Burning Questions

Energy Breakdown

The argument against the use of coal for electricity can be arranged into three main categories: it causes climate change, it doesn’t deliver energy efficiently (non renewable), and it’s destroying the public’s health. Coal and environmentalists have been at odds over these topics and much more for many years. Instead of just pointing the finger of blame at a group or an idea, let’s talk about alternatives and possible solutions to the problems at hand.

Saying Good Bye

Phasing out coal plants would take a lot of consideration. It wouldn’t be an easy task to say the least. Several things to think about are: timelines and comparative costs to replace coal-fired power, timelines and costs to transfer alternative power over from coal-fired power, timelines and costs for transmission lines of new power from coal power, and the job losses and unemployment associated with the shutdown of coal plants. No matter how you look at it, the U.S. is deeply rooted with coal. To be successful in the phasing out of coal plants, every angle would need to be considered.

Clean Coal & Carbon Capture

The idea behind Clean Coal technology is actually a collection of technologies that are being developed to mitigate the negative aspects of coal-fire generation. In particular, the atmospheric problems associated from the release of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) during coal burning. There are three phases to Carbon Capture: Capture, Transport, and Storage. A Carbon Capture plant would capture the CO2 and SO2 before it was released into the atmosphere, separate them, and compress the CO2 into a liquid. The CO2 would then be injected into depleted natural gas fields and other geologic formations underground.

Renewable Energies

Fossil fuels are non-renewable energy sources, meaning they are from resources that are finite and will eventually dwindle and run out. Renewable energies, such as solar and wind, will never run out. Other examples of renewable energies are geothermal, ocean (tidal), and bioenergy.

Types of Solar Energy include: photovoltaic-producing energy directly from sunlight, solar hot water-heating water from solar energy, solar electricity-using the sun to generate electricity, and passive solar heating and daylighting-using solar energy to heat and light buildings.

Wind Energy is one of the oldest renewable energies. Windmills have been around for centuries. Today, wind energy is used to generate electricity in much the same way it was used as a mill long ago. When the wind blows, a propeller is turned and creates energy.

Geothermal Energy uses the heat from the Earth. It is used to heat and cool buildings and even some homes. Geothermal Direct Use produces heat directly from hot water within the Earth.

Ocean energy comes in two forms: thermal and mechanical. Thermal energy comes from the ocean as it covers 70% of the planet. The upper part of the ocean’s water is heated from the sun and is warmer than the deep oceans cool temperatures. This temperature difference creates thermal energy and is used to generate electricity. Mechanical energy comes from the ocean’s waves and tides.

Follow the link to peer-reviewed studies about coal and alternatives:


Visit the Carbon Capture & Storage Association’s site:


Visit the Global Carbon Capture & Storage Institute’s site:


Visit the EPA’s site on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Sequestration:


Visit the U.S. government’s site on renewable energy:


Visit the National Renewable Energy Laboratory:


Visit the Renewable Energy World’s site:


“Coal Phase out.” The Center for Media and Democracy, n.d. 15 Apr 2014


“Types of Solar Energy.” Renewable Energy World, n.d. 15 Apr 2014


“Alternatives to Coal.” Coal Swarm, n.d.15 Apr 2014





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