particulate air pollutants, solid wastes, and possibly air toxics, will continue to determine the acceptability of coal-based systems, with state and local environmental requirements posing the most restrictive demands on power plant emissions. However, concern over global warming could present the greatest long-term threat to coal use because of the CO2 emissions from coal combustion. Reducing CO2 emissions over the mid- to long-term periods may be critical to maintaining coal's viability as an energy source. The most cost-effective method of reducing CO2 emissions from power generation and other coal-based systems is to improve their overall efficiency.
Expansion of coal-based power generation is anticipated in the developing nations, notably China, and major international markets exist for coal utilization technologies. In the near-term, capital investment requirements are expected to be a controlling consideration in most foreign markets. Foreign requirements to minimize conventional pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions will lag those imposed in the United States, but their introduction is expected to have a large impact on international sales of coal-based technologies, especially in the mid- to long-term periods.
World petroleum resources are sufficiently large, and production costs sufficiently low, that prices for imported oil will continue to be governed primarily by political and institutional factors. Oil prices are expected to increase over time. However, international political events and disruptions could produce high price volatility in any time period. When time-averaged imported oil prices exceed $25 to $30/bbl, use of heavy oil and tar from North and South America becomes competitive with conventional petroleum. If production of gaseous and liquid fuels from coal can compete in this price range, a major market for coal beyond power generation could develop. Coal-derived gaseous and liquid fuels could also be used in chemicals production.
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