If you think China is a polluted wasteland with no hope of recovery, you are wrong. While China has a very long way to go and it is true China is still adding new coal fired electricity plants, it is also the case that China is closing old inefficient coal fired plants and making massive investments in clean tech. Take a look at this 1 minute video that goes over the numbers. You will see that China is outpacing the US and practically everyone else in the world in green tech. From investments in solar panels to electric cars, China is moving at a pace that is quite astonishing.
The free market price of Natural Gas which is about twice as clean as coal’ is driving the coal business back into the ground. In addition to heavily fracked natural gas reserves in the US Permian Basin, the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin (read: Alberta) is mostly a natural gas play and today they are “selling” natural gas for less than free. Yes, producers are being forced to sell their natural gas at pricing like $-.05/unit for multiple days in both September and October 2017. This is because industrial natural gas storage is already at capacity and producers dare not turn off their wells for fear they will not be able start them up again.
You may have head some blowhard politicians discuss the the small resurgence of coal in 2017 but it had nothing to do with electricity production, but rather steel production. So called Metallurgic Coal, burns at a higher temperature which is idea for producing steel. Burning coal at higher temperatures reduces its emissions so ‘met coal’ is slightly better for the environment than ‘thermal coal’.
Metallurgical coal or coking coal is used in the process of creating coke necessary for iron and steel-making. Coke is a porous, hard black rock of concentrated carbon that is created by heating bituminous coal without air to extremely high temperatures.
This small bump in coal production has not and will not result in notable increases in employment in the “fly over” states like Kentucky and Pennsylvania because of automation. One man is now able to the job of 10 from just a few decades ago. Coal miners now have some technical skills and run multimillion dollar machines that operate in the most dangerous environments so humans don’t have to. Among the hundreds of other well researched articles on the topic you might be interested in THIS one titled, Coal Job Were Lost To Automation, Not Trade.
While not covered in this video there are many other fascinating statistics like the fact that China’s environmental regulations for new vehicles is stricter than even California’s. Also, want be interested in which companies are really making Autonomous Cars happen in 2017 2018.