Why There Will Be No Peak Coal in the Foreseeable Future


Hard coal and lignite—also referred to here jointly as coal—play a central role in the worldwide supply of humanity with primary energy. As a fossil energy carrier, coal is one of the finite natural resources. The reach of the world’s coal reserves is significant, and coal has the potential to cover some of the global energy and raw-material needs at least into the 22nd century. Precondition for this is a sustainable energy policy, i.e. an equal-ranking view of the goals of environmental and climate compatibility (sustainability), security of supply and competitiveness (affordability). The focus of developments is on resource efficiency and energy savings to obtain more modern and more efficient coal-based power plants. Greater use of coal translates into higher CO2 emissions. So if we are to achieve the climate-protection goals of limiting the rise in temperatures and reducing the CO2 content in the Earth’s atmosphere, the launch of CCS technology is recommended. Within the scope of the climate-protection debate, a discussion is also underway about an alleged drying up of coal availability in the short term (under the heading of “peak coal”). This discussion is an example of how, from the limited perspective of particular interests, a swathe of facts can be ignored. Hence, this article sets out to take a fact-based, sober look at the subject of the “reach of global coal reserves”. How much coal do we really have? And to what extent will coal be available tomorrow to guarantee secure and affordable energy supplies in the future as well? These issues will be investigated here.

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T. Thielemann and H. Schiffer, "Why There Will Be No Peak Coal in the Foreseeable Future," Open Journal of Geology, Vol. 2 No. 2, 2012, pp. 57-64. doi: 10.4236/ojg.2012.22006.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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