theoildrum: Пик угля в мире

In 2007 the world coal production was modeled with an ultimate of 600 Gtoe and the peak was forecast at 4.2 Gtoe around 2050.

Figure 1: World coal production and model for an ultimate of 600 Gtoe in 2007

in 2007 the Energy Watch Group (EWG — Zittel LBST) in its report “Coal: resources and future production” was modelling world coal production with a peak around 2030 at 3.6 Gtoe, well below the IEA/WEO 2006 forecast which was at 4.5 Gtoe.

Figure 2: world coal production by the Energy Watch Group in 2007

China was forecast peaking in the 2010s and close to exhaustion in 2070. The US coal production was forecast peaking in 2080.

Figure 3: US coal production by the Energy Watch Group in 2007

The EWG study was based on the BP 2006/WEC 2004 estimates of about 500 Gt for hard coal and around the same for lignite & sub-bituminous coal, for a total of 1000 Gt, or 500 Gtoe, meaning an ultimate of 650 Gtoe.

Figure 4: history of hard coal reserves by the EWG in 2007

Figure 5: history of lignite & sub-bituminous reserves by the EWG in 2007

In 2010 I increased the ultimate for my model up to 750 Gtoe, to take care of the strong increase in production since 2000, mainly due to China. The peak was then still in 2050 but at 5.5 Gtoe. The cumulative production was 156 Gtoe at the time and the remaining reserves estimated at 505 Gtoe by the BGR, 405 Gtoe by WEC (copied by BP). The EWG was far below these estimates. The Uppsala group model (Hook et al. 2010) was based on an ultimate of 530 Gtoe.

Figure 6: world coal production for U= 600 & 750 Gtoe with IEO 2011, WEO 2010, EWG 2007, Rutledge 2010 & Hook 2010 forecasts

In 2010 David Rutledge (Caltech) published a report accompanied by a spreadsheet available with all the data available on the Internet: «Background material for Estimating Long-Term World Coal Production with Logit and Probit Transforms» International Journal of Coal Geology. His model was for an ultimate of 675 Gt or about 350 Gtoe.

Figure 7: world coal production & model by Rutledge 2010

Rutledge models China with an ultimate of 140 Gt (about 70 Gtoe).

Figure 8: China coal production & model by Rutledge 2010

he forecast by Exxon-Mobil in their “Outlook for energy” has varied with time for the last three years. At the US EIA and John Hopkins University 2010 Energy Conference, Tom Eizembe, from Exxon-Mobil’s Corporate Strategic Planning delivered a presentation entitled “The Outlook for Energy a view to 2030” where the company’s cols reserves estimate was put at 990 Gt.

Figure 9: world coal production by Exxon-Mobil 2010

In 2011, the Exxon-Mobil forecast was flat from 2010 to 2030, but at a higher level of 5.5 Gt

Figure 10: world coal production by Exxon-Mobil 2011

In 2012 Exxon-Mobil in its outlook to 2040 forecasts coal demand in 2040 to be less than in 2010, with a peak in 2025 at 3.7 Gtoe. This is significantly lower than my model at 4.6 Gtoe. The EIA/IEO 2012 is not yet published but the 2011 edition forecasts for 2035 a production of 5.3 Gtoe, higher than my plateau at 4.6 Gtoe.

My new update in 2012 on coal production is based on an ultimate of 750 Gtoe, modelled with 5 cycles and here compared to Exxon-Mobil 2012, IEA/WEO 2012 and EIA/IEO 2011. The forecasts by Exxon-Mobil and the IEA are already too low compared to the 2011 value, only the EIA seems in line with my forecast.

Figure 11: world coal production modeled with 5 cycles for an ultimate of 750 Gtoe with forecasts from Exxon-Mobil, IEA & EIA

The remaining world coal reserves vary between sources (WEC, BP recopying WEC, BGR) and with time. Following the price is displayed and apparently it does not play any impact on reserves estimates.

Figure 12: world coal reserves evolution from different sources and coal price

The big problem is to distinguish between reserves, which are expected to be produced economically with the known technology and resources, in essence the volume without any constraints. Presently, coal seams less than 50 cm thick, deeper than 1500 m or offshore are not considered as reserves. This is why for the world the volume of resources is more than 20 times the volume of reserves. The constraints are mainly energetic: energy return over energy invested.

A big breakthrough could be “in situ gasification” (underground coal gasification = UCG), but many attempts in the last century (first patents in 1910) and in the new century were not successful. In 2007 the WEC estimated UGC potential at 600 Gt.

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