolf. Also, it hasn’t felt…
During the legislative session, we heard Governor Walz, House DFL members, and liberal environmentalists call climate change an “existential crisis,” several times (give or take a million). This so-called crisis was used as justification for trying to pass radical Green New Deal-style legislation in Minnesota in an attempt to dramatically reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Absent from these discussions, however, was any context for global carbon dioxide emissions and the impact they will have on future temperatures.
This seems like a massive oversight. It’s called global warming, after all.
The most likely reason this discussion never occurred is because it would undermine the Governor’s case for imposing new green energy mandates on the electricity sector.
Why would it undermine the Governor’s case? The graph below from Carbon Brief shows developed countries are reducing their emissions, but the developing world, in many respects, is only just beginning to ramp up their emissions. The world is home to 1.1 billion people who have no access to electricity, and they will burn coal to generate it if necessary. This means that whatever we do to reduce emissions in the United States will be dwarfed by increasing emissions from the developing world, particularly China and India.
For example, India is currently in the process of dramatically ramping up it’s number of coal-fired power plants. In fact, the country plans on building the equivalent of 42 Sherburne County coal plants, the largest power plant in Minnesota, in the coming years. Doing so will increase India’s ability to provide affordable, around-the-clock energy to millions of people who need it. It will also increase carbon dioxide emissions.
Most of the new coal plants India is building are supercritical coal plants, which are about 20 percent more efficient than the coal plants we have here in Minnesota. Knowing this, we can estimate how much CO2 these plants will emit once they are up and running.
Running the numbers, these plants will emit about 517 million metric tons of CO2 per year, which is approximately half of the CO2 produced by burning coal in the entire United States.
Similarly, Xcel Energy’s share of carbon dioxide emitted from Sherco and A.S. King represent just 3 percent of the total emissions that will come online from India in the coming years.
This is why Xcel’s plan to shut down their coal plants early is such utterly bad policy. Sherco and A.S. King generate some of the most affordable, reliable, electricity in the state and replacing them with wind, solar, and natural gas will needlessly drive up the cost of electricity for Minnesota families and businesses.
Why should Minnesotan’s pay more for their electricity when any reductions in CO2 will be dwarfed by increasing emissions from India?
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