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Coal Has Certainly Got a Future

By Steven E. Winberg, Former Assistant Secretary for DOE Office of Fossil Energy and Chair & CEO, Net-Negative CO2 Baseload Power Inc.

Steve Winberg

On March 3, 2000 Science News reported: “100 years ago, life was a constant struggle against disease, pollution, deforestation, treacherous working conditions, and enormous cultural divides unbreachable through current communications technologies.  By the end of the 20th century, the world had become a healthier, safer, and a more productive place, primarily because of engineering achievements”.  A few weeks earlier, astronaut and engineer Neil Armstrong had announced the National Academy of Engineering’s top 20 engineering achievements that had the greatest impact on quality of life in the 20th century; electrification was number one.  During the 20th century, the United States’ largest source of electricity was coal. 

Since 2000, the value of coal has continued to prove itself as an affordable, reliable source of electricity.  However, over the last 20 years, U.S. coal-based electricity has declined principally due to the significant drop in natural gas prices and environmental concerns.  At present, the focus of environmental concerns is climate change.  While these concerns have been advancing across developed countries, China and India have become a massive growth market for coal-to-electricity.  China and India are now by far the largest coal users with a combined population of almost 2.8 billion people.  Both are blessed with large coal reserves, and both import coal due to their large population and industry expansion on their coasts.  China and India remain under-developed, India particularly, with a large population yet to enjoy the benefits of modernity brought through affordable, reliable electricity.  Africa collectively has many countries, many people and abundant coal reserves.  At a total population of 1.4 billion, too many on the continent live in energy poverty, burning wood and dung and living shorter lives from indoor air pollution--all unheard of today in the industrialized west. 

In these three geographies, with a combined population that exceeds 4 billion people, as evidenced by the late changes seen at COP26, they have very little, if any, sentiment to give up coal in the name of CO2 emission avoidance.  Nonetheless, U.S. and European political leaders, representing small populations relatively speaking, demanded China, India, and Africa phase out coal and implicitly forgo part of their economic development – an economic development the U.S. and Europe have enjoyed.  Of course, they will not forgo their use of coal, and they made that clear at COP26.  Ironically, coal can play a major role supporting economic development, improving the quality of life, and meeting climate change goals.  What is this major role?  We call it Net-Negative CO2 Coal Technology.

Coal plus biomass used together as fuel in power plants equipped with carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) results in net-negative CO2 emissions.  The process is simple.  As biomass (trees and crops) grow, they absorb CO2.  When the biomass is burned at a power plant to make electricity, the otherwise emitted CO2 is captured.  The result is net-negative CO2 emissions from the power plant.  Net-negative CO2 coal technology is part of a path forward for 21st century electricity.  Also, net-negative CO2 coal technology can produce hydrogen, a CO2 emission-free energy source, which is getting global attention as a future fuel for electricity generation, industrial decarbonization and transportation.

To continue reading, click here to view the full article on CoalZoom.com. 

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COP26: Radicals Lose on Every Issue

The radical alarmists proposed a fistful of bad stuff during COP 26. A lot was in the surprise COP President’s proposed decision document on the last Wednesday, with just three days to go. See my https://www.cfact.org/2021/11/12/cop-26-with-bidens-help-the-cop-goes-wild/. Other ridiculous stuff was proposed by various country groups.

None of it make it whole into the final decision. Most just disappeared and what was left was rendered harmless.

Among the crazy proposals that happily went missing in action:

1. Halving emissions by 2030. Developing countries rightly called this carbon colonialism.

2. Developed countries paying reparations for developing countries’ bad weather losses and damages.

3. Aid payments to developing countries of $1.3 trillion a year beginning in 2025. This is up from the already promised $100 billion a year beginning 2020, which gas yet to appear.

4. Net zero emissions by mid century.

5. A tax on the sale of emission indulgences, the proceeds to go to (no surprise) developing countries.

To continue reading, click here to view the full article on CoalZoom.com.  

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You're Invited!

Join the Metallurgical Coal Producers Association as we hold our Fall Meeting and Awards Presentation on November 29 at 1:00PM. 

This will be an online/virtual event. For additional information or questions contact barb@metcoalproducers.com. 

To sign-up directly for the event, please click the button below and register through Zoom: 

 

 

 

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Met Coal Demand From Blast Furnaces Supported for Two-Three Decades

Hydrogen-based steelmaking is unlikely to displace blast furnace-based steelmaking for two to three decades, which will support demand for metallurgical coal during that period, miners and analysts said at the Financial Times Commodities Asia Summit this week.

Steel sector decarbonization will be lengthy, they said. Scrap supplies are insufficient for a large scale shift to electric arc furnace-based steelmaking - which is less carbon-intensive than blast-furnace based production - green hydrogen continues uncompetitive as a steelmaking input, and green steel may cost 20%-30% more to produce than conventional steel.

Steelmaking typically accounts for 9%-10% of global carbon emissions, although these can be higher in some countries, including China.

"It's hard to see any big displacement of coking coal by hydrogen for at least two decades," Ernie Thrasher, CEO of US marketing and logistics company XCoal Energy & Resources, told the virtual event. "If you look at the global supply of scrap and metallic units, the future of the blast furnace seems to be strong for two-three decades. As the steel industry tries to reduce carbon emissions using electric arc furnaces, the issue is where the power comes from and metallic units originate."

Jim North, interim CEO of Ferrexpo, an iron ore pellet producer in Ukraine, said he doesn't believe the steel industry can fund the transition away from blast furnaces and coal within at least two decades and needs to transition to using direct-reduced iron pellets in the shorter term as it decarbonizes. "It's early days [for hydrogen use in steelmaking]" he said.

CRU senior coal analyst Dmitry Popov agreed with a 20- to 30-year timeline for phasing out coal due to high use in nations including China and India.

To continue reading, click here to view the full article on CoalZoom.com. 

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