Imagini ale paginilor

In the 30 years covered by the table has come a change in the character of the demand for anthracite. In 1890 the then domestic sizes (sizes above pea) constituted 76.9 of the shipments: by 1923 this proportion had dropped to 63.7 per cent. This significant change permitted the recovery by washing of much of the small coal that in earlier years had been thrown upon the culm banks. Shipments from washeries and dredges in 1890 were only 42,000 tons. In 1923 they amounted to 4,000,000 tons.

The most significant fact of the anthracite industry is that production has shown no consistent increase since 1913. In that year 82,000,000 gross tons was produced, practically the same as the output of 1923. The record production of 1917 and 1918 included a large proportion of culm-bank coal.

TABLE 5.Growth of the anthracite mining industry, 1890–1923

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]





1890.. 1891. 1892. 1893 1894. 1895 1896. 1897 1898. 1899 1900 1901. 1902 1903. 1904. 1905. 1906. 1907. 1908 1909. 1910. 1911. 1912. 1913. 1914. 1915. 1916. 1917. 1918 1919 1920. 1921. 1922 1923.

[ocr errors]

82 82 79 75 88 86 113

76 152 139 142 132 164 158 149 161 175 178 195 188 185 202 284 336 365 434 452 274 507

126 126 129 133 132 143 149 150 146 140 144 145 148 150 156 165 162 167

124 ()

169 173 174 176 180 177 160 154 147 155 145 160 157 158

200 203 198 197 190 196 174 150 152 173 166 196 116 206 200 215 195 220 200 205 229 246 231 257 245 230 253 285 293

1. 98
2. 06
2. 10
2. 41
2. 50
2. 40
2. 37
2. 40
2. 41
2. 35
2. 18
2. 25
2. 33
2. 17
2. 13
2. 10
2. 02
2. 06
2. 19

2. 16
€ 2.27
• 2. 29

2. 14
• 2. 28

2. 09
2. 31
2. 21

769 75. 7 76. O 74.9 73. 7 69.9 70.3 68 5 67.3 66. 1 64.7 642 610 63. 6 620 60.9 59. 1 586 59.3 58.3 586 59.4 608 61.7 61.4 60.1 60.5 61.0 601 64. 2 63. 1 66.5 62.9 63. 7

.9 1.0 11 1.4 2.1 2.6 2.0 3.6 2.8 2.6 3.8 4.3 3.6 3.7 3.3 3. 2 3. 2 2.1 1.7 2.5 3.1 5,4 6.6 3.3 5.0 1.6 3. 2 4.1

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]


81 49 83

[blocks in formation]

* No data.

Less than to million tons.

• Years of heavy washing output.



Although the productive capacity and labor force of the bituminous coal mines has continued to increase since the war, the consumption has failed to increase, if indeed it has not declined. Because of the serious consequences to the labor and capital engaged in the industry, it is important to measure the rates of growth and to inquire what

causes have curtailed the expected demand. The following paragraphs are adapted, with the permission of Coal Age, from a paper by members of the United States Geological Survey.3

Since the war the demand for coal has not been growing as fast as before that time, if indeed it is now growing at all.

Anthracite production, as practically everyone knows, has shown no material increase in fresh-mined coal since 1913. Production of bituminous coal, on the contrary, showed a steady growth up to 1918. For the 20 years from the founding of the central competitive field to the end of the war the normal rate of increase of soft-coal output averaged 16,800,000 tons a year. Actual production in a given year might rise above the normal line, or fall below it (fig. 32) (Table 6), depending on the state of general business. In years of depression it dropped below; in boom years it rose above normal; but there is no mistaking the steadiness of the normal increase. It was one of the most characteristic measures of American business activity. The coal industry counted upon this steadily growing demand, and the opening of new mines and steady recruiting of new miners was the industry's means of preparing for a constantly enlarging market.

Since the war, however, the market has ceased to expand, or at best it is expanding at a much slower rate. Th largest annual output attained since the armistice was declared was 565,000,000 tons in 1923. That included 26,000,000. tons put into storage, so that the amount actually consumed or exported was only 539,000,000 tons. Had the pre-war rate of expansion continued, the market would have absorbed 614,000,000 tons. Bituminous-coal consumption in 1923, therefore, was 75,000,000 tons less than might have been expected on the basis of pre-war experience. TABLE 6.- Normal production of bituminous coal as calculated by E. E. Day and

percentage of normal produced, 1899 to 1923

[blocks in formation]

Anyone, of course, might say that this figure of 539,000,000 tons for 1923 is larger than that of any other year except 1917, 1918, and 1920, and that consequently the industry is no worse off than it was, say, in 1916.

Such a statement might be true if the industry were one of stationary capacity, as, for example, anthracite mining is. As a matter of fact, however, the capacity of bituminous mines is far from stationary. It has been growing faster since the war than before. In the five years from 1913 to 1918 the full-time productive capacity of the industry increased by 82,000,000 tons. But in the five years after the war, from 1918 to 1923, capacity increased 254,000,000 tons, or just three times

The cause of this great increase of productive facilities lay largely in the high prices of the war period and 1920, but whatever the cause, the combination of arrested demand and rapidly increasing capacity has brought about great distress. A stationary demand may be just as serious to an industry with increasing capacity as a falling demand would be to an industry with stationary capacity. It is therefore most important for the bituminous operator to understand why the expected increase in output has not materialized. There are a number of reasons.

as much.

3 Tryon, F. G., McKenney, W. F., and Finn, E. E., Relative rate of growth show' further inroads of oil on coal consumption: Coal Age, vol. 27, Jan. 15, 1925.

One reason is that business in general in the United States probably has not increased at quite the same pace as before 1918. Business certainly has grown faster than the demand for coal would indicate, but probably not quite as fast as before. Even America could not escape entirely from the after effects of the war.

Another reason is that the high prices of fuel from 1917 to 1920 stimulated an interest in fuel economy such as was never felt before. The results have been remarkable. Progress in the design of fuel-burning equipment has been matched by more care in firing. It is not possible to say just how many tons of coal have been saved in the aggregate, but there are straws which show the direction of the wind. Beehive coking, which wastes 33 per cent of the heat in the coal, has been largely replaced by the by-product process, which recovers all but 10

Consumption of railroad fuel per thousand ton-miles has fallen notably. In 1913 it took 2,433 pounds of coke to make a ton of pig iron, whereas in 1922 the work was done with 2,176 pounds. The coal consumption per kilowatt-hour produced by electric utilities dropped from 3.2 pounds in 1919 to 2.4 pounds in 1923, or 25 per cent in five years.

per cent.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

FIGURE 32.-Annual production of bituminous coal and line of normal trend, 1899–1923, as computed by

E. E. Day. The normal growth of production from 1899 to 1919 was computed by Professor Day at 16,800,000 tons a year. Since 1919 thís rate of increase has not been maintained, chiefly because of the great depression of 1921 and the strike of 1922, but also apparently because the slope of the line of normal growth is changing

Great as have been economies in fuel utilization, however, they are not sufficient to account for all of the slowing up in coal demand. Another cause, and one whose importance the industry has not fully sensed, is competition of other fuels and power sources.

It is to this cause that this article is addressed. There has been much talk recently of the “fuel-oil menace," and various attempts have been made to measure the displacement of coal by fuel oil. We made such an attempt a few years ago and concluded that from April, 1919, to June, 1920, the quantity of coal actually displaced at plants that changed over from coal to fuel oil has been less than 2 per cent of the total consumption of coal. Other observers, considering the years 1922 and 1923, have estimated the actual replacement at about 5 per cent. But this actual replacement at plants that changed over from one fuel to another, even if it could be measured accurately, tells only a part of the story. It does not show the large amount of potential new business which would fall to coal were there not other means of accomplishing the same work which at the moment appeared cheaper.

Gasoline is meeting a demand that otherwise would have fallen to coal, if not directly then indirectly, through the medium of electricity. The world's potential appetite for power and heat would not be less if there were no gasoline. It would merely seek satisfaction in some other way. Coal, though somewhat more costly and less convenient, could largely have satisfied that demand. Con

sider, for example, the enormous expansion of automotive transportation. Had gasoline not been available, we should have provided not millions of automobiles and thousands of miles of highway, but light railroads and electric traction lines instead. The electric vehicle, whose growth has been arrested by cheap gasoline, would have met a large part of the present requirement for automotive transportation, and its batteries would have been charged with coal-produced energy.

New water-power developments reduce by just so much the potential demand for coal power. This invisible competition between the several sources of power is fully as significant as the visible substitution of fuel oil in a plant originally built to burn coal. The question is really, "Is the country's aggregate demand for power and heat-or 'energy, to use a single word-falling or rising? How much of that aggregate demand is being met by means of coal? How much by means of fuel oil, gasoline, kerosene, and natural gas? How much by means of falling water?” The problem is largely one of measuring the relative rates of growth of these sources of energy.

Table 7 shows the total supply of energy available in the United States excluding the small amounts furnished by firewood and work animals. To combine water power, oil, and coal it is necessary to have a common denominator. For this purpose the heating value in British thermal units of the fuels will suffice, and in the table the total production of each fuel has been converted into trillions of British thermal units. The figures for oil and gas were courteously furnished by G. B. Richardson, of the Geological Survey. Water power is represented in the table by the British thermal units of fuel which it would have been necessary to burn in order to give the same amount of power. Natural gas, in the early years before the accurate record begins, is represented by the estimated quantity of coal displaced by, gas. The table goes back to 1819, to the very beginning of coal mining, in order to show the trend. Up to 1913 every tenth year is shown. Beginning with 1918 the record for each year is given. TABLE 7.-Annual supply of energy from mineral fuels and water power, 1819–1923 [Figures represent trillions of British thermal units, and because of rounding do not always add across exactly. Water power is represented by British thermal unit of coal necessary to produce the same amount of power. Figures represent production, and those for oil imports take no account of changes of stocks)

[blocks in formation]

• No figures for water power are available prior to 1889. The fuel equivalent for water power is calculated from the reported horsepower of installed water wheels, assuming a capacity factor of 20 per cent for manufactures and mines and of 40 per cent for public utilities, and assuming that the theoretical thermal equivalent of 1 horsepower-hour (2,547 British thermal units) is 7 per cent of the British thermal units that would have been consumed in generating 1 horsepower-hour from fuels in practice. For 1919 to 1923, however, actual reports of the horsepower-hours produced by water in electric utility plants have been used.

Less than 0.5. e No data,

Based on the amount of coal displaced by gas as estimated by the gas companies at the time. • Were allowance made for additions to stocks of coal and oil in 1923, the energy for that year would appear less.

• The unit heat values employed in this calculation are as follows: Anthracite, 13,600 British thermal units per pound; bituminous coal (with due allowance for lignite), 13,100 British thermal units per pound; qil, 6,000,000 British thermal units per barrel; and natural gas, 1,075 British thermal units per cubic foot.

Figures showing trillions of British thermal units are not intelligible to anyone, even to fuel chemists, but their meaning becomes clear in Table 8, which shows the relative rates of growth. If the supply of any one of the competing sources of power in 1918 is expressed by the number 100, then the supply in any other year can be easily expressed as an index number or percentage of the base year, and in this way the rates of growth of the several competitors can be quickly compared.

TABLE 8.-Relative rates of growth of coal, oil, and water power, 1819–1923

[The figures for the year 1918 are represented by the number 100, and the figures for all other years are

expressed as a percentage of the 1918 rate)

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

It would be misleading to contrast years like 1919, 1921, or 1922, which were marked by strikes or general business depression, with the prosperous year 1918. Instead let us take 1923, when general business was booming and the coal market was stimulated by the demand for extra tonnage to build up the depleted stocks. In comparison with 1918, the output of anthracite in 1923 had fallen 6 points and is represented by the number 94; the output of bituminous coal had fallen 3 points and is represented by 97..

Contrast this with the change in oil and gas. Production of domestic oil had more than doubled, rising to the index number 205. Natural gas shows a large increase. Imported oil, which has now become a large factor in the energy supply of the country, rose to three times the 1918 rate in 1922, and even in 1923 stood at index number 218. Thus, while the total supply of coal had declined in importance, the total supply of oil and gas had greatly increased. Adding together all the oil and all the gas, their sum in 1923 was 91 per cent above that in 1918.

Even water power has shown a material increase. There is no complete information as to the number of horsepower-hours produced from water, but the best estimates available indicate that they rose from 1918 to 1923 by 30 or 35 per cent.

Now by combining all the sources of power into one index number, we can tell whether the country's total demand for power has been declining. If the total heat units contributed in 1918 by coal, oil, gas, and water power put together are represented by the number 100, then the heat units contributed in 1923 by all these sources are represented by the number 112.

In other words, the total energy consumption of the country instead of falling off in 1923 showed an increase of 12 points over even 1918. As shown by the slope of the curve for total energy in Figure 33, the trend of growth from 1918 to 1923 is a not unnatural prolongation of that before 1918. Remembering that this index represents energy units produced, without regard to the fact that utilization in the meantime has become more efficient, it appears that the country's appetite for power and heat has continued to increase at a rate very close to normal,

« ÎnapoiContinuă »