This working paper explores the rising importance of coal for satisfying surging global energy demand, considers the geopolitical implications of the effective use of coal, and highlights the potential role of the U.S. as a major coal supplier.
Coal is generally viewed as a “dirty” hydrocarbon and has been criticized by environmental NGOs and other groups. In reality, however, the effective use of coal is the only option to meet the surging energy demand that is needed for the sustainable growth of the world economy. Coal is more abundant, cheap, and widely distributed than oil and natural gas.
While developing environmentally friendly forms of energy consumption is undoubtedly important to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and air and water pollution, clean coal technologies have made steady progress and are increasingly commercially available. In addition to the environmental benefits of these technologies, the more efficient use of coal would reduce competition over other hydrocarbons (specifically, natural gas and oil) among energy-hungry nations.
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