Monday, June 22, 2009

UW Prof says King Coal retains his crown

A professor from a coal state's only four-year university has conducted a study funded by the state mining association on the economics of coal mining in the part of the state that depends the most on coal revenue.

Guess what the prof discovered? Coal mining is good.

According to an AP story:

Wyoming's Powder River Basin coal will be an essential part of the nation's energy future even as the country moves toward cleaner power sources, a University of Wyoming professor who studies energy economics says. "The point I'm trying to raise is to think of PRB coal as a strategic asset for the country rather than a liability as many believe because of the CO2 problem," professor Tim Considine said.

Considine's study determined that PRB coal keeps the cost of producing electricity low because it's cheaper than wind, solar and nuclear sources and less volatile than natural gas."If you look at the true cost of wind power and solar power, it's way up there," he said. "So there's a huge gap between the marginal cost of electricity from solar and wind and coal.

As society eventually comes to grips with the real costs of restraining carbon dioxide emissions, the value of PRB coal will be appreciated and embraced to maintain political support for costly experiments with carbon-free energy," Considine's report said.

He likened the events unfolding in energy to a horse race."There's a coal horse, and a nuke horse, and a wind horse and a solar horse and they're all racing, and I don't think coal is going to pull up lame or break a leg and not make the race," Considine said. "It'll be in the mix."

His conclusions make sense. Coal will be in the mix for a long time because there's a lot of it even though it seems as if "Mr. Peabody's coal train has hauled it (all) away." Not quite. The big shovels continue to dig it out and the trains are still rolling to the power plants across the U.S. -- and into China. Actually, a ship has to carry it part of the way. The railroads and shipping lines and the makers of huge open-pit coal mining equipment depend on coal. The politicians depend on the coal company money. Almost everyone benefits from this cozy arrangement. Except Mother Earth.

Did I mention coal royalties pay part of my salary as a state employee? Full disclosure. My carbon footprint is a lot bigger than I thought.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow coal mining is very good..........!!!!!!!

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