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Coal and Peat: global resources and future supply
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Global Energy Systems.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6379-7104
2012 (English)In: Encyclopedia of Sustainability Science and Technology / [ed] R.A. Mayer, New York: Springer , 2012Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Coal is the second most important fuel currently used by mankind, accounting for over 25% of the world’s primary energy supply. It provides 41% of global electricity supplies and is a vital fuel or production input for the steel, cement and chemical industries. However, coal is a fossil fuel formed from organic material by geological processes over millions of years. Hence, coal is a finite resource in terms of human time scales and its continued availability is important to the world economy.

Peat is a related substance, but is classified somewhere between a fossil fuel and biomass. The energy sector uses peat as a fuel to generate electricity and heat. It also has applications in industrial, residential and other sectors but global consumption of peat is insignificant in comparison to coal. Peat shares many similarities with coal and is increasingly often grouped with coal for resource estimates in reports and assessments by public agencies.

Knowing how coal and peat are created is vital to understanding how deposits are formed and what their basic properties are. Geology provides models and methodologies for describing deposits and where to find them. Exploration, drilling and surveys provide the data necessary to map deposits and assess the resources they contain. Classification schemes are also central to understanding how the terms relate to the underlying data.

Future production of coal and peat is essential for the development of global energy supplies. It is only the produced volumes that can be used in human activities and a detailed appreciation of the production process is essential in understanding future supply developments. Factors such as economy, technology, legal and environmental constraints affect the recoverable share of the available resources, i.e. the reserves. Understanding the complexity and the greater whole of the production mechanism and the limitations that are imposed on it require a wide variety of approaches and conceptual infrastructures.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York: Springer , 2012.
Keyword [en]
coal, peat, coal reserves, coal resources, coal supply, peat supply, biological systems, physical systems, sustainability science
National Category
Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Global Energy Resources
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-129294ISBN: 978-0-387-89469-0OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-129294DiVA: diva2:338147
The book will be published in 2011/2012, but the chapter is already acceptedAvailable from: 2010-08-10 Created: 2010-08-10 Last updated: 2015-01-08Bibliographically approved

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