“Coal Growing Its Share Of Global Energy Mix Despite World’s Greening Efforts” – IBTimes, 20 June 2014

Although natural gas has become the US’s go-to energy source, and both Europe and the US are bringing the proverbial hammer down on greenhouse gas emissions, coal is still in wide-use worldwide. China and India are the main culprits; since both countries are continuing to grow, they continue to use coal, since it’s one of the cheapest and most plentiful sources of energy. Together, the two countries are the reason coal consumption saw a three percent increase in 2013. Use of natural gas only rose in North America, while it fell everywhere else.

via IBTimes

via IBTimes

Though developed nations will continue to replace coal with renewable and cleaner energy sources, developing countries will continue to rely on coal, as coal will likely remain inexpensive and abundant.

While coal fulfilled 30.1 percent of the world’s energy needs in 2013, oil met 32.9 percent. The US invested a lot of time and money in fracking shale formations, which led to one of the biggest bouts of oil generation that we’ve seen.

But coal could still win the energy battle. In 2012, the International Energy Agency predicted that yearly worldwide consumption of coal would increase by 1.2 billion tons, making it the number one energy source in the world.

New climate policies by the US and Europe are bound to take a toll on the future of coal. Coal will become reliant on China, and even China is making an effort to decrease pollution and smog and use natural gas instead of coal.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

June 30, 2014

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“White House touts energy policies as rules loom” – Associated Press, 30 May 2014

With continued backlash, President Obama is still trying to sell the US on his new energy policy and attempting to showcase the regulations as economically advantageous through job creation, cleaner energy sources, and protection of the US against foreign turmoil. In a 42-page report to be released on Thursday, the White House contends that the US’s natural gas boon is both economically and environmentally beneficial.

The report’s purpose is to counteract the disapproval of the EPA‘s new regulations on coal-fired power plants, which many expect will inflate electricity costs, thwart job growth, and impede economic prosperity. Conservatives and their allies believe that reducing emissions won’t actually aid the environment, and only become a hinderance to the economy.

The White House reports argues that increased domestic energy production, wind and solar power, and decreased dependency on oil have largely bolstered the security of US energy and the economy, and speak directly to the impacts of climate change by reducing carbon emissions.

The US’s upswing in natural gas safeguards the economy, and everyone’s pockets, if oil-producing countries undergo turmoil and cause oil prices to skyrocket. If we continue to produce energy sources domestically, then the US reaps the benefits—that means more money and more jobs.

Regardless, the US is still the number one consumer and importer of oil. The advent of natural gas hasn’t been embraced by everyone—the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock presents some unease with many environmental groups. The decline in oil consumption started in 2006, though that fall is ascribed to the recession. At the same time, natural gas consumption has increased by 18% since 2005.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

May 30, 2014

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“Imagining Coal Without Air Pollution” – Wall Street Journal, 8 January 2014

While many countries have been working together to reach global environmental goals—such as reducing emissions and increasing use of renewable energies—it often seems like China hasn’t gotten the memo. Due to a growing population, and thus a growing demand for energy, China is the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide emissions. Over the last few months, many of China’s major cities have had issues with smog—a product of coal-burning power plants—and citizens have been forced to wear face masks.

The US faced similar problems with smog in the late 1960′s and 1970′s, which inspired the formation of the EPA and passed the Clean Air Act. Since then, US electricity utilities reduced sulfur dioxide emissions by over 80% and nitrogen oxides by over 75%, using lower-sulfur coal found in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. Now that the government and utilities have successfully kept those emission levels down, they are tackling mercury and greenhouse gas emissions, which means new environmental regulations. As a result, many of the US’s coal-burning power plants will close, since upgrading the plants’ equipment isn’t profitable. Moreover, natural gas releases half the carbon dioxide emissions of coal, and natural gas costs have plunged since 2009.

New regulations on mercury has the potential to reduce emissions by almost 90% and cause more power plants to shut their doors. The EPA is handling greenhouse gas emissions, like carbon dioxide, by introducing regulations that will more or less disallow utilities to build new coal-burning power plants. The EPA is set to propose new standards for existing power plants and guidelines on greenhouse gas emission levels.

Scientists are trying to find a way to prevent carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal, as well as studying the method of cleaning coal prior to combustion. Both have proved costly, though countries with more access to coal and less to natural gas—like China, Pakistan, Indonesia and Australia—have expressed interest in these technologies.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

March 21, 2014

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“EU Climate Targets to Stop Short of Ambitions” – Wall Street Journal, 16 January 2014

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Wall Street Journal

The European Union’s economic downturn actually helped its 28 member states reduce their carbon emissions; however, the EU is still lagging behind on its proposed climate goals. Following a global climate change agreement, the EU’s main goals were to cut carbon dioxide emissions and increase renewable energy use, like wind and solar power. These targets were set to help the EU reach its pledge to curb its CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050.

There is more concern for the downturn rather than the EU’s environmental goals. The union’s 28 governments have also constantly butted heads on the proposed climate policy targets.

The European Commission presented the EU’s climate change targets. While some of the member states were hoping the commission would relent on some of the proposed regulations, the commission maintained that the EU must reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030; and that clean energy sources, such as wind and solar power, compose 27% of the EU’s entire energy use by 2030. Though there is disagreement on the subject of shale gas between the member states, the commission also outlined regulations for tapping into shale rock reserves.

The proposed regulations and guidelines require support from the 28 member states and the European Parliament before they are fully enacted, so we can be sure that it will take some time for the laws to go into effect.

The EU’s 20-20-20 targets are still being enforced. The EU governments pledged to curb CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020, use 20% more renewable energy sources by 2020, and increase energy efficiency by 20% by 2020.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

March 21, 2014

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