A major Missouri company insists that an energy source some would like to leave in the past is the energy source for the future.
Peabody Energy, headquartered in St. Louis, is the world’s largest private-sector coal company. Jacob Williams with Peabody tells state lawmakers not to give up on coal.
“Really, affordable coal generation is the key to global competitiveness around the world,” says Williams. “And we see it not only in the U.S., but if you look at the developing countries of the world, China and India, they are doing it on the back of coal generation. That is how they are growing.”
According to Williams, China has built as many coal-fired power plants during the past five years as currently exist in the United States. He predicts they will build just as many the next five years. Three-quarters of all the coal plants now under construction are being built in China, India and the rest of Asia. Coal is a 6 billion ton a year market. The United States uses one billion tons a year. China has easily surpassed the U.S., now using 2.7 billion tons of coal each year.
Williams says the only energy source America has in abundance is coal. Legislation under consideration in Washington would greatly restrict coal-generated power. Williams says that would place the US in a marked economic disadvantage with the emerging economies of China and India.
“The other thing I would suggest to you is that those countries of China and India are quite happy to use their affordable energy to take all the industry we don’t want,” Williams tells a legislative panel meeting at the Capitol.
With its increased use of coal, China has become the largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world. Williams says the United States has drastically cut its CO2 emissions. Emissions from coal-fired plants in the U.S., according to Williams, have dropped by 80% since the 1970s. He says emissions can be lowered even further if old coal-fired plants would be replaced by new, more technologically advanced plants which can cut emissions by 95%.
Alternative energy sources simply can’t compete, says Williams. He reasons that oil is expensive, that it’s difficult to find stable suppliers of natural gas, with wind and solar never projected to provide anything but a small percentage of energy.