Coal Has a Future

In spite of the media’s constant harangue over the dangers of using coal and this administration’s war on coal, the future of coal isn’t as black as one might think.

While most coal is used for power generation, a significant amount, approximately one-third of worldwide coal production, is used for making steel.

Toward this end, Ramaco Development Corp. is investing $90 million in a new metallurgical coal mine in West Virginia, which will create around 400 jobs. While this is a small number compared with the number of jobs that have been lost due to the war on coal, it is important to the communities located near the mine.

While steel demand in China has recently fallen, the production of steel will grow as China’s economy resumes growth, albeit at a slower pace. Additionally, underdeveloped and developing countries, such as India, will also grow and use more steel. Metallurgical coal, i.e., coking coal, usage will grow.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that worldwide coal usage, metallurgical and steam coal combined, will increase between now and 2040.

World coal consumption from EIA
World coal consumption from EIA

While this won’t match the explosive growth during the past dozen years, which was fueled by China, it is still significant.

This growth will come from developing countries.

Graph of Non-OECD coal usage in quadrillion BTUs from EIA
Graph of Non-OECD coal usage in quadrillion BTUs from EIA

A large amount of this usage will come from India, which plans to double its coal production by 2020.

India's domestic coal consumption from EIA
India’s domestic coal consumption from EIA

But, India isn’t alone in its use of coal for power generation.

Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines also intend to increase coal consumption for power generation. And it’s not just in Asia that the use of coal is growing: Turkey plans to build 80 new coal-fired power plants.

While China’s use of coal will not grow as rapidly, it will still grow around 15% between today and 2025, according to the EIA.

The idea that developing nations will commit economic suicide by not increasing their generation of electricity using the least costly method available, i.e., coal, is delusional.

If Germany, the embodiment of renewables, is failing to reduce its use of coal for power generation, why should anyone expect developing nations to not use coal to increase living standards in their countries?

The United States can reduce its use of coal for power generation, because it has large quantities of cheap natural gas. India, and other developing countries, don’t have inexpensive natural gas, so they must turn to coal, or nuclear, for base load power generation.

The growth in the use of coal in developing (non-OECD) nations will more than offset any reductions the United States may make. As a result, CO2 emissions will increase.

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Nothing to Fear, Chapter 15, An Alternative Hypothesis, describes why the sun is the far more likely cause of global warming..

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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