“Struggling coal company Patriot Coal (PCX) has filed for bankruptcy, citing a coal industry “transformation” that made its financial position untenable… Patriot Coal’s bankruptcy comes as the coal industry faces major challenges including high debt, slumping natural gas prices, and new emissions regulations that have made it a less economic energy source for utilities…” Source: http://www.thestreet.com/story/11609935/1/patriot-coal-prepares-for-bankruptcy-report.html
There are two fundamental questions to the issue of replacing one technology with another: The first is, can the new technology succeed and become as sustainable as the one it is replacing, and second, are those currently making money willing to concede that their cash cow is now obsolete. In modern America the answer to the second question is not one of logic, but politics, and greed. Dead, destructive and dirty technologies like coal have seen their logical conclusion and are prime to be replaced by clean technologies, except that their opulently wealthy patrons have a stranglehold on government as a means of perpetuating their absurdity.
Too harsh? In 1985 57% of all power generated in the US came from coal. Last year that number fell to about 35% or almost in half, while natural gas produced nearly 35%, up from 24.6% in 1985. One finite and filthy source of energy hammered towards the brink by a new one. And there is one word that is never uttered, despite it being a near perfect and very sustainable (At least for the next couple billion years) source of energy: Solar.
You might have missed the news. IBM, you know that liberal, Commie-socialist tech company, announced a breakthrough in solar technology. A research team is working on a solar dish with the potential to collect and convert 80% of incoming sunlight. Harnessing and absorbing enough solar radiation to melt steel, the large dish will be capable of producing roughly 504,000 kWh, or kilowatt/hours of energy. That is enough, at an average annual use per household of 8,000 kWh, that would fully power 63 homes. In other words, each neighborhood in America would have its own solar power generator, maybe surrounded by a little garden, free from terrorist attacks on the grid, with no pollution, cheap and reliable. Outrage!
It’s called CPV, or concentrated Photovoltaic technology, designed originally for space, where temperatures regularly exceed more than 400 degrees Fahrenheit, or about the same oven temperature that it takes to bake a good Calzone. This is a still a nascent technology, but it has grown by leaps and bounds within just a few short years. It took the aircraft and automobile industry the better part of a century to evolve from the Model T and the Wright Brothers to a Maserati and the Boeing 787. Solar has made that same tech leap in less that 30 years.
Now, to be thoroughly ridiculous, and because I am your source for inane and obscure facts, there are roughly 160 million households in the United States, according to the 2010 census. If IBM’s CVP breakthrough represented the end of innovation in solar tech, to meet the nation’s home power needs with the cleanest current technology possible, would require about 2.5 million dishes. A manufacturing explosion!…In America!
But that’s absurd, you say! No one builds anything in America these days. We might as well be building pyramids! Who could achieve such an impossible technological and engineering feat? Why, just ask Verizon or T-Mobile. 10 years ago there were virtually no cell phone towers in America, comparatively. Now there are nearly three quarters of a million.
The point is simple. Dangerous and low paying coal jobs would go the way of history, replaced by production, construction, tech and maintenance jobs across the nation to serve every household. I have not even touched on factories and businesses. Coal factories could easily and quickly, without loss of jobs switch to generating and transferring to communities across the nation clean solar power, leaving the environment unmolested while maintaining profit and economic growth. In fact, the conversion to the new technology would see a net benefit to the economy in jobs for the long term. Moreover, those jobs would be tech-oriented, marketable 21st Century jobs.
Current estimate concede that we will run out of energy from the sun in only about 4.5 billion years-so stock up. Compare that to the industry’s own prediction on oil cited below. Oil costs far more than it’s worth in wars and economic strife, environmental upheavals and health care costs. Coal is dying for many reasons, not the lest of which are also health and environmental in nature, but because it is also really, really, really bad for adjacent property values.
Consider this from the replacement energy causing havoc with coal(Hint, it isn’t solar or Obama):
“The world’s proven oil reserves of 1,383.2 billion barrels will last for only 46 years if oil production and consumption are to remain at current levels, according to BP Statistical Review of World Energy. The world’s natural gas reserves will also last for just 59 years if production is to continue at the 2010 rate… “http://topforeignstocks.com/2011/08/15/how-long-will-the-global-oil-and-natural-gas-reserves-last/