Coal: A Powerful Force for Creating Global Energy Access

Published: 11 Feb 2015
 

Coal: A Powerful Force for Creating Global Energy Access

Modern energy is essential for human development and strong economies, yet today more than 3.5 billion people live without adequate access to electricity. 

Bringing electricity to developing nations has been a global effort for the past 20 years and, according to a recent study released by the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Energy Policy and the Environment, coal has brought light, economic prosperity and a higher standard of living to more people than any other source of energy.         

“Growth in coal consumption has been critical in providing electricity access in developing countries,” said Robert Bryce, the study’s author and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Bryce points to coal as the force creating energy access for more than 830 million people in the past 20 years, the vast majority of whom live in developing countries. And coal provided exponentially more energy to those in need than non-hydro renewable fuels. For every one person who obtained access to electricity from renewables such as wind and solar, about 13 people gained access due to coal. 

Use of coal for electricity also continues to grow in wealthy countries, too.  For power production, Bryce concludes: …“No other energy source can currently match the black fuel when it comes to cost, scale and reliability.”

Coal has been the leader providing electricity for developing countries around the world, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Global coal use grew by nearly as much as the growth in oil and natural gas combined over the last decade.  In fact, the growth in global coal use was seven times greater than the increase in wind and solar combined during the decade.   

“No other energy source can currently match the black fuel when it comes to cost, scale and reliability.” – Robert Bryce

More than 40 percent of all global electricity production comes from coal, and in coming years global coal use is projected to surpass oil as the world’s largest energy source. Bryce predicts that more than 500 gigawatts of new coal-fueled capacity will be built worldwide by 2040, providing enough power for more than 350 million homes.

Coal has played an essential role in alleviating energy poverty around the world and will continue to be the leading force bringing electricity, economic growth and opportunity to developing countries for years to come. 

Says Fatih Birol, the International Energy Agency’s Chief Economist: “The importance of coal in the global energy mix is now the highest since 1971.  It remains the backbone of electricity generation and has been the fuel underpinning the rapid industrialization of emerging economies, helping to raise living standards and lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.”

Click here to read the entire study. 

 

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