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A global coal production forecast with multi-Hubbert cycle analysis

Tadeusz W. Patzek and Gregory D. Croft

Energy, 2010, vol. 35, issue 8, 3109-3122

Abstract: Based on economic and policy considerations that appear to be unconstrained by geophysics, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) generated forty carbon production and emissions scenarios. In this paper, we develop a base-case scenario for global coal production based on the physical multi-cycle Hubbert analysis of historical production data. Areas with large resources but little production history, such as Alaska and the Russian Far East, are treated as sensitivities on top of this base-case, producing an additional 125Gt of coal. The value of this approach is that it provides a reality check on the magnitude of carbon emissions in a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario. The resulting base-case is significantly below 36 of the 40 carbon emission scenarios from the IPCC. The global peak of coal production from existing coalfields is predicted to occur close to the year 2011. The peak coal production rate is 160EJ/y, and the peak carbon emissions from coal burning are 4.0GtC (15GtCO2) per year. After 2011, the production rates of coal and CO2 decline, reaching 1990 levels by the year 2037, and reaching 50% of the peak value in the year 2047. It is unlikely that future mines will reverse the trend predicted in this BAU scenario.

Keywords: Carbon emissions; IPCC scenarios; Coal production peak; Coal supply; Conservation; Efficiency (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2010
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