Coal is a natural resource which availability is abundant. It has been utilized for producing energy worldwide for hundreds years. Within past few years, demand of coal increased, beating its competitive power-generation resources, namely fuel and gas. These are responsible to great demand of coal, particularly from power-hungry countries like India and China. These countries use coal to boost their economy via industrial revolution which requires huge amount of power and electricity.
Nevertheless, coal has never been clean. Coal mining and heat generation from coal are devastatingly dirty. To extract coal from the mines, thousands of trees are cut down. More and more green fields are disappears due to open cast mining, coal transportation, and storage. Underground mining can also be considered as filthy and intolerably dangerous as well. Furthermore, coal combustion also brings lots of environmental issues. Besides heat, coal combustion emits carbon dioxide even carbon monoxide (as a result of incomplete combustion), harmful gases for human and the earth. CO2 is often blamed for global increase of temperature, well-known as greenhouse effect. Gas produced from incomplete combustion, CO, is responsible for death poisoning and further health concerns. In addition, coal-firing also produces SOx and NOx emissions due to sulfur and nitrogen content within the coal. These emissions make the rivers and the oceans acid, as well as the buildings crumble. There is no wonder that some of environmental concerns stated that coal is far more dangerous than its competitive fossil fuel resource, i.e. oil and natural gas, and more even than nuclear.
But don’t you, guys, realize that coal has brought huge positive effects instead of bad impacts which we have already discussed previously. Coal brings huge global economic improvement, at least due to these two possible reasons. Firstly, coal enables industries worldwide to generate cheap energy to support its work. Cheap price of coal and simple power generation technique provided makes industries spend less money for supporting their performance. The lower the production cost is, the more profit they gain. This profit is necessary to enlarge the industries, themselves. This, of course, requires more and more employees to be hired. Thus, secondly, coal helps to boost economic condition of a country as more and more employees are hired. As unemployment decreases, criminal number decreases and the government becomes happy… and politics become more … well frankly I don’t know since you know… politics is quite complicated for me. But, anyway, people make more money and everyone is happy, but maybe the environmentalists are not.
There have been lots of debates about clean coal.
Can coal ever be clean? (Source: http://www.gbce.com/en)
Even my tutors more likely joke about it, because they believe that
even when you wash or rub it hard enough, there is no chance that it can be clean (white) cause it will remain black (not literally black).
Yet, some just do not believe it. Even they invest huge amount of money for finding out a new era of technology for coal power plant utilization without causing so much harms for the earth and humans. They believe the benefits of coal utilization can outweigh the harms by minimizing the possible negative impacts that might appear. Researches of carbon capture have been done and they come up with new possibility of technology to plant this carbon into the earth, hoping this carbon might be the new source of future coal. But, of course, this coal can never be used for present days since coal formation requires thousand years. (Source: National Geographic Magazine (04/2014) ). Some of them also find some new technologies to minimize emissions of sulfur and nitrogen, such as FBC (fluidized bed combustion) technology for power plant, etc. Some tries to limit coal uses for power plant. So, instead of using coal combustion to generate heat and energy, they use alternative resources such as hydro, geothermal, solar, wind, and so on and so forth.
Yet, the world has been already damaged nowadays. No one knows when this earth can resist damages which human live have already made, and God only knows it. But this effort, I believe, is worth more than if you do nothing til the apocalypse comes.