Fresh technology developed in Japan may be about to swing the global energy pendulum back toward coal, by turning the old fossil fuel into a much cleaner energy source. With India and other emerging economies expected to increase their use of the still-abundant black rock, the new technology could help keep their carbon dioxide emissions in check. The plant “is 30% more efficient in power generation than the most advanced coal-fired power generation plant in Japan and reduces the generation of CO2 by 30%,” Kenji Aiso, president of Osaki CoolGen, said. Compared with typical coal-fired power plants in the world, the demonstration plant cuts the emission of CO2 per power output by about 40%. –Ken Sakakibara, Nikkei Asian Review, 6 June 2017
The number of new-generation coal projects could increase if US President Donald Trump delivers on his pledge to lift restrictions on US agencies funding new coal plants in other parts of the world. Trump has highlighted gas and clean coal as the backbone of his energy policies, designed to reduce costs for manufacturing and break the US dependence on oil supplies from the Middle East. The new-generation, high-efficiency coal plants produce half the carbon dioxide emissions of existing ones, making them comparable with gas. The Minerals Council of Australia says there are more than 725 high-efficiency, low-emissions plants already in operation in East Asia alone. A further 1100 plants are under construction or in the pipeline. –Graham Lloyd, The Australian, 25 January 2017
State-run Coal India Ltd, saddled with millions of tonnes of unsold coal, is expected to be the biggest beneficiary of a controversial government decision to more than halve the local sales tax on the fuel after a jump in local supplies. The world’s third-largest greenhouse gas emitting country said last Friday it would lower the duty on domestic coal from July 1 and impose a new 18 percent tax on solar cells and modules as part of a broader tax overhaul. —Reuters, 25 May 2017
The amount of much coal that exists in the United States is difficult to estimate because it is buried underground. Total resources is EIA’s best estimate of the total amount of coal (including undiscovered coal) in the United States. Total resources are estimated to be about 3.9 trillion short tons. Estimated recoverable reserves include only the coal that can be mined with today’s mining technology after considering accessibility constraints and recovery factors. EIA estimates that the United States has 254.9 billion short tons of recoverable coal reserves. Based on U.S. coal production in 2015 of about 0.9 billion short tons, the U.S. estimated recoverable coal reserves would last about 283 years. —U.S. Energy Information Administration
The United States remained the world’s top producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons in 2016 for the fifth straight year despite production declines for both petroleum and natural gas relative to their 2015 levels. The United States has been the world’s top producer of natural gas since 2009, when U.S. natural gas production surpassed that of Russia, and it has been the world’s top producer of petroleum hydrocarbons since 2013, when its production exceeded Saudi Arabia’s. —U.S. Energy Information Administration, 7 June 2017
A study by scientists at the University of Aberdeen has found that invertebrate life in the deep Arctic Ocean is more resilient to the effects of climate change than previously thought. The shrinking sea ice cover in the Arctic has led to fears that the associated loss of ice algae – tiny algae growing in large numbers in and under the ice – would pose a serious risk to deep sea invertebrates such as clams, crustaceans and polychaete worms, that rely on them as an important food source. However, research carried out in the Canadian Arctic has found that the creatures will happily feed on phytoplankton as an alternative food source, despite previous research suggesting a preference for ice algae. “Our research shows that Arctic deep sea animals are more resilient to changes in their food supply than previously thought – an unexpected finding that suggests they are adaptable to the challenges imposed by climate change.” —University of Aberdeen, 6 June 2017
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