The success of Google's "RE less than C" initiative hinges on coal (C). This talk will review major developments in the coal industry worldwide and explain why coal will be very difficult to unseat in the emerging markets where growth in consumption is most rapid. In the industrialized world the situation is different, and the recent explosion in the cost of building and operating new coal-fired power plants means that in some settings renewable energy (RE) already cheaper than coal. Yet the coal industry has never been so competitive as it is today, and it is possible that coal could remain a dominant energy source even in a carbon-constrained world. So far, however, actual investment in the new technologies needed to make coal competitive has been about two orders of magnitude less than needed.
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