The Energy Information Administration recently stated that electricity
use would grow by 1.1 percent per year through 2030 – down from the 1.5
percent per year increase it predicted last year. Some anti-coal
activists have used this data – along with some fuzzy math – to
speculate that America won’t need new coal-based power plants in the
They couldn’t be more wrong.
Granted, gains in energy efficiency may be slightly changing the slope
of the demand curve and we see that in the EIA forecasts. But that
said, by all accounts America’s electricity demands are increasing.
Moreover, new advanced coal-based power plants can replace older, less
efficient units when those plants are due to be taken out of operation.
Meeting America’s future electricity needs will include a variety of
fuel resources … including coal. Coal is a domestically-abundant energy
resource, and as we’ve stated on this site before, fuels like solar and wind are not replacements for coal.
So the question isn’t whether we’ll use coal (we will), the question is HOW we’ll use coal (and the answer there is cleanly!).
For that reason, we need to be sure we keep putting dollars into
funding clean coal technology research. With the right investments in
technology, coal will help power America through the 21st century and
it will do so with what we term ultra-low emissions (zero emissions of
pollutants regulated by federal and state clean air laws and the
capture and storage of CO2).
That is a pretty big goal, but that is what we mean when we say that this industry has made a commitment to clean.