The Future of Energy Is Still . . . Coal

Renewable energy, along with unicorn flop sweat, Al Gore’s organic gasses, and moonbeams always get the ink for the “future of energy.” And don’t forget how Tom Friedman and others like to remind us that China is going to overtake the U.S. as a “clean energy leader” because Trump dumped the Paris Climate Accord (thereby causing Hurricane Harvey in the process).

Turns out if you look close you find out two things. First, in 1990, 88 percent of the world’s energy came from fossil fuels. After more than 25 years and over a trillion dollars in subsidies for “renewable” energy, in 2015 the world’s share of energy from fossil fuels was . . . 86 percent. (See figure immediately below.) At this rate, it will take 150 years to get fossil fuel energy down to 75 percent of the world’s total energy supply. I’m sure just $200 trillion in subsidies will do the trick.

Second, where is most of new energy supply for the developing world (including China) coming from? Here are two recent headlines—first from the Wall Street Journal today:

Big Name in Coal’s Resurgence: China

China’s reemergence as a coal importer has boosted the fortunes of U.S. producers who are now shipping more coal abroad than any time in the last two years. . .

Industry leaders say that good fortune has been backed up by a change of sentiment led by Mr. Trump. Business would have been worse and future prospects would be lower under a Democratic administration that used new rules to move consumers further away from coal, they said.

And now from India:

Coal to Remain India’s Main Energy Source in Coming Decades: Gov’t Think Tank

Coal, which powers around three-quarters of India’s electricity, will continue to be the foremost energy source over the coming decades, government think-tank Niti Aayog said in its Three-Year Action Agenda released Thursday.

It is important that India increases its domestic coal production to provide energy security and reduce its dependence on imports, it said.

By 2019, the government will explore 25% of the untapped 5,100 sq km coal bearing area to ensure availability of more coal mining blocks, it said.

There will also be efforts to convert 25% of the 139.15 billion mt of coal reserves that were in the ‘indicated’ category as of March 31, 2016 into the ‘proved’ category by offering top exploration companies attractive contract provisions, the report said.

So much winning.

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