If we do not burn coal to produce energy, it does not mean we cannot use it for other purposes. With our new technological wizardry, coal can take the place of wood in almost all applications, not to mention lots of metal, plastic and other materials.
Imagine not cutting down forests anymore and not burning coal anymore. Industry and Wall Street are beginning to gear up for a new materials future (Cabot Corp; Global Carbon). Coal used as a non-burning resource will likely drive the expansion of a new carbon-based industries that will replace wood-based, metal-based and plastic-based products such as furniture, utility poles, home-construction materials, beams, ropes, industrial belts, car bodies and a host of other products. Carbon-formulated resin chairs could support the weight of an elephant, last a hundred years, and be attractive.
Such carbon products could also be used in space exploration and human habitation off-world to protect astronauts and colonists from many forms of radiation and from high energy particles using especially dense and strong forms of carbon materials and fibers. Such new carbon technology would also offer ultra-strong carbon-fiber belts for use in the space-elevator and other equipment.