The Global Boom in coal

The world is building a lot of coal-fired power to go with all of the coal-fired power it already has. This is horrible because air pollution from coal kills more than one million people every year. We need to use all other means to reduce the increase in coal usage, this means more nuclear as well as more renewables and more conservation.

Nations will add enough coal-fired capacity in the next five years to create an extra 1.2 billion tons of CO2 per year. China accounted for two-thirds of the more than 560 coal-fired power units built in 26 nations between 2002 and 2006. More than over 2 coal-fired power units each week between 2002 and 2006. The Chinese plants boosted annual world CO2 emissions by 740 million tons.

Germany, one of the renewable energy stars for subsidizing renewable energy by about 45 EU cents per kWh, is building 20 coal plants.

The United States is accelerating its buildup dramatically. In the past five years it built 2.7 gigawatts of new coal-fired generating capacity. But in the next five years, it is slated to add 37.7 gigawatts of capacity, enough to produce 247.8 million tons of CO2 per year, according to Platts. That would vault the US to second place –just ahead of India – in adding new capacity.

Even nations that have pledged to reduce global warming under the Kyoto treat are slated to accelerate their buildup of coal-fired plants. For example, eight EU nations – Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic – plan to add nearly 13 gigawatts of new coal-fired capacity by 2012. That’s up from about 2.5 gigawatts over the past five years.

The world faces the prospect five years from now of having 7,474 coal-fired power plants in 79 countries pumping out 9 billion tons of CO2 emissions annually – out of 31 billion tons from all sources in 2012.

The US is planning to build more than 150 coal-fired power plants that don’t sequester their emissions, according to the US Department of Energy


The most recent issue of Business week discusses the USA coal industry Peabody Energy Corp. (BTU ) Gregory H. Boyce, chief executive of the world’s biggest coal company, is gambling that the threat of higher electric bills and brownouts will be enough to halt crippling federal regulation.

In a 2006 study, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. (AB ) analyst Hugh Wynne calculated that even with a relatively steep price for carbon emissions—say, $27 per ton, more than the price in Europe—coal-fired generation still beats gas by 30%. That suggests operators of new coal plants could buy all the carbon credits they need without resorting to costly CO2 capture technologies.

1 thought on “The Global Boom in coal”

  1. D-Day had a pretty big limited goal. Take down a Europe wide enemy. Plus it was to kickstart the dirty job, which had only begun in North Africa.

    I think the cost effective ways to do it involve:

    The magnetically inflated cables for making big structures cheaply in space and can also make superior space vessels.

    Adjusting policy to let the entreprenuerial efforts bear fruit. this is already starting to happen.

    Push ahead on hypersonic rockets that could make cheap two stage launch systems. Second stage could be plasma magnets or tethers.

    Magnetic plasma systems also will be good out in space.

    The tech is coming together for inexpensive and profitable systems to drive this forward.

    It could all happen faster with more will and with the efficiency not to flush $300+ billion/year on the relatively pointless Iraq situation.

  2. You had me up until you mentioned D-Day. D-Day was a grand operation with a limited goal. To finish a dirty job so millions of boys could go home.

    I’m with you on the goal. But we’ve been flooded with rhetoric since the 1970s about this. We know why it’s a good idea. What we need are realistic designs and some notion of how this all gets paid for.

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