KUALA LUMPUR — For environmentalists, coal is a bad word. But for some of Asia’s biggest economies, the same fuel that was the bedrock of the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain in the 19th century is key to economic development plans two centuries later. While China, the world’s biggest coal producer and consumer, is slowly cutting back on its use of coal for fuel, both Japan, a coal importer, and Indonesia, the world’s biggest coal exporter by weight, plan to expand their coal-fired supplies in the coming years. Other developing economies are turning to coal as they expand their electricity grids. Vietnam is likely to double coal consumption in the coming years, as will India — which recently overtook Japan as the world’s third-biggest oil importer and where roughly 250-300 million people do not have electricity. “China’s expected energy mix points to decreased use of coal, with the share of coal-fired power generation expected to fall to 61% by 2020 from the current 72%,” said Deepak Kannan, S&P Global Platts editor for thermal coal in Asia.
PORT MORESBY — The term ‘Biofuels’ might sound like a catchy green buzzword, but these alternatives to petroleum-based fuels have been around for a long time. The original Ford Model T was configured to run on ethanol rather than gasoline, and Rudolf Diesel ran his first demo engine on peanut oil. Biofuels were revived – temporarily at least – by the 1970s oil embargo imposed by OPEC, as oil shortages and high fuel prices contributed to western economic stagnation. At the time, alternative energy sources were looked at, but subsequent economic revival and lower oil prices from the 1980s onward put these biofuels on the back burner Biofuels re-emerged in the late 1990s as the US mulled how to diversify its energy sources away from reliance on foreign oil imported from unstable or hostile states such as Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria