Peak coal: the end of coal is soon
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Bert Stoop
We will be graceful afterwards we were compelled by the end of oil and coal reserves to hasten to bring energy efficiency technologies and energy saving measures into practice and to develop renewable energy sooner and better.

Peak coal: the end of coal is soon and be happy

Energy Policies have to be changed drastically


Beside the threat of peak oil to our energy wasting societies, it now becomes clear that coal reserves too will come to an earlier end than most thought.

According to new research [1], coal reserves are much smaller than was hitherto generally assumed. Demand for coal has increased 35% from 2000 to 2006 and due to the higher oil prices, coal prices too are much higher than just a few years before. In 6 years coal prices have soared up to five times the 2000 price. And more is to come.

The present prognosis for 2030 is a 75% increase in demand for coal.

At that rate, the peak production of coal will be reached by 2015. Coal reserves will be exhausted around 2050. Only recently, global coal reserves were estimated to last for at least 2 centuries more. How come this has changed so fast.

The new research shows hat estimates of most national reserves were much too high. Many estimates of reserves remained the same over decades, in spite of increased production. Also there were many countries that gave estimates of all coal in the ground, no matter or they could be mined or not.

A country as China has already become a net coal importer, due to its building a new coal power plant every week. This was not seen as possible only a few years ago.

It is expected that coal production will not be much higher in coming years, because coal production is already at a maximum in the main coal producing countries.

Power plants all over the world depend largely on coal and it was assumed this would stay so for at least a century or two.

If this be true, it will have a large impact on energy policies all over the world.

Until now it was assumed that by 2050 renewable energies would contribute about 50% to global energy demand. The other half would have to come from fossil fuels, mostly coal, and some 5% nuclear energy.

But what if there is no oil, no coal at that time?

Nuclear canít replace those fossil fuels, there simply is not enough uranium.

So the only conclusion is the other half has to come from renewable energy sources and  from more energy efficiency and energy saving measures.

The big question is: can this be done in so short a time.

Worldwide the present share of renewable energy is less than 10%.

Possible it is, as I will show.


Energy efficiency: factor four

It is known by energy experts that almost each energy consuming sector can slash its energy consumption by a factor two to six. Some examples.

  • Take electricity production. Nowadays, the average energy efficiency of power plants is merely 30%. With combined heat and power plants, efficiency can be raised to 85-95 percent.
    Power plants consume about 21% of all energy. Net reduction of energy use by 2050: 14%
  • Industry. The use of existing and new technologies can save 75% of all energy now used by this sector, which stands presently at 32% of all energy [excluding car producers].
    Net energy reduction by 2050: 24%
  • Take cars, they now consume 1 litre gasoline per 12 km. This can be raised easily to 1 litre per 50 km by 2030 and to 1: 80 by 2050.Volkswagen produced a prototype that run 1:100 already some years ago. Net energy reduction: 15% by 2050.
  • Buildings use presently about 30% of all energy. But since decades  zero-energy buildings are possible. When you start now everywhere to build only zero-energy buildings, you will save 30% of total energy consumption by 2050.


Just doing this will save 80% of present energy consumption. That will do.


Yes, I know, it is widely estimated that energy consumption will rise at least 50% by 2050. But it is also true that new technologies, when used, will be able to keep energy consumption at the present level, especially when energy prices will rise further as they are expected to do.

The conclusion being that we can do almost without fossil fuels by 2050, if and when we develop renewable energy sources at the same time.



All renewable energy sources combined [hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, biomass] will easily contribute the other 20 or so percent. A country like Sweden has reached a 40% percent share of renewables. But not each and every country has as much renewable energy sources within its borders. While installing large scale Concentrated Solar Power [CSP] plants in the tropics and subtropics, financed by the oil exporting countries mostly to replace their oil revenues, there is time to develop and produce commercial solar cells with much higher efficiency, up to 50% compared by 15% right now. By then, about 2030, in all countries except the Nordic ones, each house and building will be able to produce its own energy.



We will be graceful afterwards we were compelled by the end of oil and coal reserves to hasten to bring energy efficiency technologies and energy saving measures into practice and to develop renewable energy sooner and better.

Especially as we will see that climate has changed less than we were afraid  of.

Enough to give trouble, not enough to destroy nature and humans.

Gebruikte steekwoorden
peak coal, renewable energy
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