Survey of Energy Resources 2007
As this Survey shows, coal is plentiful, widely distributed and likely to be in continuing, and increasing, demand for the foreseeable future. Either the use of indigenous reserves or the ability to access a well-provided and affordable international market can enhance a country's or region's energy security, and provide affordable, reliable power to drive economies and development.
The key production centres for oil and gas - now that US and North Sea production are in decline - are considered geopolitically less stable, and an increasing reliance on imports can, for many countries, only be considered 'energy-insecure'. Recent supply disruptions in oil and gas - whether from the weather or for political reasons - have exacerbated these pressures to provide secure and steady energy. (Fig. 1-2 )
A further key factor is coal's relative affordability and lack of price volatility. Coal has consistently outperformed oil and gas on an equivalent-energy basis, and despite a potential cost of carbon, coal is likely to remain the most affordable fuel for power generation in many developing and industrialised countries for several decades. Events in 2006 led to oil prices rising to around US$ 80/bbl and gas prices spiking to new highs, underlining coal's key role in power generation worldwide.