Despite talk surrounding the “death of coal,” the industry continues to play a huge role in the U.S. — and an even larger one abroad. Look beyond the alarmism and it’s clear that coal isn’t going away any time soon.
When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released its Clean Power Plan, many took it as the death bell for the coal industry in the U.S. The plan, which aims to lower carbon emissions in the U.S., is just the latest supposed nail in coal’s coffin, as environmental regulations, political rhetoric, and the downturn in coal production as a result of the Great Recession has pinched the industry in recent years.
Despite these dire predictions, the major players remain hopeful. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Peabody Energy, the 2014 Platts Energy Company of the Year, is looking forward to a future in which coal “will continue to dominate world energy markets for years to come.” The company plans to embrace and develop new technologies, such as improved pollution-scrubbing, to make coal and even more efficient and clean energy producer.
This solution of investing in new technologies is being embraced internationally. According to USA Today, many countries still rely heavily on coal and believe that technology is key to its future, with innovations like the development high-efficiency, low-emission power plants leading the way. India, for one, currently draws 61% of its energy from coal and plans to depend on it heavily for the future growth of the country’s infrastructure, as the U.S. Energy Information Administration notes.
With nations like India and China invested, coal has a firm presence in the world’s future. According to Real Clear Energy, coal currently produces 40% of the world’s power — a number that has gone up since 1990 and is expected to remain steady through 2040. In just one decade, between the years 2011-2020, coal will generate more energy than natural gas has produced in 50 years and more than nuclear energy has ever produced.
As the world’s population grows, coal will be essential to meeting increased energy needs in underdeveloped areas. In the United States and internationally, technology is the key to making sure that coal remains a reliable, affordable energy source with reduced environmental impact.
A Strong Industry for a Strong Economy
Even while coal production grows abroad, it’s undeniable that the coal industry is a major employer and contributor in the U.S. economy.
In a report released last year, the National Miners Association found that the coal mining industry alone employed 708,140 people in 2012, with 195,490 jobs directly created for miners, support workers and transportation professionals.
In addition to employing breadwinners across the nation, the report found that coal mining contributed $83.2 million to the United States GDP in 2012. In some states, like West Virginia and Wyoming, coal mining represents a significant portion — over 10% — of the overall state GDP.
Towards a Future with Clean Solutions
As the coal industry moves forward, coal producers are ready to step up to ensure that it remains a safe and environmentally responsible source of power. Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc. offers a variety of services for the coal and utility industries from coal pile management to material handling, all of which are cost-effective and environmentally friendly. With the help of companies like Midwest, coal is far from dead — it’s entering a new age.