There are three major reasons why coal remains the number one choice for electricity production in most countries: energy security, cost, and climate change. Read on to learn more about these and other factors. Lastly, learn about the future of coal production in India. Read this to understand why coal is still the number one choice for electricity production in India. It’s also important to consider the livelihood of coal miners, as their labor is often the first cost of producing electricity.
The policy and market factors impact energy mix. This refers to the availability and affordability of different energy sources. Domestic resources have many advantages because they are cheaper and do not depend on the bargaining power of other countries. In developing countries, coal is the number one choice for electricity production, and for good reasons. Energy security is essential for developing nations. Despite a declining global demand for coal, many countries remain dependent on coal for electricity generation.
The primary benefit of coal is its affordability and easy transportability. It is easy to transport and store, which makes it a good source of energy for developing countries. It is also cheap to produce, so it has a distinct advantage over other energy sources. And even though coal produces more pollution than other forms of energy, it is affordable and easily transportable. It is also a green energy source that does not need high-pressure pipelines or dedicated supply routes.
While coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel in the world, it is also the least expensive. It produces CO2 emissions with negative externalities, including local air pollution and global climate effects. Despite its environmental impacts, it still remains the number one choice for electricity production in most countries. In fact, 2018 was a record year for coal emissions. In addition, multiple outlooks predict stable global coal consumption into the next several decades.
Despite a growing concern about climate change and other environmental issues, coal remains the world’s number one source of electricity. China, for example, has a coal shortage that is prompting some cities to limit their local power consumption. China has also set ambitious targets to reduce its use of coal by 20% by 2025. However, falling renewable energy prices aren’t enough to prompt a major shift in the industry.
Even though the U.S. remains the world’s third largest consumer of coal, it has closed a quarter of its capacity over the past decade and another quarter is slated to close by 2030. The International Energy Agency (IAEA) has mapped out a path to zero carbon emissions in the rich and developing world by the year 2050. Scotland’s coal phaseout signed earlier this year echoes this projection.
Developing nations have already announced a plan to transition from coal to other sources. The Asian Development Bank will provide two funds: one to accelerate the retirement of existing plants and another to finance the transition to clean energy. If implemented, this plan will reduce CO2 emissions by 200 million tons per year. In 2017, Indonesia’s total emissions were 589 million tons. While governments are a major driver in the transition to clean energy, the global market also is.
The cost of coal for producing electricity in most countries is high. In the past decade, it has decreased by 32 percent. However, this decline was primarily due to the fracking boom and not a longer-term trend. In contrast, the cost of coal for producing electricity has remained fairly stable over this period. Coal’s increased cost is not the only cause of the high cost of coal-fired electricity. Pollution and premature human deaths are other significant external costs.
Coal infrastructure is becoming increasingly outdated. Clean air regulations and declining electricity prices are two factors influencing the price of coal. According to OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria, governments should rethink their role in energy supply and evaluate the true costs of coal. The current pricing of coal for electricity fails to take into account the health and environmental costs of coal-fired electricity generation. Therefore, it is likely that many coal plants will have to close before their economic lifespan is over.
Coal is a valuable natural resource. It is the second largest primary energy source in the world and is located close to markets. Coal reserves in the U.S. are the highest in the world, with more than 260 billion tons. As of 2019, coal accounted for 27% of world primary energy consumption and 36.4% of global electricity generation. In addition to being an abundant resource, coal’s lower cost makes it an attractive option for many countries.
India’s coal production
Coal is an important source of energy for India and the global economy, but the decline of the coal industry is also affecting the lives of the country’s workers. The state of Jharkhand, for example, has a coal industry that provides about 300,000 direct jobs and over one million indirect ones through coal supply chains. In addition, several million people are employed as illegal coal miners, mostly locals who scavenge coal from abandoned mines. In fact, illegal miners make up about 10% of the state’s workforce.
While the country is making progress in its transition away from fossil fuels to cleaner forms of energy, experts warn that this will be a long process. The use of coal in the power sector in India could plateau over the next decade if economic growth is slow. Coal retirement may be too late. India still has over 200 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity and doesn’t have the luxury of phasing out coal-fired power plants by 2030.
Despite its vast coal reserves, India still relies heavily on imported coal to meet its electricity needs. In fact, coal is the number one fuel choice for most countries, but imported coal outpaces domestic coal production in coastal plants. Despite this, the country has been stressed on energy security and the need to produce its own energy. Although coal is a domestic resource, the country has many other resources and imports are expensive.
China’s power crunch
In the wake of the worst power shortages in a decade in China, many provinces have begun rationing electricity, which dampens the economy and disrupts everyday life. The shortages have also contributed to global supply chain disruptions. The shortages were triggered by soaring domestic coal demand, which was in turn battling the government’s restrictions on coal imports.
The first power outage was recorded in May, in Guangdong, a province known for its manufacturing industry. The power grid operator rationed electricity for business owners, citing hot weather and post-pandemic economic recovery. However, China’s leadership responded quickly to the “energy crisis”, focusing on coal’s role in producing electricity. In response, the government boosted coal production and stabilised prices.
The situation in China has also become more serious, with more than half the provinces rationing electricity. This has disrupted the daily lives of millions of citizens, as elevators and stores have been shut down and businesses have shortened their operating hours. Factory output growth has decreased to early 2020 levels, before the COVID-19 lockdown. Ultimately, these issues may lead to more serious economic problems and need to be addressed before they affect the country’s economy.
Although coal’s share of the world’s electricity has declined from 50 percent to under 30 percent over the last 15 years, the amount used for the production of electricity remains high, despite the falling price of natural gas. The UK, which derived 80 percent of its electricity from coal 60 years ago, is on track to be coal-free by 2025, when the largest power plant in the country switches to American wood pellets. Britain has seen its CO2 emissions fall to their lowest level in 120 years.
The relative costs of renewables and fossil fuels are rarely used in power sector planning. In fact, most countries have plenty of cheaper energy alternatives to coal, which can provide reliable power. They are also less damaging to human health and the environment. There is a cost-effective energy source for coal in most locations, though the best one may vary by location. This article will discuss the relative benefits of renewable energy over coal in many countries.
The decline of coal in the United States has been slowing for years, and will likely accelerate in the next fifteen to twenty years. In 2013, Georgia Power shut down ten coal units, generating 1,976 megawatts of electricity. In 2018, American Electric Power announced it would retire its coal-fired plant in Pennsylvania, and Talen Energy has recently decided to close down a coal-burning plant in Montana because it is no longer economically viable.
In The Political Fallout of Coal, Kirshner and Power focus on the impact of increased coal revenues on the political economy of Mozambique’s Tete province. The boom has resulted in new social and political structures geared toward transnational investment. The coal boom has produced both winners and losers: some groups have benefited from the global circuits of production while others have suffered displacement and dispossession.
In addition to the economic consequences, there has also been a political battle over the future of coal as a source of electricity. The UK government’s prime minister Boris Johnson has called on the countries to “consign coal to history” ahead of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland. But the reality of the negotiations at COP26 shows that “consigning coal to the past” isn’t going to be easy.
The international and local political fallout of coal are complicated by their relative positions within regional histories. The Global North and Global South have different histories of coal. The coal industry has historically close ties with states and other companies that deal in hydrocarbons. These close ties complicate efforts to transition away from incumbent carbon-based energy regimes. Therefore, an ethic of resistance is needed to prevent the coal industry from being replaced.