Competitive Position of Coal for Power Generation
AUTHOR: Gordon R. Couch
DATE: May 2004
This report focuses on the competitiveness of coal in power production and considers the factors that may affect coal use. It is based on the use of examples and data taken from around the world, which can suggest how the situation may develop over the medium term. Political considerations may affect the security and price of energy supplies. The challenges associated with action to mitigate the possible "greenhouse effect" and any resultant change, together with the effects of changes in the energy markets in many countries are discussed. Both supply and demand projections for fuel use are based on IEA figures quoted in World Energy Outlook 2002. Factors that may affect the projections such as environmental pressures, geopolitical impacts, unexpected technical advances, and the effects of structural changes to the markets are discussed. The interactions and interrelationships between the variables are extremely complex, and the situation is different in different parts of the world. The report discusses the state of development and availability of both coal and of alternative energy sources for power production. The sources include:
- other fossil fuels (gas and oil);
- renewables, with hydro making the largest contribution. Biomass; wind; solar; wave; tidal and geothermal sources all have a role;
- nuclear fission, which is a well established source. The control and use of nuclear fusion is being assessed as a possible long-term contributor.
Both the potential and the limitations of each possible energy source are discussed in the context of providing a viable supply of electricity. Examples are taken from different parts of the world, and these are intended to illustrate some of the varied responses which are necessary. They are based on different demand requirements, energy sources and on differing regulatory frameworks.