The International Energy Agency has said that “the United States will depend on coal for 25 percent of electricity in 2040’, proving that the natural resource is still an important part of America’s energy market as well as the global energy mix. Despite new energy sources increasing their dominance such as solar power, wind, nuclear and other forms, experts have said that coal is not going anywhere. Transitioning to other sources of energy will take time—that’s decades not years. Thus, as seen in the global coal consumption forecast, coal clearly has its uses and still powers much of the world.
More on the Global Coal Consumption Forecast
Based on data released by the World Coal Association, coal is now about “40 percent of the global electricity mix and it will be 30 percent in 2040”. It claims that coal will be mined for many years to come. Hence, it is essential to ensure that the process is as clean as possible and that any damage done to the environment is minimal. Notably, reducing carbon emissions and improving coal technologies will allow the United States to tap into fossil fuel energy which will see the country through into the next century—and beyond.
According to the New York Times, coal producers are voicing greater concern about greenhouse gas emissions. Their goal is to “frame a new image for coal as a contributor, not an obstacle, to a clean-energy future—an image intended to foster their legislative agenda”. In fact, three leading U.S. coal producers have come together to lobby for a tax bill to expand government subsidies to reduce the environmental impact of coal burning. Peabody Energy, Cloud Peak Energy and Arch Coal are championing modern technologies that are focused around carbon capture and sequestration—“an expensive and, up to now, unwieldy method of trapping carbon dioxide emitted from coal-fired power plants before the gas can blanket the atmosphere and warm the planet,” the New York Times states.
Executives say that coal and other fossil fuels will still dominate the fuel industry for the next several decades and that capturing carbon from coal-fired and gas-fired power plants can meaningfully shift the world to a low-carbon future.
World energy experts and environmentalists are backing this cause, and most agree that coal production should be used as a primary source of energy until resources are depleted.
Looking Beyond the Here and Now
Recently—alongside the global coal consumption —, it’s been observed that there has been a concerted effort to expand “renewables like wind and solar for power and in the capture of methane in oil fields to stem a powerful greenhouse gas”, BusinessMirror notes. Coal executives argue that given the same incentives and subsidies as renewables, carbon capture and sequestration could also take off in the same way and ensure coal production is good for the environment. Notably, clean energy is also a new addition to the market that’s now providing a healthy energy source. Fuel cells, grid-connected batteries, energy management systems and big area additive manufacturing are set to further increase the scope of the clean energy market over the coming years.
So, in summary of the global coal consumption forecast: As America slowly transitions to other sources of energy, it will most certainly take time—many decades, in fact—to completely move away from using coal. It’s true that coal clearly has its uses and still powers both underdeveloped and developed nations around the globe. Nevertheless, there is clearly a gradual but inevitable move away from this fossil fuel.