From Tom Dyson, publisher, Palm Beach Research Group: It’s the world’s most abundant energy resource. At current rates of consumption, there’s enough of it to last for at least 142 years.
In contrast, there’s only enough proven oil and gas to last around 60 years (at current rates).
I’m talking about coal.
There are around 1 trillion tons of proven coal reserves on the planet. The U.S. is king of coal reserves. It has more than 237 billion tons. (Russia and China follow, with 157 billion tons and 114 billion tons, respectively.)
Coal is an extremely important natural resource. It’s responsible for 40% of the world’s electricity production and 30% of the world’s primary energy needs.
Over the last decade, coal has added more to the global energy supply than any other resource.
(China is the world’s largest coal consumer, generating 81% of its electricity from coal. Germany uses coal to generate more than 50% of its electricity.)
According to the World Resources Institute, 1,200 new coal-fired power plants in 59 countries are currently planned… just to keep up with demand.
The problem with all this is coal is extremely unpopular with politicians.
That’s because burning coal impacts the environment. It releases sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides, and mercury.
Coal-fired power plants are the biggest source of man-made CO2 emissions.
The biggest breakthrough in the energy world would be figuring out how to make burning coal “greener.” That would dwarf solar power initiatives.
If you could make coal green, you’d solve the world’s energy problems overnight. A few projects have tried—and failed—to do this.
For instance, take CCS, which stands for carbon capture and storage. It’s a process of capturing the CO2 produced by coal plants. But it uses nasty chemicals and is not economically viable.
There’s also gasification, where coal is turned into synthetic natural gas. The problem is: It creates far more CO2 than regular natural gas, and its water requirements are massive.
Enter a new project in Kemper County, Mississippi.
It’s a joint initiative between the Southern Company (one of America’s largest utility companies), the Department of Energy, and another contractor company.
It cost $6 billion, making it one of the most expensive power plants ever built in the U.S.
But, it’s the first project in the U.S. to use both CCS and gasification on a large scale.
It uses minimal water, produces minimal discharges, and eliminates the majority of emissions produced by a regular coal plant. And it burns the cheapest, most abundant type of coal.
We’re keeping an eye on this plant. It’s supposed to start producing power in early 2016.
It could hold the key to the most important revolution in energy production of the decade…