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Posted Sat Sep 11 2010: from Yale360:
Are We Nearing Peak Coal?
A controversial new study suggests that the world is nearing the peak of readily exploitable reserves of high-quality coal, contradicting prevailing estimates that the globe has enough coal to help meet energy needs for at least a century. Tad Patzek, chairman of the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, said the world could be approaching the peak of coal mining and he predicts that by 2050 the global coal supply will be half what it is today. "We are near or at the peak right now," said Patzek, whose research was published in the journal, Energy. In the coming decades, Patzek said, the world will exploit sources that are easy to reach and lower in sulfur, leaving far less desirable stores underground. Even though numerous studies have forecast that the U.S. and the world have ample coal reserves for the foreseeable future, Patzek said he "completely" disregarded these reserve estimates, saying they are unreliable. Coal plants supply 40 percent of the world's electricity, and Patzek said of his estimates, "If we are right, major restructuring and shrinking of the global economy will follow."
[Read more stories about: peak oil, coal issues]

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