In a guest opinion piece in the LA Times, Robert Bryce of the Center for Energy Policy and the Environment at the Manhattan Institute talks about coal’s vital importance to our global economy.
Bryce writes, “Over the last decade, global coal consumption has increased by more than the growth in oil, natural gas and hydro and nuclear power combined.
We needn’t look only at developing countries to see the essential role of coal. After the disaster at Japan’sFukushima nuclear power plant, Germany is rushing to shutter its reactors. Although renewable-energy projects are the darling of European politicians, nearly 14,000 of the 36,000 megawatts of new electricity generation capacity that will be built in Germany over the next few years probably will be coal-fired facilities.
Coal is helping meet the world’s electricity demands for a simple reason: It’s cheap, thanks to the fact that deposits are abundant, widely dispersed, easily mined and not controlled by any OPEC-like cartels. According to theU.S. Department of Energy, from 1999 through 2010, coal cost about half as much per BTU as the next cheapest fuel, natural gas.