Coal in a Climate Constrained World

Coal is the fastest growing source of fossil fuel in the world, adding more to absolute world energy supply in the last decade than almost all other forms of energy combined. Coal is the big reality in a climate constrained world. Coal currently supplies 70 percent of China’s primary energy and 80 percent of its electricity. As the developing world industrializes and struggles to meet the seemingly insatiable demand for power, coal has become the unavoidable fuel of choice. My research with PESD colleagues and collaborators (Prof. David Victor, Prof. Frank Wolak, Richard Morse, Varun Rai, Mark Thurber, PENG Wuyuan, Dr. RUI Huaichuan, Kevin Tu) reveals the central role of the coal-to-electricity value chain in shaping coal market dynamics and policy implications in China as well as in other countries. Our focus on Chinese coal has given us a unique perspective on the prospects for carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) to dramatically reduce the carbon intensity of coal use in China, China’s coal import behavior as a cost minimizer, and the integration of the value chain and the dynamics of reforms in the coal and power sector.

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