In spite of the great gains currently being made in developing alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar power, coal continues to be the fuel of choice for electricity generation because it is domestically abundant and affordable. New technology makes it possible to use coal to generate electricity and still meet today’s stringent environmental standards. A new approach, sometimes called “clean coal technology,” makes it possible to wash and clean coal to remove contaminants, and turn solid coal into gas or liquid.
Americans are not alone in relying on coal to meet the growing demand for energy. The U.S. government predicts that the world coal consumption will increase from 114.5 quadrillion BTUs in 2004 to 199.1 quadrillion in 2030, at an average annual rate of 2.2%. In addition, coal’s share of total world energy use is projected to increase from 26% in 2004 to 28% in 2030. Since coal is abundant in America and less expensive than other fuels used to make electricity, the economics of using coal to generate electricity makes sense. In the State of Ohio, for instance, the average retail price of coal is $0.07/kilowatt hour.
Huge trucks make easy work of transporting coal among the world’s largest reserves.
Ohio is ranked 25th out of 50 states for coal consumption. Coal provides 85.8% of Ohio’s power, more than eight times as much as any other source. The percentages of electric power capacity in Ohio: petroleum = 0.7%, natural gas = 2.6%, nuclear = 10.2%, hydroelectric = 0.3%, and other renewables = 0.3%
There is more than $12 billion in clean coal research underway in 43 states, even those not normally associated with coal production. Our 200-year coal supply tops the Middle East’s oil reserves. And at one-third the cost of other fossil fuels, coal-based electricity provides affordable power during tough economic times. In the last 30 years, the U.S. has used technologies to drive emissions reductions, ensuring that we meet the challenge of reducing emissions without putting our economy at risk. What’s more, a recent study shows that energy costs are eating up more of American family budgets. Coal’s role in our affordable, low-carbon energy has never been more important.
Filed Under: Energy management + harvesting, Green engineering