ST. LOUIS, June 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Peabody Energy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gregory H. Boyce today called for an all-in energy plan with greater use of coal to secure a long-term supply of low-cost electricity that is vital to a high-growth economic and industrial base.
"Affordable energy – largely fueled by advanced coal – will help reindustrialize North America's economy as we work to make the air cleaner every day," Boyce said today in New York City during the Goldman Sachs North American Energy Summit, which included top CEOs, policymakers and elected leaders.
"The United States is the largest economy in the world. We should advance energy solutions that encourage robust economic growth. None of us should be satisfied with 2 to 3 percent annual GDP growth; let's put the policies in place to allow our economy to thrive."
In any action plan to improve affordable energy access, Boyce said all energy forms are needed, including more coal, gas, nuclear and renewables. Each fuel has strengths and limitations. Coal serves as a buffer to higher natural gas prices, spikes in the cost of oil and the intermittency of renewables.
During the bitter-cold winter months this year, coal fueled 90 percent of increased U.S. electricity needs. Coal's market share is double natural gas, and the states that don't use coal wrestle with electricity costs that are nearly twice as much as the states that predominantly use coal for electricity.
Boyce also cautioned about economic lessons from other regions that pick and choose their energy sources. "There's a reason why North America doesn't want to mirror the European Union. Europe has seen job losses, sluggish economies and soaring energy costs as nations have faced high renewable energy mandates and a price on carbon."
Boyce said energy is the fundamental building block for a healthy society, yet energy poverty is a major issue in the United States and around the world: "U.S. energy policy should be guided by the very real crisis being felt today by more than one of every three U.S. households that qualify for energy assistance," he said.
Globally the picture is also stark, with enormous need for modern energy.
"Energy inequality is a crisis globally with 3.5 billion people lacking enough power for basic needs that are essential for human development and greater longevity," Boyce said. "The lack of proper energy leads to crippling impacts to human health, standards of living and damage to the environment."
Billions of people are forced to use direct fuels or biomass for cooking and heating, burning at the rate of two tons per family per year. Indoor smoke from daily fires results in staggering consequences and is estimated to be the fourth-leading cause of death globally.
"Our actions should not be guided by a modeled crisis but by this very real human and environmental crisis," Boyce said.
The world continues turning to coal to solve its largest energy and economic challenges. Globally one new 500 megawatt coal plant is being brought on line every three days, and the majority of this power is being developed as high-efficiency supercritical and ultra-supercritical generation that delivers low emissions.
During this decade, nearly 335 gigawatts of coal-fueled electricity have been built in 29 nations on six continents. These plants have the potential to serve approximately 800 million people and use 1 billion tonnes of coal per year. Coal is the world's fastest-growing major fuel and demand continues to rise, with coal set to surpass oil as the world's largest global energy source in coming years.
Peabody Energy is the world's largest private-sector coal company and a global leader in sustainable mining, energy access and clean coal solutions. Peabody's Advanced Energy for Life campaign seeks to raise awareness and support to end global energy poverty, increase access to low-cost electricity and improve emissions using today's advanced clean coal technologies.
SOURCE Peabody Energy