If you think King Coal is dead, think again …

● By Mike Sandiford, University of Melbourne, Australia ● If you are like me, and concerned about the possibility that rising CO₂ levels in the atmosphere are jeopardising climate stability, the latest BP Statistical Review of World Energy makes for sobering reading. BP’s Statistical Review provides a comprehensive update on energy resource production and consumption by country, region and the world. In the latest update released mid June, BP estimates that global energy consumption grew by 2.5% in 2011. That is pretty much in keeping with the long-term trend, so nothing exceptional in that. However, the figures on coal production are truly mind-boggling. BP estimates that in 2011 global coal production increased by an extraordinary 440 million tonnes. In absolute terms, that is the biggest annual increase on record. At 6% over the year, it comes on top of a 5% increase in 2010, and tops off what has been a phenomenal 10-year increase in annual production of almost 3 billion tonnes at an annual average growth rate of 4.6%. In 2011 global coal production was 7.7 billion tonnes. To put that in context, it is only slightly less than the amount of rock moved from mountain to sea each year over geological time by rivers and glaciers. In energy terms it is equivalent to almost 4 billion barrels of oil. On an energy basis, oil only just edged out coal as king of the energy resources by the equivalent of 40 million barrels, or about 4 days of production. But with oil production growing at only about 1% last year, coal is set to surpass it as the most important energy commodity sometime this year. In fact, it probably has already. This marks a phenomenal turn around for the fortunes of coal. Coal first replaced bioenergy as king of energy resources in the late 19th century. In 1966 it was displaced by oil. Relatively speaking, coal then headed rapidly south. Between 1989 and 1993 coal production actually declined in real terms ...Zum vollständigen Artikel


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