Peabody Energy Chairman and CEO Gregory H. Boyce delivered the keynote address on “The Future of Fossil Fuels” at the Global Energy Future Symposium at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, calling on the assembled international academic and governmental leaders to “put people first” by supporting policies that prioritize eliminating global energy poverty by 2050.

Boyce said coal is a global “future fuel,” citing three global trends that will define the future of 21st century energy: Enormous and growing global need as billions of people around the world seek greater access to energy to improve living standards; the rapid growth of fossil fuels; and the leading role of technology in driving environmental progress.

“Energy is as essential as food, shelter and clothing. It helps people live longer and better. And it is a human right, just as increasing electricity intensity is a global reality,” said Boyce, who noted fossil fuels are the only resources with the scale to meet global demand.

More efficient and clean technologies to fully utilize fossil fuels will be critical to meet global environmental goals, said Boyce.

The world will use 50% more energy in the next quarter century, and Boyce said coal will play an essential role in providing this power. Coal has been the fastest-growing fuel for the past decade, and coal’s market share is projected to grow.

Boyce also commented on Peabody’s plan to ensure full global access to electricity by 2050 by advancing clean coal technologies. He observed replacing the existing coal-fired fleet with efficient supercritical plants would drive major global reindustrialization and enormous emissions reductions, and carbon capture and storage would build on this progress.

“No other energy resource comes close to the power of coal,” Boyce said. “Replacing coal would take 1,800 times more solar than we have today…2.5 million wind turbines—and constant wind…1,150 nuclear plants…70 tcf annually of gas—three times the production of Russia…or 2,250 large hydro plants. All of these sources are important. Yet they cannot match the scale of coal.”

The world does not face a choice between more drilling or more wind, Boyce said. “We do not face a choice between clean coal or natural gas,” Boyce said. “The world in 2030 will need it all. The good news: There are solutions to meet environmental objectives and energy needs. Those solutions are technology-based. There are many potential options, and we should explore them all, but clean coal technology provides the lowest cost, low-carbon path.”

Record Coal Exports Through Australia’s Abbot Point
Coal exports out of Abbot Point set a monthly record in August with 1,884,359 metric tons (mt) loaded in 24 ships. “This is a good indicator of what is yet to come at Abbot Point and a sign of continued growth within the industry,” said Brad Fish, CEO, North Queensland Bulk Ports (NQBP). “The previous record was set in December 2009 with 1,748,883 mt loaded in 22 ships.”

NQBP remains on track to deliver capacity of 50 million mt/y with construction of the X50 Expansion project running on schedule. “We look forward to providing an increase in capacity throughout 2011 meeting the future demands of the industry,” said Fish. “The future of Abbot Point is one of extreme potential with plans progressing for expansions to 230 million mt/y and the multi-cargo facility.”

CONSOL Idles Utah Emery Mine and Closes Mine 84
CONSOL Energy has issued notice under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) that it will idle its Emery mine near Price, Utah, and close its Mine 84 near Washington, Pennsylvania. Both mine are room-and-pillar operations and the comapny attributed the decisions to high mining costs.

“It is unfortunate that we need to take this action, since the employees at Emery mine have worked safely for more than 400 days without a single injury, and have done everything they could to keep the operation running,” said Jimmy Brock, CONSOL Energy senior vice president of operations. “For those Emery employees who are interested and who qualify, we will offer them the option of a position at another CONSOL operation.”

“Mine 84 has been in operation for many decades, and it is unfortunate the time has come when it was no longer able to compete in today’s markets,” said Brock. Similarly, CONSOL will offer the affected employees positions at other company operations.