Last Update: July 25, 2015

Coal as a source of electricity or conversion into synthetic crude oil

Clean coal? Misnomer? History of Coal Use

As a former resident of Kentucky, a Coal state, in the back of my mind is a phrase from frequent public service announcements: Coal, Kentucky's Ace in the Hole.  Coal is a very dirty fuel, it's essentially a rock that can burn. Burning coal leaves behind extremely toxic residues, and the soot from burning coal is implicated in acid rain, greenhouse gas emissions and much more. But it is a cheap and plentiful fuel, that was the original impetus for the Industrial Revolution. It's low cost is what keeps coal the preferred fuel for the electricity we consume.

Many ( criticize electric cars for being Coal Powered which means we must understand how Coal is extracted, its uses, the benefits, the costs, etc. Somehow the same critique of gasoline cars is not made. It's only for electric cars where the full impact of their fuel is scrutinized. Coal and Crude Oil and Gasoline and other fossil fuel products have similar problems in that fossil fuel extraction is inextricably bound up with huge environmental and health problems.

Worldwide Coal supply (200 years?)

America's abundant coal reserves - The coal we rely upon is found right here at home, and we have a more than 200-year supply based upon today's rate of usage [DeptOfEnergy]

The United States has more recoverable coal than any other nation; the 272 billion tons of coal reserves in the United States represent one-quarter of the world's total estimated coal supply. There is more energy potential in America's coal than in all the oil of the Middle East. In fact, America's recoverable coal has the energy content equivalent of a trillion barrels of oil, a figure roughly comparable to all the world's known oil reserves. At current rates of consumption, U.S. coal reserves will last at least another 200 years.

Coal is also America's energy "workhorse." It supplies more electricity to U.S. homes and businesses than all other fuels combined, accounting for more than half the Nation's electric power supply.

Furthermore, coal may make a major contribution to the Nation's transition to the hydrogen economy of tomorrow. Hydrogen can be obtained from a variety of sources, but today, the most abundant resource - and one of the most affordable - is coal.

Effects of coal mining

  • Mountain top removal (destruction)
  • Coal mining
  • Black lung
  • Strip mining

Energy security

Coal is largely consumed in the countries it is produced in? Or how big is the export market for coal? also promote greater U.S. energy security.

Burning coal for heat or electricity

and our continued use of coal to generate electricity

Environmental effects of burning coal

as coal use grows, a new generation of advanced technologies will be deployed to further reduce emissions from coal-based power plants technology will need to include advanced technologies to capture and safely store carbon dioxide

operating experience that can lead to widespread deployment of new, advanced coal-use technologies to improve the efficiency and environmental performance of coal-generated electricity, such as integrated gasification combined cycle, ultra-supercritical pulverized coal and oxy fuel plants

Conversion of coal into synthetic crude oil

Conversion of coal into synthetic crude oil


Changes in coal consumption rates

EIA figures also show that coal consumption will increase both domestically and internationally

About the Author(s)

David Herron : David Herron is a writer and software engineer focusing on the wise use of technology. He is especially interested in clean energy technologies like solar power, wind power, and electric cars. David worked for nearly 30 years in Silicon Valley on software ranging from electronic mail systems, to video streaming, to the Java programming language, and has published several books on Node.js programming and electric vehicles.

Coal as a source of electricity or conversion into synthetic crude oil

Clean coal? Misnomer? History of Coal Use
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