Coal Battered, but Not Down

Coal usage in the United States is heading lower because of the administration’s war on coal. The EIA forecasts a 16% reduction in US coal production from 2014 to 2017.

Meanwhile, coal usage around the world is increasing.

According to the IEA, “Global coal consumption increased by more than 70% from 4,600 Mt in 2000 to an estimated 7,876 Mt in 2013, and at a 4.2% annual rate, coal was the fastest-growing primary energy source in the ten years through 2013.” Since then, coal usage has declined slightly because of China’s economic slowdown.

But coal usage is forecast to increase substantially. By 2040, the EIA expects global coal-fired generation capacity to expand from about 1,800 gigawatts in 2013 to about 2,300 gigawatts in 2040, or about 500 gigawatts, or 28%.

Usage will increase most in China, but India and other developing economies will also rely on coal as the preferred method for generating electricity.

The reason? Coal is the least costly method for generating electricity in these countries, and coal is abundant.

And, with new ultra-supercritical (USC) coal-fired power plants, the pollutants are largely contained, so they can increase electricity production without fear of pollution.

Traditional coal-fired power plants had a thermal efficiency of around 32% HHV, while new USC coal-fired power plants have a thermal efficiency of around 45% HHV. This advance in technology has been brought about by improvements in metallurgy.

Improvements in efficiency also translate into corresponding reductions in NOx, SOx, Hg, and other pollutants. With modern pollution control equipment, these plants deserve the sobriquet of clean-coal.

USC plants emit around 1,700 pounds of CO2 per MWh, which exceed the new EPA regulations that only allow 1,400 ponds per MWh.

However, USC plants emit much less CO2 than do traditional subcritical plants.

China has not agreed to cut CO2 emissions until 2030, which reflects the massive building of new coal-fired power plants.

By 2030, China’s CO2 emissions could be 3 times that of the United States. MIT estimates involving carbon taxes are somewhat lower at around 13,000 MMT, but still 2 – 3 times that of the United States.

China 2030 CO2 Emissions with Obama Accord
China 2030 CO2 Emissions with Obama Accord

China and India are intent on improving the condition of their people and the removal of poverty to as great an extent as possible. Eliminating poverty requires cheap and abundant electricity.

Piyush Goyal outlined Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government’s mission to provide energy access to everyone across India by 2019 when he said:

“It is also important to understand the agony of poverty. It is important to understand the pain that the common man experiences when he is required to pay very high cost for energy.”

The same conditions exist across SubSaharan Africa, and only coal can bring an end to poverty.

A speaker at the recent Platts nuclear conference in Washington said:

“Coal is the only way to eradicate poverty. Coal gave us the modern world. It is easier to put in coal generation than anything else.”

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Nothing to Fear explains why CO2 isn’t to be feared, why politicians are harming Americans by pushing the CO2 agenda, and that mankind has benefited from using fossil fuels and can continue to do so, perhaps for 1,000 years.

Nothing to Fear is available from Amazon and some independent book sellers.

Link to Amazon:

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear
Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

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