Arch Coal is the 3rd largest Coal Company in the USA. During the year ended December 31, 2009, the Company sold approximately 126.1 million tons of coal and operated 19 active mines at 11 mining complexes located in the United States. On October 1, 2009, the Company acquired Rio Tinto’s Jacobs Ranch mine with 345 million tons of coal reserves and integrated it into the Black Thunder mine.International Coal on the other hand is a small producer with a market cap of $2.2 billion previously which has managed a nearly 50% premium.Market Cap of $2.2 Billion is a producer of coal in Northern and Central Appalachia .As of December 31, 2009, the Company operated a total of 11 surface and 11 underground coal mines located in Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Illinois.The Company’s mines in Central Appalachia produced 10.1 million tons of coal in 2009, and the mines in Northern Appalachia produced 3.9 million tons of coal in 2009.

Areva the French Nuclear Giant which is known more for producing equipment for nuclear power plants is been awarded federal funding by the Australian Government to build a solar coal hybrid plant in Queensland.The 44 MW Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Plant will be built near a 750 Thermal Power Station.This will be the second solar coal hybrid plant in the world when its gets finished in 2013.Note Areva has huge plans in the Solar Thermal Technology Industry after buying startup Ausra sometimes ago.The company which is an expert in power plant equipment technology such as boilers,turbines will use its expertise to build a CSP plant adding to the power output of the Kogan Creek Thermal Station.Note the cost mentioned implies around $2.4/watt which does not seem expensive.The CSP Coal Hybrid will not require storage which will help in reducing the costs of the power plant.Note a number of Fossil Fuel Solar Hybrid Plants are being planned around the world.Almost all of these power plants use CSP Technology instead of the PV Technology.Its a valuable niche for Solar Thermal Companies to explore as they face huge competition from Solar PV which is drastically reducing its costs to reach retail electricity price equality.

Coal is the largest source of electricity supply in the world with 41% of the global power coming from the burning of coal.The Pros of Coal have made the growth of Thermal Power Plants accelerate in developing countries like China and India.This has made Coal Stocks run up by more than 150% in 2010 and another 30% in 2010.However Coal is also the greatest contributor to Greenhouse Gas Emissions.Coal is also responsible for thousands of deaths directly and indirectly due to Coal Mining and Coal Combustion which leads to waste products like Mercury,Arsenic etc which are extremely toxic to human health.To solve the twin problems of cheap energy and global warming, a number of technologies have been been proposed which would reduce the harmful effects of Coal Combustion.

Despite a number of Clean Coal Technologies being developed and employed,carbon emissions from Coal Ming and Use can only be partly reduced and will not make a major impact on the problem of Climate Change.Clean Coal Technology is not a Green Solution to the Disadvantages of Coal.Saying that implementing Clean Coal Technology will result in Climate Change Mitigation is Greenwashing.That said these technologies need to be implemented till the world is ready to move away from its addiction to cheap energy provided by Coal even though it has a deleterious long term affect.

South Africa the most economically developed country in the African continent is also is one of the most dependent countries on Coal Energy.Almost 90% of the country’s requirements of Electrcity comes from GHG emitting dirty Thermal Power Plants.Sasol which is a leading energy provider in South Africa is the global leader in Coal to Liquid and Coal to Gas Technologies.In fact most of the Fuel Production in South Africa comes from Sasol plants built long time ago to take advantage of the country’s mineral rices and avoid the oil embargo placed on the country during apartheid.The country’s electricity situation is massively mismanaged with Eskom a monopoly producer and supplier of electricity hardly adding any capacity.This is due to low prices of electricity which now is being added suddenly at 25% each year.This comes after huge shortages slowing down the economy. South Africa has also come up with new Energy Plan which will largely replace Coal Energy by Nuclear and Renewable Sources of Energy.Note South Africa had been in talks to establish a massive solar plants with funding from China which would have used Suntech Solar Panels.There were also rumors of Yingli suppling solar equipment to the country.

Market Vectors KOL ETF provides a good well diversified way to invest in Coal which is seeing a massive upsurge in demand driven by India and China.For investors looking for individual stocks here is a list of US Solar Companies and Stocks and Indian Coal Stocks.China with around 3 Billion Tons of Coal Consumption and India with another 500 million Tons depend on King Coal for majority of their Energy Needs.While China generates 80% of its Electricity from Coal,India generates around 65%.While both countries have Huge Reserves and Production of Coal,their voracious demand is leading to surging imports.These Imports are being sourced from countries like Australia,Canada and USA which are going through Coal Mining Booms.Ports are getting congested as Infrastructure failed to meet the growing coal needs of India and China..The Biggest Advantages of Coal its Abundance and Cheapness of Coal has made it the Fossil Fuel of Choice for Electricity Companies building power plants in developing countries despite its Drawbacks.This has led to a fight to secure Coal Supplies through vertical integration into buying up of coal mines,building ports and railways to transport Coal.Though India too faces some environmental opposition,massive ultra mega power plants with capacity of 4000 MW are getting built by new Indian private utilities.

Coal is the biggest source of Energy for Electricity Production in the world and its use is expected to continue to grow to 44% of the Electricity Production by 2030 (IEA).Despite Coal having many dangerous disadvantages,its Advantages of cheapness and abundance have made it the Fossil Fuel of choice.With global reserves estimated to be around 200 years,it does not have the “peak oil” characteristics as well.Though not a Coal Fan,nonetheless Coal stocks are a great investment choice due to the fact of its growing demand which is outstripping supply.China and India are massively growing their electricity,steel and cement production which requires billions of tons of coal.China consumers almost 45% of the global coal production while Indian demand is growing by leaps and demands as well.Indian Power Utilities are grabbing up Coal Mines in Africa,Australia and Asia to secure feedstock for their gigawatt thermal power plants.Despite its growing importance Coal does not have a lot of choice in terms of investment unlike Fossil Fuels like Oil and Gas.Here is a list of Coal Stocks which one can invest in and the sole Coal ETF – Market Vectors Coal ETF (KOL).