In a story today about the surging profits of Peabody Energy (a major American coal producer), Climatewire (subscription required) quoted Peabody Chairman and CEO Gregory Boyce as saying that coal is entering a “demand super cycle” due to exploding Chinese growth. According to Mr. Boyce, “China now forecasts that 290 gigawatts of coal-fueled generation will come online from 2011 to 2015.” He calls the demographic trends in China “overwhelming.”

Two quick snap responses:

  1. There’s a silly meme being bandied about by the mainstream media that China is winning some sort of green energy great game with America. In fact, China is building two coal fired power plants every three weeks, while in the U.S., environmentalist lawyers recently celebrated the scuttling of 100 coal fired plants. We are losing an energy game with China, but the prize isn’t green energy. Rather, it’s affordable, reliable energy. They are building it. We aren’t.
  2. Peabody is looking for a west coast port to increase the export of low cost coal from Wyoming to China. That is, China is welcoming the coal our country is spurning. As a result, we are heading towards a future where the U.S. buys expensive green energy from China (because it is cheaper to manufacture there), while China buys cheap coal from the U.S. Guess whose energy future is more promising?