Publication Detail

Future Impacts of Coal Distribution Constraints on Coal Costs



Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS)

Suggested Citation:
McCollum, David L. and Joan M. Ogden (2009) Future Impacts of Coal Distribution Constraints on Coal Costs. Transportation Research Part E 45 (3), 460 - 471

This study seeks to identify potential capacity constraints within the US rail network that could limit expanded use of coal for electricity generation and hydrogen fuel production. We estimate the costs of alleviating those constraints under various scenarios of future coal demand growth. By 2050, coal transportation is projected to increase 35–90% necessitating rail capital investments of $1.5–11.0 billion. These investments are within the range of historical expenditures in the railroad industry, so it is unlikely that delivered prices of coal will necessarily increase or that rail capacity will be a barrier to a future coal-based ‘‘Hydrogen Economy”.