In India, as in much of the developing world, it is labor that is cheap and machinery and gasoline that are expensive. This situation is dramatically visible on India’s Meghalaya Plateau where miners dig out coal deposits by hand.
Coal is plentiful on the Meghalaya Plateau. In some places, as seen below, a large vein of coal can be observed just sitting on the surface:
Below are the homes of some coal miners in Meghalaya:
Some miners cleaning off in a stream… The man in the foreground is a truck driver that came to pick up a load of coal:
After being clawed out of the ground, the coal is hauled to a facility, such as this one pictured below, where it is loaded onto trucks (such as the one driven by the gentleman in the picture above):
That coal is then trucked directly to power plants and factories such as this cement plant:
It is dirty and low-tech, but one truth that few people watching the energy space seem to grasp is that the world will not shift away from its absolute dependence on coal any time soon — certainly not in the first half of this century, and probably not in the second, either. Coal provides half the U.S. electricity supply, and an even higher percentage of China’s. Cleaner natural gas can and will provide a sharply growing percentage of the fuel needed to produce electricity, and more nuclear power plants will be built. But coal’s unfortunate advantages — its plenitude, its cost, its carbon density — all put it leagues ahead of the competition.