With coal being seen as a fast-declining industry, people are left wondering who is helping keep the industry alive. Despite its long decline, coal companies continue to exist, meaning someone or something must be driving the industry forward. This article takes a closer look at who is helping to keep the coal industry alive.
1. The Unexpected Resurgence of Coal
In recent years, coal has been regarded as an outdated energy source, facing a bleak future with forthcoming bans and tightening emissions standards. Despite this, coal has quietly been making a return, entering the energy mix despite the stiff competition from renewable sources.
In the last decade, countries like India and China have invested significantly in new coal-powered plants. This has been attributed to the affordability of the fuel; even while oil and gas prices have risen, coal has remained relatively steady. Similarly, technological advancements have allowed for more efficient burning of coal, leading to more sustainable use.
- Affordable – Coal has remained relatively inexpensive compared to other energy sources.
- Technology – New technologies for burning coal have allowed for more efficient usage.
2. Exploring Coal’s Role in the Energy Ecosystem
Coal has changed the face of energy production the world over. It has been an integral part of the industrial revolution, but in recent years its usage has become heatedly debated.
On the one hand, coal has helped to drive innovation and progress, allowing for a greater supply of energy overall. Its influence on energy grids, infrastructure, and economies is undeniable. Coal is an incredibly powerful source of energy, packing more wattage in a handful of coal than any other combustible fuel. It is also abundant, with the most coal reserves located in the United States, Russia, and China.
The flipside to coal is its associated environmental impacts. Coal plants release carbon dioxide, which is a major contributor to global climate change. Additionally, burning coal yields other pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter. The combustion of coal can also harm local wildlife, with areas surrounding coal-fired power plants experiencing higher rates of acid rain.
Given the undeniably powerful impact of coal on the energy ecosystem, it is important to understand the complexities of this energy source. While it is important to be mindful of its associated risks, it is also important to recognize its capabilities and role in advancing energy production.
3. Who Is Helping to Keep Coal Alive?
In recent years, coal has been met with waning favor as a primary source of energy. Despite this, many organizations and individuals are fighting back with a desire to keep this precious resource alive in some way or another.
First, national coal production companies are investing in more efficient ways of extracting coal. This includes the use of new technologies like supercritical plants, as well as building more efficient coal-powered generators. Additionally, many of these organizations are revitalizing coal-fired power plants and exporting coal to international markets. Even though cost-competitive renewable energy sources are slowly replacing coal, coal still accounts for a sizable amount of energy production worldwide.
Second, advocacy groups like the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) are doing their part to make coal more appealing. ACCCE has supported research into cleaner and more efficient coal technology, as well as helping to educate the public on the importance of coal in the energy landscape. Also, industry groups have invested in public services to raise the coal industry’s profile and improve coal’s status in public opinion.
- National coal production companies
- Advocacy groups
- Industry groups
4. An Uncertain Future for Coal
In recent years, coal has been on the decline in terms of usage and production as more and more countries shift towards renewable energy solutions. Many governments are investing in greener sources as a way to meet their commitments to reducing emissions.
The future of coal remains uncertain, yet some predictions have been made. The International Energy Agency has suggested that in the next five years, coal production could decrease by 12%. Other sources believe that its share of global energy may drop to 18%, a 5% decrease from what it was in 2019. The uncertainty lies in the efficiency and effectiveness of replacing coal with other forms of energy.
- Can renewables be scaled up quickly enough?
- Will market volatility make renewable energy too expensive?
- Will coal be able to recover its market share back?
All of these remain to be seen and will impact the future of coal significantly.
The coal industry has managed to stay alive even in the face of environmental regulations, technological advances, and the rise of renewable energy sources. Despite the hurdles, coal has held its own due to innovation and resiliency. As long as the demand for coal continues, the industry will find ways to innovate and remain relevant.