Using a multi-cyclic Hubbard analysis, researcher Tad Patzek has concluded that the world will experience "peak coal" as soon as next year (h/t GCC).
Several things are obvious:
The study does contain a caveat: "new cycles could occur if a technological breakthrough allowed mining of coal from very thin seams or at much greater depths, or if non-producing coal districts become important producers."
I believe UCG is one of the wildcards. Massive deposits of deep, thin or undersea coal are not recoverable by conventional mining, but these could potentially be pyrolized in place and extracted as gas. With an estimated 3000 billion tons of coal off Norway and strong interest in Britain, coal could return as supplies of Russian natural gas taper off.
This does make it doubtful that carbon emissions would fall very far before rebounding. Nuclear is looking better and better every day.
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