As much of Europe faces an energy crisis, some countries are shifting away from natural gas energy and toward coal energy, which could help bolster the Virginia economy through coal exports from the commonwealth’s ports.
“With the energy issues in Europe, we anticipate Virginia’s coal exports will likely increase further, but so will Europe’s demand for other sources of energy,” Suzanne Clark, a spokesperson for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, told The Center Square.
Virginia is the country’s largest exporter of coal by far. The Port of Virginia in Norfolk accounts for about 60% of the country’s coal exports, which has effects on the statewide and local economies. The commonwealth exported about $3.2 billion worth of coal in 2021.
“These exports are an important driver of Virginia’s economy, which benefits not just from the jobs and investment supported by the coal-producing companies,” Clark added, “but also the indirect jobs supported by coal production, including transportation and logistics for transporting it to the point of export and loading it onto ships for export.”
Coal exports have already grown in recent years, but the recent problems in Europe could lead to another spike. From 2020 to 2021, Virginia’s coal exports increased by about 110%. Clark said much of these hikes were from global demand for metallurgical coal used for steel production and thermal coal used for heating.
As many European countries are running low on energy sources as their natural gas stockpiles are diminishing and Russia continues to significantly cut off the continent’s natural gas supply, some countries have already started to fall back on coal as their options are running low. This is a departure from previous attempts from the European Union to scale back coal production because of concerns about climate change.
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- On November 15, 2022