If you believe the media hype, you would think that the use of coal to generate electricity was coming to an abrupt end across the globe. That all of the coal mines, transportation infrastructure and coal fired power plants around the world would suddenly be switched off and be of zero value. Stranded assets is the term bandied around social media.
That's about as likely as you boarding a solar powered commercial aircraft for your next holiday.
Coal has a future - a significant and long future as well. Coal will continue to be one of the world's most consumed energy fuels and will be a part of the energy mix for many nations. Below is a few facts why coal will defy the critics.
1. Current coal-fired power plants.
Coal-fired power plants built the developed nations of the world and they will build the developing nations of the world. Renewables are making progress but are nowhere near being a serious competitor of coal. For instance, renewables can't offer the same availability, efficiency and low cost power supply on a global scale that coal currently does. In the UK alone £39.6 billion has been invested in renewable energy since 2010, yet annually it fails to provide half of the electricity that coal does. At times (e.g. February - April 2015) it provides as little as 1% of the UK's total energy mix. Germany is another country that is an example of how renewables currently have no way of fully replacing coal or fossil fuel in general.
2. Future coal-fired power plants
It is estimated that there are approximately 1000 coal fired power plants being planned and developed across the world. The map below shows the countries that are planning to construct new coal fired power plants. As you can see it covers pretty much the entire globe.
Presently coal is more valuable than gold to the African economy. Today the same can be said for other countries, such as Australia, Indonesia, and this will spread globally over the next decade. The International Energy Agency predicts that thermal coal demand will continue to grow by 2.2% and metallurgical coal by 1.8% each year until at least 2040, highlighting coal's versatility and a preferred energy source throughout the world. Add in the developments in emission controls and carbon capture and storage, and coal will be the major energy fuel of the world. To cap it off we should also think about the many other uses for coal and these will only continue to grow. Currently coal has a few very vocal detractors. However, coal will continue to defy the critics by continually expanding global consumption.
Edited by Jonathan Rowland.
About the author: Russell Taylor has over 20 yr of experience in the coal mining industry as a mining engineer, project director and mining executive. Most recently, he was Executive Vice President and Project Director at Reliance Coal Resources in India.
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcoal.com/special-reports/29062015/coal-to-defy-the-critics-2485/