What is one of the most important uses of coal? You guessed it right; it is used for producing power. So are the implemented technologies safe and possess no harm to the environment? People refer to this as clean coal, but critics think otherwise. Let us delve into the details.
Ever since the 1980s, the term ‘clean coal’ has been in use. What impression does this give you? That coal is clean and harmless? Actually, this may be a bit far from reality. Dig into the term more, and you will realize that ‘clean coal’ refers to the removal of carbon dioxide and other harmful gases that are created when coal is burned. According to stats, over 26% of electricity in the world is produced by coal. In the process, increased quantities of carbon dioxide are released which account to nearly 43% of all emissions.
Coal can be mined in a number of ways, but whichever of these is implemented, water pollution is caused. Lower grade coal is refined by water, but ground water is also polluted because of it. This translates into streams as well and even the soil through which water passes.
Pick up a number of researches and you will come to know that pyrite, which is found in coal, is the main cause of acid rain. Are there any other consequences? A study claims that nearly 5.9 million acres of land was destroyed because of strip mining in the past century, from 1930 to 2000. So why is this land regarded as destroyed? Because it only has a 30% rate of success if it is seeded again.
We have already mentioned that coal produces carbon dioxide gas. Are any other dangerous products formed in the process? Huge quantities of ash and sludge are also produced. Moreover, coal also has an impact on the air quality.
A study claims that a 500 megaton plant is suitable for powering a city comprising of 140,000 people. But how much pollution is caused when coal is burned? The figures accumulate to more than 125,000 tons of ash and even more quantities of sludge.
The Reasoning behind the Name
If coal production has so many drawbacks, why is the term ‘clean coal’ in use? This is just a marketing tactic so that people opt to use it for their energy source. After all, producing energy this way is economical. But is the low price worth the harm involved?