The future of coal in Europe
By David LebowitzThe following article first appeared on Next Big Futures.
A new report from the US-based Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that, on average, the US will have enough coal in its energy mix to power nearly all of Europe’s population in 2050.
In the US, that means we will have nearly twice as much coal as we did in 2010.
The report, released today, found that US coal production will grow from 1.7 billion metric tons in 2020 to 3.5 billion metric ton by 2035.
The report also projects that coal will continue to make up roughly two-thirds of the nation’s electricity generation by 2050.
While the report notes that coal’s share of the US energy mix is likely to grow further, its overall impact on emissions will remain fairly stable.
The EIA report comes at a time of rising global temperatures, an increase in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, and a slowing of global growth.
The agency expects that global coal production to decline in coming years, and coal use will likely fall in the coming decades.
The impact of these trends on climate change will largely depend on how quickly coal is displaced by natural gas and renewables.
According to the EIA, the combined emissions of CO2 and methane from coal will increase by almost 6 million metric tons by 2040, and natural gas alone will increase the emissions by over 2.5 million metric ton.
This is because natural gas emits far less carbon dioxide per unit of energy than coal, and the EAA projects that methane emissions will drop by almost a quarter by 2036.
The agency says this is because methane leaks are much more common in natural gas, which releases methane gas that traps more heat than CO2, and it also takes less time for methane to be released from wells.
The rapid rise of renewable energy in the US and Europe will also have an impact on the US coal sector.
The study notes that, while the US is unlikely to overtake China’s coal consumption, its carbon footprint will likely increase, with emissions growing by over 20% in 2030.
The United States is already the world’s largest producer of coal, but the EOA says that China’s growing coal consumption is now expected to cause the United States to overtake the European Union and India as the world leader in coal production.
Meanwhile, as the US transition from fossil fuels to renewables continues, the EPA predicts that Europe will experience an increase of over 300 million metric tonnes of CO 2 by 2050, with India and India’s coal-fired power plants projected to increase in their emissions by more than 300 million tons.
Europe is also the largest emitter of CO²-39, a greenhouse gas that causes respiratory illnesses in children.