Coal – 8.5 Billion Tons

China burns 4.6 of the 8.5 billion tons of coal used annually!

China burns 4.6 of the 8.5 billion tons of coal used annually!

Picture from Worldcoal.org a good source for more information on coal.

That’s right, the total coal burned annually is 8.5 billion tons. Let that sink in for just a moment. That is a lot of coal! China is the biggest consumer of coal and gets about 60% of their total energy from coal, not just their electricity. Electricity is usually about a third of a nation’s energy mix. Right now, China is building an additional 180 coal plants of the more than 360 being built. Around the world, there are hundreds more in the pipeline, in the pre-permit and permit process as well hundreds more in planning.

The United States gets just 11% of our total power from coal and it has been rapidly replaced largely by lower cost natural gas. Environmental regulations increased the cost of coal at the same time natural gas supplies skyrocketed. That is why the U.S. is one of the very few countries to lower our CO2 and other pollution output. Because of fracking, oil and natural gas is more plentiful now than ever. BTW, in the U.S. the air we breathe, the lakes, rivers and streams have never been cleaner in the last 50 years than they are now.

Fun Fact: The experts were predicting we would run out of oil. Boy where they wrong.

Coal usage in Asia and Africa is growing. And it will continue to grow into the future. China’s Paris Accord voluntary commitment is to continue to grow their CO2 output until 2030 at least. Then somehow get to net zero by 2060. Really?

Because there is tremendous need for electrification in Africa and many places in Asia. Coal usage is going to continue to grow. Coal is available in most of these countries and provides excellent low-cost base electrical power. Coal means economic development for the people it serves and their economies.

Reliable abundant affordable electricity does wonders for people’s ability to get ahead. It frees women to do other work because of the many household duties that get so much easier with electrification and the right tools and appliances. For this you need an electric grid.

To work, electrical grids need to stay in balance. Electrons on have to equal electrons off. If the grid become unbalanced, it will trip breakers, just like our homes, and will shut down. Starting an electric grip up takes time and is a process. Coal, natural gas, hydro and nuclear all supply base power. Natural gas is best for turning up and down the heat for electricity generation.

Natural gas is what is needed with solar and wind for electric generation. Because, like our gas stoves, it is easy to turn up and down as needed. Because frequently the wind doesn’t blow, and the sun doesn’t shine. When that happens, there is no electricity being generated. Without natural gas or another source, the electric grid would then shut down.

Coal is burned far cleaner today than it has ever been in the past. We have found ways to reduce the pollution emissions of all sorts. Yet, coal produces more CO2 than all other sources of energy, which is important to some because they believe that CO2 is the control knob of our world’s climate. And there is too much CO2 in the atmosphere, at 410 parts per million (ppm). So, these people are against coal and all fossil fuels.

I just wanted you to know that the world uses 8.5 billion tons of coal every year and even as the west is de-coaling, Africa and Asia are greatly increasing their coal use. So, coal usage is only going to grow in the future. Whether we in the west like it or not.

If you believe that CO2 is a problem, shouldn’t the focus be on Africa and China?