China`s Energy Appetite Bodes Well for Big Coal

energyA report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration noted Tuesday, and will likely dominate the coal market in 2013 thanks to the nation`s increasingly ravenous demand for energy.

That bodes well for America`s coal industry, experts say, which has languished in recent years as environmental regulations have tightened and a newfound abundance of natural gas has re-framed the nation`s energy equation, dampening domestic demand for coal.
[READ: BP Projection: U.S. Will Be Energy Self-Sufficient By 2030]
"Coal use in America is being driven down in large part by EPA regulations, both those that have been announced and those that are forthcoming," says Heath Knakmuhs, senior director of policy at the U.S. Chamber`s Energy Institute. "Of course we also have plentiful shale natural gas resources that have made natural gas a very attractive alternative from an economic sense [to be used to generate electricity]."
But those same regulatory and market forces aren`t necessarily in play in China, Knakmuhs says. Historically, natural gas has been much more expensive in Asia and elsewhere and while the Chinese are exploring ways to exploit their own shale deposits for natural gas and oil, many infrastructure obstacles remain, he says, which makes cheaper coal one of the best energy sources for the power-hungry nation.