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A week in coal: 12 December 2014

Published by
World Coal,

As the year comes to a close, here’s the your penultimate hit of five news stories that have made the headlines in the coal world this week.

A gloomy forecast

Starting off with the bad news and the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook this week, painting a less-than-rosy picture of the US coal industry in 2015. The administration reckons coal production will stay level with this year’s, while consumption and exports will drop – the latter down to 83 million short t, their lowest level since 2010 and over 40 million short t below their peak of 125 million short t in 2012.

Solar power: a miner’s new best friend?

Moving into more positive territory (it is nearly Christmas, after all), and a couple of cleantech stories caught our eye. The first looks at the potential to reduce energy costs are remote mines by installing solar plants instead of traditional diesel generators. The economics make sense – but financial risks have previously deterred investors. Dr Thomas Hillig of THEnergy explains how to mitigate these risks in a comment piece here.

What’s in your bottle?

And keeping with the cleantech theme, a US company has announced that it has successfully trialled technology to turn CO2 – that most controversial of gases – into useful stuff, like plastic bottles, face cream and wood glue. Or at least the raw materials used to make them.

Liquid Light’s technology can turn the greenhouse gas into ethylene glycol, an organic compound used to make polyethylene terephthalate (pet – the stuff in plastic bottles), polyester for clothing and antifreeze or, with a slight modification to the process, acetic acid, which can be used to make PVA glues, or glycolic acid used in skin care products.

Giving out the gongs

Awards ceremonies came thick and fast this week – and one man was at the centre of them all. On Tuesday, Peabody Energy’s Chairman and CEO, Gregory Boyce, was handing out the gongs at the inaugural Advanced Energy for Life Clean Coal Awards, honouring the best environmental performance among US coal-fired power plants. Then, on Thursday, the ubiquitous Mr Boyce was receiving them as he took the CEO of the Year Award and his company the Energy Company of Year Award at this year’s Platts Global Energy Awards in New York.

A new name

And finally, BHP Billiton announced the name for the new company to be created by the spin off of its unwanted assets. The new company will go by the moniker South32 – a reference to the 32 assets it will own, all of which are located in the southern hemisphere. The name was the result of a suggestion from one of the new company’s employees.

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