Coal industry exchange traded funds are getting a bad rep in the new clean energy paradigm. However, coal remains a significant part of global energy consumption.
Paul Forward, managing director at Stifel, points out that the fundamental case for coal remains intact, reports Clay Dillow for CNBC. In the U.S., coal powers almost half of the electric grid, and in some states, coal makes up 80% of grid energy.
Many utilities are loath to switch out coal as the energy source remains the cheapest way to deliver BTUs to power generators. Additionally, coal will remain cheap as the U.S. still posses some 28% of the world’s known deposits.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read the ‘death of coal’ article,” Forward said int he article. “The funeral has been held many times. But here we sit, with coal at 40 percent of U.S. power. Coal’s defense is that it’s the immovable object that the unstoppable force of natural gas can’t push out of the energy picture. It’s going to take decades for gas to build up the infrastructure to do what coal does today.”
Naysayers, though, point to a number of factors that are contributing to coal’s funeral march.
For instance, the Obama administration has been openly conducting a so-called war on coal, increasing regulatory pressures to clean up the environment. Coal companies also took a hit after demand for metallurgical coal – coal used in production of metals like steel – faltered on slowing growth in China. Additionally, the rise of cheap natural gas has turned up as a suitable alternative energy source.