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May 16

Coal Emissions from U.S. Could Stop in 20 Years

Posted in Energy Industry | Energy Politics | Environment and Sustainability

Coal Emissions Pushker Kharecha and his colleagues believe that we should follow some practical methods to do away with coal and conventional fossil fuel emissions. We all know that use of fossil fuels leads towards carbon emissions that cause immense damage to our environment. Pushker Kharecha and colleagues voiced similar sentiments in the American Chemical Society’s semi-monthly journal Environmental Science and Technology (ES and T).

They say, “The only practical way to preserve a planet resembling that of the Holocene (today’s world) with reasonably stable shorelines and preservation of species is to rapidly phase out coal emissions and prohibit emissions from unconventional fossil fuels such as oil shale and tar sands.” This group includes scientists, engineers, and architects. They are from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the Columbia University Earth Institute, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and 2030 Inc./Architecture 2030.

They believe that United States could totally stop emissions of carbon dioxide from coal-fired electric power plants. It is not a tall talk but can be achievable within 20 years. To achieve this target one doesnā€™t have to depend on some miracle or God send technology. This can be done by using technology that already exists or could be commercially viable within a decade.

The authors suggested some strategies to make that phase-out possible. They ask for elimination of subsidies for fossil fuels. They also suggest about putting rising prices on carbon emissions. They also want major improvements in electricity transmission. They want the utilization of power in the homes, commercial buildings, and appliances to be judicious and efficient. This team is also suggesting for the replacement of coal power with biomass, geothermal, wind, solar, and third-generation nuclear power. Pushker Kharecha and colleagues also want that if nuclear power plants are a success at commercial levels then we should opt for the deployment of advanced (fourth-generation) nuclear power plants. They also advocate of the methods of carbon capture and storage at remaining coal plants.

  • http://n/a tomgarven

    Now we are talking – there is no such thing as clean coal. It’s not just about CO2; it’s all of the other stuff as well.

    One coal plant produces:

    3,700,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2),- as much carbon dioxide as cutting down 161 million trees.

    10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2), – airborne particles that can penetrate deep into lungs.

    500 tons of small airborne particles, which can cause chronic bronchitis, aggravated asthma, and premature death.

    10,200 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx), – as much as one half a million late-model cars and leads to formation of ozone (smog) which inflames the lungs, burning through lung tissue making people more susceptible to respiratory illness.

    720 tons of carbon monoxide (CO), which causes headaches and place additional stress on people with heart disease.

    220 tons of hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds (VOC), which form ozone.

    170 pounds of mercury, where just 1/70th of a teaspoon deposited on a 25-acre lake can make the fish unsafe to eat.

    225 pounds of arsenic, which will cause cancer in one out of 100 people who drink water containing 50 parts per billion.

    114 pounds of lead, 4 pounds of cadmium, other toxic heavy metals, and trace amounts of uranium.

    I will say it one more time – It’s not just about CO2!
    Quite fiddling around and stop burning the stuff.

  • Edgar

    Firstly, I disagree with carbon capture and storage. Coal is finite, coal mining causes poisons rivers and you will have to store the emissions forever. What happens if they escape?

    High altitude wind power has the ability to bypass both coal and nuclear power as a viable alternative without government subsidies. The wind at high altitudes is much stronger and more steady.

  • handson

    This sounds like an ad for nuclear power. No thank you! Give me carbon any time then nuclear waste.


    The temperature this summer was so great. Global warming is a reality that we face everyday. Even twenty years is too much to emissions. We must have social restructuring to reduce transport and energy consumption..

  • George

    Let’s hope his voice will be heard – as long as we focus on the solution and not the problem, things can only improve šŸ™‚
    … As long as there is no corruption in-between šŸ™‚

  • styke

    So, if I read correctly, they are in favor of both apple pie and motherhood.

  • Richard Fletcher

    If Pres. Obama wants to fund alternative energy resources, perhaps he should consider performing an experiment with these high altitude wind power sources.

  • tomgarven

    Well 7 excellent comments so far.

    Edgar; doesn’t like carbon capture and I agree. Carbon capture still leaves all of the other stuff I mentioned above to kill us.

    handsome; said this sounds like an ad for nuclear – and it might be however I don’t think so. I worked in the nuclear power industry for 20 yrs. and it might have a place in our future if:
    1. Smaller modular Mod. V High Temp Gas Cooled or molten salt reactors are developed – which they are not.
    2. Construction costs can be contained – which they are not.
    3. Reprocessing of existing and new waste is performed – which it is not, AND;
    4. People start picketing and asking for more nuclear power plants in their backyards – which of course they are not.

    SREEKUMAR; wants us to restructure our society and reduce energy consumption and the later is not a bad idea. Conservation is a good thing and makes not only environmental sense but also save you and me money. However if I install 10 kW of solar and have a negative carbon footprint should I have to change my life style? Don’t think so.

    George hopes his voice is heard and I do to. However I am a realist and understand it will most likely fall on deaf ears. Members of Congress only care about one thing – getting re-elected and that takes money. If you want change; become wealthy – that’s the way it works in America. Note: I did not say it was right LOL

    styke; yes I like apple pie and motherhood but don’t understand the relationship to the article. Must be my engineer thing coming out maybe.

    Richard Fletcher; wants funding for high altitude testing – did a Google search for “high altitude wind testing” and got lots of hits. It appears that the higher you go the better the wind is within reason. I am not sure how much money we are currently spending on the study of high altitude testing of wind resources?

    Lots of excellent comments – lets keep it going.

    Tom G.

  • sheckyvegas

    Pipe dream. With some of those most powerful Senators and Congressmen coming from Virginia, West Virginia, Illinois, Tennessee and Kentucky, we are NOT going to see coal go away until everybody relevant dies or the coal dries up. My money’s on the coal first…

  • WS Moonwolf

    There are alternatives to both Nuclear and Fossil Fuel besides the standard renewables; they are available NOW if we but look around us.

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