Stunning Photos Of The World's Future Energy Source

Power Lines Power Station Energy Nuclear Sun Set Pond

Photo: Hamish Blair/Getty Images

What’s the energy of the future?Some hold out hope that renewables like solar and wind will win the day in powering the globe.

There’s also a big nuclear contingent.

And yet others are convinced that the future of energy belongs to natural gas.

They’re all wrong. The energy of the future is coal.

Peabody CEO Greg Boyce says it is expected to become the world’s largest energy source, and has been the fastest-growing major global fuel.

He’s not alone in thinking so. According to BP’s Statistical Energy Review:

  • Coal will remain China’s principal commercial fuel forever. Its share will fall from 70 per cent to 55 per cent by 2030, but only because growth will have slowed and not because of energy competition.
  • Same for India: Coal will remain the primary source of energy growth, with consumption growing 48 per cent over the next 20 years.
  • Global coal use will grow 39 per cent over the next decade, tops for all electricity-generating fuels.
  • Nuclear, hydro and other renewables combined will only match coal’s share of the global energy mix in the next 10 years.
  • Consumption growth in non-OECD countries will average at least 2.1 per cent per year through 2030.

Click here to see stunning images of coal >

Here’s what all that looks like in graph form:

coal geddon

Photo: BP

How can that be? 

It remains the cheapest power source in the world — less than $3 per MMbtu and falling, while natural gas appears to have permanently breached that level. Natural gas currently trades for about $10/mmbtu in Europe and $15/mmbtu in Asia.

Meanwhile, nuclear costs several thousand dollars per KW of installed capacity versus closer to $1,000/KW for the other two fuels, according to David Dismukes, Associate Director of the centre for Energy Studies at Louisiana State University.

As it turns out, Europe gets much of it from the U.S., where transporting coal is much more cost efficient. Coal remains the lifeblood of our railroads.

And we’re looking to start shipping our coal to China.

We put together a presentation showing why the pronounced death of coal is extremely premature.

Global consumption of coal grew by 5.4 per cent in 2011, according to BP's Statistical Review.

Source: Financial Post

It was the only fossil fuel to record above-average growth and was the fastest-growing form of energy outside renewables

Source: Financial Post

McKinsey says India will prove the main global driver of thermal coal for years.

Source: Platts

Coal India hopes to boost production by 8 per cent by 2017.


Indian coal demand is estimated to grow to 1,000 MT a year by 2016.

India's inability to produce enough coal has slowed its growth.

Source: Fox Business

Their factories are running at full steam, and entire communities have been built up in and around coal factories in India. They depend on scavenging for a livelihood.

Many scavengers bathe in public after a day's work at the mines.

Schools that offer education for free have a hard time convincing parents to send their children to school, since they are seen as a source of income.

India's thermal coal imports rose 35 per cent in 2011.

Source: Peabody

U.S coal exports will probably set a record this year.

Source: Seeking Alpha

The U.S. already exported more coal than it had in 20 years in 2011.

Source: Seeking Alpha

China is helping build a new billion-dollar clean coal plant in Odessa, Texas.

Source: D Magazine

United Bulk Terminal, the biggest dry-bulk export facility on the Gulf, plans to upgrade coal and petcoke sites over the next two years.

A Kentucky-based firm recently signed a $7-billion deal with an Indian group to supply 9m tons of coal from Appalachia.

Source: Seeking Alpha

Even shale-rich North Dakota is about to open a new coal-fired plant.

Source: Jamestown Sun

More than half of U.S. exports, which represented about 13 per cent of U.S. production, went to Europe.

Source: FT

The IEA says U.S. coal exports rose 24 per cent in the first six months of the year.

Source: The Hill

Coal costs a third less than natgas in Europe.

Source: NASDAQ

UBS says utilities will build as much as 10,600 megawatts of new coal plants in Europe over the next four years.

That's compared with 1,600 megawatts of gas-fired plants.

Source: Financial Post


U.K. consumption increased by 43 per cent in the first half of 2012.

Source: Seeking Alpha

U.K. imports nearly doubled from 2.54m tons in 2010 to 4.92m tons in 2011.

Source: FT

A drought in Spain hit the country's hydro-power generation capacity, forcing utilities to import more coal.

Source: FT

Even in nuclear-heavy France coal's share of the country's energy mix has increased by almost 45 per cent compared to 2011.

Source: Seeking Alpha

Europe's energy future remains muddled as it grapples with its desire to reduce carbon emissions versus reducing nuclear.


Source: Financial Post

A year ago, the province approved a $1.7-billion expansion of a plant that will generate 500-megawatts.


In 2002, metallurgical coal exports from British Columbia totaled 5 per cent of the value of all commodity exports; in 2011, it was 22 per cent.

Source: Financial Post

Analysts say the economic opportunity for Pacific Northwest locals to increase coal traffic capacity to Asia is huge.

Source: The Hill

Eugene, Ore authorities hope to build a $250 million coal terminal at the city's port.

Source: SeattlePI

Over the past decade, coal consumption in the Asia-Pacific region grew 31.8 per cent per year on average.

Source: Energy Global

In 2011, Asia-Pacific's coal production reached an estimated 4.87 billion tonnes, or around 65 per cent of total global coal production.

Over the next five years, China and India will require more than 1.2 billion tonnes of additional coal for their electricity needs.

Source: Peabody

China's 2015 coal consumption should reach 5.0 billion tonnes.

Source: Peabody

Chinese coal-fuelled power rose 14 per cent last year.

Source: Peabody

The Party hopes to increase production capacity to 90 per cent by the end of the 12th Five-Year Plan in 2015.

Source: Energy Global

China's coal production is expected to grow at a compound rate of 3.5 per cent through 2020 to reach 4.5 billion tonnes per year.

Source: Energy Global

The country's coal consumption is expected to increase at a compound rate of around 4.6 per cent per year through 2020, to reach 5.2 billion tonnes per year.

Source: Energy Global

Analysts say the stocks of Chinese coal companies have almost certainly bottomed out.

Source: Bloomberg

Consumption is expected to continue to increase at a compound rate of around 5.2 per cent thru 2020.

Source: Energy Global

The country remains a net coal importer due to increasing consumption.

Source: Energy Global

Exports are expected to decrease at a rate of around 10 per cent per year to reach 20 million tonnes per year by 2020.

Source: Energy Global

Chinese coal imports are expected to increase at a compound rate of 15.4 per cent per year thru 2020 to reach 714.3 million tonnes.

Source: Energy Global

India will only have 750 MT of coal available, and would have to import to make up the difference in consumption.

India's power generators have been forced to curtail operations and seek coal overseas.

Source: Fox News

12-year-old Abdul Kayum works at a coal depot in the North East state of Meghalaya.

The coal is technically illegally scavenged from an open-cast mine, but the practice is common.

A young woman trips as she carries a large basket of illegally mined coal.

But people from all over the country seek out such work that reportedly pays $150 per week — double the national average.

The scavengers often work with rudimentary tools and in extremely unsafe conditions.

A worker climbs a rickety ladder while carrying about 132 pounds of coal that is supported by a head strap.

Mozambique plans to build an 1,800 mW coal plant by 2017.


Ministers recently warned that Zimbabwe's rail infrastructure was not equipped to handle the country's looming coal production growth.

Higher exports of iron ore from West Africa will help world shipments of coal double by 2017, according to DNB Bank ASA.

Source: Businessweek

The known amount of coal could alone power the world for 112 years.

Source: Financial Post

Source: Financial Post

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