In Coal in your stock-car former City Journal editor Edward John Craig celebrates Planet Gore's New Math :
Anne Korin from the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security responds to a reader's question about coal:
One pound of coal is about the amount of energy required to light a 40 watt bulb for 24 hours. One pound of coal generates about one kilowatt-hour of power, which depending on the weight of a vehicle will provide 2-6 miles worth of driving in a plug in hybrid.
Since a gallon of gas weighs about 7 pounds , this seems to be just a restatement of the heat of combustion- and hence the energy content of the fuel, without any attempt to reckon conversion losses.
Were it so simple, a $50 dollar ton of coal would deliver 4,000 to 12,000 miles of driving equal to roughly $1,000 to $2,500 worth of gasoline, depending on whether a compact or an SUV is at issue . Since that much gas- say 250 to 750 gallons, far outstrips the realistic yield of less energetic methanol a ton of coal produces-- according to Korin,
" about 121 gallons of methanol. Energy content wise, that's about equivalent to 60 gallons of gasoline. So for a car that gets X miles per gallon of gasoline, running on coal to methanol yields about X/33 miles per pound of coal. Less miles per pound than electricity"
Clearly her argument is confused- if coal electricity could function as the equivalent of twenty cent a gallon gasoline, America would get around in a mixed fleet of electrics and Stanley Steamers. If we had gigajoule batteries weighing under a ton, and a good five cent gearbox for a turbofan.