Posted by: doug308 | December 21, 2010

Can Coal Make A Come Back?

All of the talk in the energy sector lately has general been about the resurgence of nuclear power or renewable energy sources like bio mass, wind and solar. However, without question the major energy source we have available to us is coal. And in comparison to other forms of energy it’s relatively cheap. Unfortunately, the majority of coal mined in the world is bituminous or “soft coal” which releases lots and lots of nasty chemicals into the atmosphere and environmental concerns make its use increasingly frowned upon.

Technology is fighting back on the pollutants front though and facilities such as Illinois’s Prairie State Energy Campus are beginning the large scale application of these technologies. The upside of this being that these sorts of plants will have a source of fuel that should last easily for hundreds of years and remain reasonably cheap. The downside is that like any new technology it is operationally relatively unproven on a large scale and requires both a sizeable amount of investment and a little faith to put together.

So here’s the question. Has coal’s reputation been sufficiently sullied to keep the use of high sulfur coal on the back burner (pardon the pun)? Or will the cost and up time for new nuclear plants make the development of “clean coal” technologies a must in order to keep up with global energy demands? My own opinion is that there will ultimately need to be a mix of various types of power generation methods to meet global needs and that the supply of bituminous coal needs to be utilized some how. So, what’s your opinion? Will King Coal retain his throne?


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