Tom Albanese of Rio Tinto and Michael Morris of American Electric Power on whether coal’s days are numbered
Predictions of coal’s demise are everywhere. At the same time, though, it remains an important power source world-wide. The Wall Street Journal’s Jeffrey Ball talked with Tom Albanese, chief executive of mining giant Rio Tinto PLC, and Michael Morris, CEO of American Electric Power Co., about how coal fits into the future of energy supply.
… A Familiar Balance
MR. BALL: I’m just curious for your sense of the likely scale of renewable-electricity technology. Solar power is in the 1% range, much less than that; wind globally now is about 1% of electricity generation. What do you think is realistic?
MR. ALBANESE: I always tell our team, don’t underestimate solar. You’ve got infinite amounts of solar energy out there and you’ve got a lot of smart people around the world. They’re going to try to figure out a way of converting that to electrons, so don’t underestimate it.
But, that being said, it’s still a pretty high price point compared to alternative technologies.
MR. MORRIS: The penetration will continue to grow, but I think it will always be a small part. The intermittency of the two sources is the real Achilles’ heel.
MR. ALBANESE: In the long term for it to really work you’ve got to create hybrid solutions where you have solar and wind side by side with some type of centralized power generation that can be turned up and turned down.
MR. BALL: To be clear, Mike, you don’t see any fundamental change in the way that the global energy pie looks with regard to coal versus renewables? Renewables are always going to be a small slice and coal is always, at least as far your crystal ball sees, going to be the dominant slice?
MR. MORRIS: I believe that to be the case. Gas will grow at the expense of coal. Wall Street Journal