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Mon Feb 6, 2017, 10:54 PM

Coal is the key to the worldwide structure of energy

Interesting factoid: the Titanic burned 825 tons of coal per day while under way.

Coal is the key to the worldwide structure of energy. It accounts for about 40% of the world’s electricity production, hence it is a leading source of electricity. It will soon replace oil and become the largest source of primary energy. Coal dominates the global energy arena due to its abundance, affordability and wide distribution across the world. Coal reserves are estimated at 869 billion tons based on the current production rate. This means that coal should last about 115 years longer compared to the conventional reserves of oil and gas. Especially noteworthy are the significant coal reserves in Asia and southern Africa, two areas of the world that face major challenges in supplying energy to their populations. Coal reserves are highly underestimated in comparison with conventional reserves of oil and gas.

The ten leading countries based on hard coal production
China is the chief coal producer while the United States comes in second. Other major coal producers are India and Australia. Five countries, namely China, the United States, Russia, India and Japan accounted for over 75% of worldwide coal consumption. Despite the swift deployment of renewable energy, mainly in the background of debates around climate change, it is coal that is responsible for the largest upsurge in energy requirement of all energy sources.
Approximately 90% of the total global coal is produced by ten countries with China running in the lead. The statistics below show countries that have substantial coal resources.


Coal is proving critical in the world's energy growth. The need for coal is ever increasing, and ever larger percentages of electricity produced in the world is becoming reliant on power plants that use the resource. Regardless of the enormous distribution of coal reserves worldwide, these amounts are proving to not be enough. Furthermore, the ecological harms that come as a result of activities related to coal activities are grave matters and, thus, proper actions have to be taken. Consequently, it is essential for governments to discover innovative technologies for improved mining and coal processing, while also taking into account efficiency and the importance of environmental sustainability. It is paramount for policy makers come up with long-lasting technological solutions that look into future, hence putting the coal sector on a path that would allow it to respond better to future global challenges.

The Top 20 Coal Producers In The World
Rank Country Coal production (million tonnes)
1 China 3,874.0
2 United States 906.9
3 Australia 644.0
4 India 537.6
5 Indonesia 458.0
6 Russia 357.6
7 South Africa 260.5
8 Germany 185.8
9 Poland 137.1
10 Kazakhstan 108.7
11 Colombia 88.6
12 Turkey 70.6
13 Canada 68.8
14 Ukraine 60.9
15 Greece 49.3
16 Czech Republic 46.9
17 Serbia 44.4
18 Vietnam 41.2
19 Mongolia 33.2
20 Bulgaria 31.3


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Arrow 6 replies Author Time Post
Reply Coal is the key to the worldwide structure of energy (Original post)
pscot Feb 2017 OP
Xipe Totec Feb 2017 #1
dumbcat Feb 2017 #4
caraher Feb 2017 #6
msongs Feb 2017 #2
hunter Feb 2017 #3
pscot Feb 2017 #5

Response to pscot (Original post)

Mon Feb 6, 2017, 11:03 PM

1. Translated to airline passenger miles

A Boeing 737-400 jet is typically used for short international flights.

For a distance of 926 km, the amount of fuel used is estimated to be 3.61 tonnes [38], including taxiing, take-off, cruising and landing.

Using a seating capacity of 164 [Wikipedia, viewed 28.2.08] and an average seat occupancy (or 'load factor') of 65% [14], this gives a fuel use of 36.6 g per passenger km.

CO2 emissions from aviation fuel are 3.15 grams per gram of fuel [38], which gives CO2 emissions from a Boeing 737-400 of 115 g per passenger km.

At a cruising speed of 780 km per hour [Wikipedia, 28.2.08], this is equivalent to 90 kg CO2 per hour.


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Response to Xipe Totec (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 7, 2017, 03:27 PM

4. Interesting

I wonder what the equivalent figure would be in CO2 emissions per passenger kilometer on the Titanic? And I'd like to see that figure calculated for both passengers only, and passengers plus crew. I wish I had the data to calculate.

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Response to dumbcat (Reply #4)

Thu Feb 16, 2017, 06:53 AM

6. shouldn't be too hard to guesstimate

If you take coal to be basically all carbon C + O2 --> CO2 means multiply coal mass consumed by the ratio of CO2 molecular mass (44 g/mol) to carbon mass per mol (12 g/mol).

Further simplifying by assuming the rate is in metric tons per day, for Titanic we get

825,000 kg coal/day * (44/12) = 3 million kg/day CO2

Some Googling reveals Titanic cruised at 21 knots, just shy of 40 km/hour. So in 25 hours Titanic could travel 40 * 21 = 840 km. This means it spewed 3 million kg/840 km = 3600 kg CO2/km

It's not clear precisely how many people were on the Titanic; one source puts the total at 2229 of whom 1316 were passengers. That works out to 3600/2229 = 1.6 kg/(person km) for all aboard and 2.7 kg/(passenger km) looking just at passengers.

That's quite a lot worse than most modern forms of transportation.

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Response to pscot (Original post)

Mon Feb 6, 2017, 11:06 PM

2. article is a propaganda piece cheerleading for coal, an obsolete techonology on the way out nt

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Response to msongs (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 7, 2017, 11:58 AM

3. Except it's not on the way out. That's what makes this article terrifying.

There is a huge push to natural gas, the largest industrial projects ever undertaken by humans are directed toward natural gas extraction, but this isn't good news either. "Not so bad as coal" isn't anything to brag about.

The only way to quit fossil fuels is to quit fossil fuels. Unfortunately the current expansion of the world economy is powered by fossil fuels, and fossil fuel use is increasing.

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Response to hunter (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 15, 2017, 10:39 AM

5. If all the coal enumerated in that list was burned

it added roughly 46-trillion tons of CO2 to the atmosphere.

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