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May 01, 2007

The Global Boom in coal

The world is building a lot of coal-fired power to go with all of the coal-fired power it already has. This is horrible because air pollution from coal kills more than one million people every year. We need to use all other means to reduce the increase in coal usage, this means more nuclear as well as more renewables and more conservation.

Nations will add enough coal-fired capacity in the next five years to create an extra 1.2 billion tons of CO2 per year. China accounted for two-thirds of the more than 560 coal-fired power units built in 26 nations between 2002 and 2006. More than over 2 coal-fired power units each week between 2002 and 2006. The Chinese plants boosted annual world CO2 emissions by 740 million tons.

Germany, one of the renewable energy stars for subsidizing renewable energy by about 45 EU cents per kWh, is building 20 coal plants.

The United States is accelerating its buildup dramatically. In the past five years it built 2.7 gigawatts of new coal-fired generating capacity. But in the next five years, it is slated to add 37.7 gigawatts of capacity, enough to produce 247.8 million tons of CO2 per year, according to Platts. That would vault the US to second place –just ahead of India – in adding new capacity.

Even nations that have pledged to reduce global warming under the Kyoto treat are slated to accelerate their buildup of coal-fired plants. For example, eight EU nations – Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic – plan to add nearly 13 gigawatts of new coal-fired capacity by 2012. That's up from about 2.5 gigawatts over the past five years.

The world faces the prospect five years from now of having 7,474 coal-fired power plants in 79 countries pumping out 9 billion tons of CO2 emissions annually – out of 31 billion tons from all sources in 2012.

The US is planning to build more than 150 coal-fired power plants that don't sequester their emissions, according to the US Department of Energy



SOURCE: Platts/RICH CLABAUGH – STAFF

The most recent issue of Business week discusses the USA coal industry Peabody Energy Corp. (BTU ) Gregory H. Boyce, chief executive of the world's biggest coal company, is gambling that the threat of higher electric bills and brownouts will be enough to halt crippling federal regulation.

In a 2006 study, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. (AB ) analyst Hugh Wynne calculated that even with a relatively steep price for carbon emissions—say, $27 per ton, more than the price in Europe—coal-fired generation still beats gas by 30%. That suggests operators of new coal plants could buy all the carbon credits they need without resorting to costly CO2 capture technologies.

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