This month, Energy
Central’s featured writer poses another inconvenient truth: we need coal as part of America’s energy solution.
Mark Gabriel, an executive management consultant for R.W.
Beck, carefully lays out the need for America’s coal by looking at our
projected energy demand alongside our means of meeting it, citing a recent
report from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation that shows that
six of 10 U.S. regions will have insufficient electricity capacity by 2009. Says
Gabriel: “No amount of alternative energy can meet the needs in the next 10 to
15 years, even if some huge hurdles such as energy storage are achieved.”
Need a visual? Take a look at this graph, using figures from the EIA’s 2007 Annual Energy Outlook:
Energy Information Administration 2007 Annual Energy Outlook
Electricity demand is expected to increase in the U.S. by 1.7% per year
through 2030 requiring an increase in generating capacity of roughly 30%.
On top of
the cold, hard facts, Gabriel delivers a dose of harsh reality for politicians
and coal opponents:
The current aversion to coal is another clear example that politicians
and the public do not recognize the complex nature of our energy enterprise,
its critical nature and fragility. More than 30 coal plants were canceled or
delayed in the U.S. in 2007 at a time when electricity demand was rising making
the total number of canceled or delayed plants over the past two years to 52.
[T]hese cancellations are
rationalized through the mistaken belief that energy efficiency and renewables
can supplant the baseload generation provided by coal and nuclear as well as an
unrealistic reliance on natural gas, which again topped $10 a million cubic
feet in early April, up from $3 just three years ago.
Gabriel’s article underscores the point we’ve been making
all along: coal needs to be part of the energy conversation. It’s our most
abundant, affordable resource and we couldn’t run the country without it. The
sooner we stop making coal part of the problem and get on board with making it
part of the solution, the sooner we’ll get cleaner technologies to market and
reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources.