Hydrocarbons or fossil fuels, oil, coal and natural gas, represent 80% of the world's total primary energy supply (all hydrocarbons plus nuclear and all renewable energy combined). Since 1850, the world has grown extraordinarily wealthy on their use. In fact, per capita income to-day is closely correlated with per capita energy use.
Unfortunately, hydrocarbons also account for 80% of the global greenhouse gas production and most of the localized air pollutants which, depending on their concentrations, can impair human health. Yet the global demand for fossil energy is expected to continue to grow. Even with an astonishingly huge projected growth in some renewable energy sources (for example, wind) fossil fuels are projected to supply 81% of all global primary energy use by 2030.
Coal has a central role to play in all of this. It currently accounts for 25% of the world's total primary energy supply and 40.9% of world electricity generation; and coal represents 59% of the remaining available energy from the world's hydrocarbon reserves. Accordingly, coal is forecast by a US government agency to be the fastest growing global fuel source through 2030. Its share of world primary energy use is expected to rise to 26.0% of total energy and 41.5% of electricity production by 2030.
This conference explored the future of coal in Ontario, the policies affecting its continued use as part of the long-term energy supply mix, and coal use as a huge global energy supply source accompanied by technological advancements leading to solutions for clean coal technology.