Coal production increasing while offshore wind awaits
Coal production may not decline as much over the next five years as previously projected, but the long-term forecast looks worse. Monday, DOE's Energy Information Administration increased its estimates of annual regional coal production for each of the next five years.
The report concluded that to meet the demands of the electric power-generating industry, the amount of coal produced annually in the Appalachian Basin has been rising slowly over the last several decades, from about 308 million tons in 1961 to 397 million tons in 2005. Historically, over the past two centuries, a large proportion of Appalachian production has come from relatively few counties in southwestern Pennsylvania, northern and southern West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and Virginia. Many of these counties are decades past their years of peak production, and several are almost depleted of economically accessible deposits of coal.
Because the major consumer of Appalachian and Illinois Basin coal is the electric power industry, coal quality, especially sulfur content, is an important consideration for its marketability. This means that Appalachian Basin, high-sulfur coal deposits in western Pennsylvania and Ohio are in low demand when compared with the low-sulfur coals of Virginia, southern West Virginia, and eastern Kentucky.
Coastal states such as Maryland and Massachusetts are trying to make change to limitless, healthy and environmentally friendly offshore wind. But as usual, the forces that stand to lose the most if this happens continue to try to make these efforts fail.
In an article by Tim Wheeler of the Baltimore Sun this past Monday he pointed out that the east coast of the United States has sufficient resources to make offshore wind the next energy boom. He wrote:
In an article accepted for publication in the journal Renewable Energy, researchers with the University of Delaware's Center for Carbon-Free Power Integration figure that the winds off Maryland's coast are steady and strong enough - and the continental shelf wide enough - to install potentially 7,800 huge turbines that could generate up to 189 percent of the state's current electricity consumption.
That's after about a third of the potential turbine sites are excluded to stay well clear of shipping lanes. Also after barring any windmills closer than eight nautical miles to the shore, so that from the sandy resort beaches they'd be but tiny whirligigs on the horizon.
Using that much coastal shelf would call for developing some new turbines capable of operating in deeper waters. But even if limited to putting turbines in shallower waters using technology now in use in Europe, the study estimates there's still room for 2,900 5-megawatt windmills, which it figures could generate up to 70 percent of the state's current power needs.
Couple this great resource with a guarantee that they be fabricated and installed with American hands and the east coast could see a job boom followed by a large reduction of harmful gases being emitted into the atmosphere. This type of leadership and direction would surely spark a clean energy race that would have lots of winners including the Polar Bear.