When discussing the future availability of fossil energy resources, conventional knowledge has it that globally there is an abundance of coal which allows for increasing coal consumption far into the future. This is either regarded as being a good thing as coal can be a possible substitute for the declining crude oil and natural gas supplies or it is seen as a horror scenario leading to catastrophic consequences for the world’s climate.
But the discussion rarely focuses on the premise: how much coal is there really? This paper attempts to give a comprehensive view of global coal resources and past and current coal production based on a critical analysis of available statistics. This analysis is then used to provide an outlook on the possible coal production in the coming decades. The result of the analysis is that there is probably much less coal left to be burnt than most people think.
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