Coal, a fuel that once dominated the global energy scene, is staging a come‐back despite being environmentally dirty. The purpose of the paper is to analyse the return of King Coal to find out whether it is likely to be regain its dominance in the global energy in the future.
In analysing the metamorphosis of the coal industry, the paper looks at the historical evolution of the industry and analyses the factors behind the change. The deficiencies of coal's competitors are also analysed. Using a scenario analysis, the future role of coal in the global energy mix is estimated as well.
The paper finds that despite the domination of hydrocarbons in the global energy mix, coal has maintained a steady share and in some countries, it remained the main fuel. With the concerns of high‐oil prices and peak oil, coal is regaining its domination in the power sector around the world. The industry has reformed and restructured itself to remain competitive. Consequently, it has the possibility of staging a come back as a dominant fuel.
The paper is the first of its kind to take a long‐term perspective of the coal industry to analyse its re‐emergence as a dominant fuel. It combines the industry‐wide information to analyse the changes that swept the industry. It contributes by improving the academic understanding of a neglected fuel that still plays an important role.
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