Coal Exports: Global Demand for Energy Rises

By March 20, 2008Energy, General, Global Warming

The New York Times leads its business section Wednesday with a story about the rising global demand for coal.

And today’s The Washington Post puts the same basic story on page one, “Coal Can’t Fill World’s Burning Appetite…With Supplies Short, Price Rise Surpasses Oil and U.S. Exporters Profit“:

Big swings in the prices of coal and other commodities are common. But while the price of coal has slipped slightly in recent weeks, many analysts and companies are wondering whether high prices are here to stay. As increasing numbers of the world’s poor join the middle classes, hooking up to electricity grids and buying up more manufactured goods, demand for coal grows. World consumption of coal has grown 30 percent in the past six years, twice as much as any other energy source. About two-thirds of the fuel supplies electricity plants, and just under a third heads to industrial users, mostly steel and concrete makers.

Meeting rising demand will prove difficult. To maintain its role as the world’s producer of last resort, the United States will need to make major investments in mines, railways and ports.

“We think the current world markets have legs,” said Thomas F. Hoffman, senior vice president of external affairs at Consol Energy, one of the biggest U.S. coal producers.

It’s a heck of a story. Consider the trade angle: “The value of coal exports, which account for 2.5 percent of all U.S. exports, grew by 19 percent last year, to $4.1 billion, the National Mining Association said. An even bigger increase is expected this year.”

New York Times. Washington Post. The TV networks should have the story on the evening news next week.

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