Key Opportunities for U.S.-China Cooperation on Coal and CCS

A December 2009 report on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and Coal in the United States and China, published by the Brookings Institution’s John L. Thorton China Center, authored by ChinaFAQs expert Kelly Sims Gallagher, Associate Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy at The Fletcher School, Tufts University.

One of the most striking commonalities between China and the United States is that both countries are blessed with large coal reserves,and naturally, both rely heavily on coal for their primary energy supply. U.S. coal reserves are estimated at 243 billion tons (29% of world total), and Chinese at 115 billion tons (14% of world total). China’s reserves-to-production ratio, however,is much shorter than that of the United States with only 41 years of currently-estimated economically recoverable coal compared with 224 years in the United States at current production rates (BP Statistical Review 2009). As the most abundant fossil energy resource in both countries, it is virtually certain that both will continue to rely heavily on coal due to its relatively low cost and the energy security benefits related to not having to import substantial foreign supplies of primary energy. The utilization of coal will be increasingly limited by the climate change problem, however, unless advanced coal and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies can be developed, demonstrated, and rendered cost-effective within the next 5-15 years.

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