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Clean Coal: Reality or Rhetoric? 

Abstract

What is Clean Coal?

Is it Really Clean?

Clean Coal Technologies

Clean Coal in the Media

The Cost of Clean Coal

Case Studies

Conclusion
References & Links


 Comments & questions to:
 mmayfie1@macalester.edu



Clean Coal: Reality or Rhetoric?

Conclusion

 It is clear that citizens do not want polluting, carbon-producing power plants to be built in their backyard or anywhere else where they can contribute to global warming and climate change. It is also clear that coal plants that do not produce carbon, those with carbon-capture and storage, are not currently available, and those plants, such as IGCC ones, that could later be adapted for this technology if it does become readily available are considered too expensive to build. Thus, we are at an impasse where so-called clean coal is concerned. However, even if IGCC plants were not too expensive to build and carbon sequestration were readily available, clean coal would still not be the solution to our energy problems. Clean coal plants are only a short-term fix for our energy woes, and they still produce numerous environmental problems involving the extraction of the coal itself and the emission of pollutants, though less than regular coal plants. The bottom line is that coal is not a renewable source of energy. We cannot continue to use it forever, and while we do use it, we create innumerable additional problems for ourselves. While perhaps research of carbon capture and sequestration should not be abandoned entirely, in the meantime, we should not create any more coal plants that are going to further contribute to the carbon content of the atmosphere and further climate change. Ultimately, we must find and implement an alternative energy source that is renewable – that won’t run out in 200 years like coal will - and for which we do not have to create new technologies to reduce emissions for because it already is naturally clean. Maybe the money spent trying to convince Americans that coal is now clean, when really that prospect is distorted and currently unattainable, should be spent instead on promoting alternative, renewable energy – not coal. 


solarpower

 Figure 9: Solar Panels, a form of truly clean, renewable      energy.

    windpower
 Figure 10: Wind power, another source of clean, renewable  energy

Last updated:  5/9/2008

 


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