Ray Rothrock

Real Costs of Energy – Coal

In Energy on February 24, 2011 at 9:08 am

Coal is a wonderful fuel.  It’s cheap.  It’s plentiful.  It’s domestic.  But is it really cheap?  

For the last several years about 60 or more people have been killed by mining coal.  Now, a Harvard study has done the work to determine a dollar cost to America for mining, transporting and burning coal for electricity.  The number is $300 to $500B.  That’s a billion with a B.  The report is mentioned by EnergyBoom.  A report is forthcoming from the Annals of the New York Academy of Science where this work will be published.

I continue to be impressed by seeing Total Cost explored by various organizations.  It seems to me that we must consider all costs when evaluating America’s energy future.  This sort of work was probably very hard to do in decades past, but today we have incredible access to data, costs, and details about how whole industries are priced.  Economics is core to any future energy decision.  I hope this report is vetted to be right.  It’ll change the discussion about renewables and alternatives if people will simply consider the total cost of production of energy.

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