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Coal As An Alternative Energy Source Environmental Sciences Essay

The dictionary meaning of alternative is offering a choice of second possibility in other words it is something like replacement. In our case coal is good alternative source of energy as it can replace most of the energy sources that are in existence.

Alternative source of energy is a huge term that refers to any source of usable energy intended to replace fuel sources without the undesired consequences of the replaced fuels.

The term depicts or reflects a set of energy technologies and fields which are alternate of each other and so on. As such, the list of energy sources excluded is an indication of what problems that the alternative technologies are facing. Controversies regarding dominant sources of energy and their alternatives have a long history because as the time is changing the needs and sources are also varying day by day. Today the nature of what were regarded alternative energy sources has changed considerably over time and it has become controversial issue because of the variety of energy choices so defining some energy types as "alternative" is highly controversial.

As a whole , alternative energy is that which is produced without the undesirable consequences of the burning of fossil fuels, such as high carbon dioxide emissions, which is considered to be the major contributing factor of global warming according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Sometimes, this less comprehensive meaning of ‘alternative energy’ excludes nuclear energy

It is almost fixed that coal will have a future as a good alternative energy source. We have enough reserves of coal that can last for at least 200 years but only rate of consumption will be in our control. However, coal reserves are spread more equitably around the world than oil reserves; the united States have the largest reserves all over the world. Also it has a good future because it is very inexpensive as other possible energy sources. Coal is inexpensive to extract and to use to produce electricity. However, some factors make the future of coal appear to drop. There are some technical limitations present when using coal as an energy source. For example, it cannot be used for transport purposes unless it is used in electric vehicles. There are also some ecological issues to contend with.

The need for an energy alternative has most nations looking in all directions, and one of those is coal as an energy source. Many experts see coal as viable alternative source of energy. It is not known as the cleanest means of producing energy, but it is a cheaper alternative.

The future of coal as an energy source is yet unknown, but there are many predictions for how it may be implemented. For countries with rising oil prices, it is predictable that coal may become a cheaper source of energy. It is also predicted that the total primary coal energy consumption should remain about the same for another two decades, and then slowly begin to increase.

There are some problems with the cleanliness of coal, which causes a vast amount of pollution, but treating the combustion fumes can solve these problems. However, coal is still a great producer of CO2, and with most nations trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, this could scupper any plans of using it as an alternative energy source.

Coal is a notorious pollutant containing sulphur which gives off sulphur dioxide when it is burned. Once it is in the atmosphere, sulphur dioxide becomes sulphur acid, which are an irritant to the lungs and a main component to acid rain. Coal also has many other disadvantages that put its future as an alternative energy source in doubt.

Burning coal produces CO2, which is a well known greenhouse gas that is very harmful to the environment. There is no solution to the CO2 that comes from burning coal, so this may cause it to go to the back of the line as a possible alternative energy source. Therefore, countries that are trying to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, would not seek to increase coal consumption, because it would defeat their purposes. On the other hand, countries that are not concerned with greenhouse gases will only increase their coal consumption in the coming years.

Coal is not the perfect alternative energy source, but it is a possibility. Technological research is developing rapidly all over the world and there are many research programs in action today, including, research on the gasification of coal to produce hydrogen for fuel cells, and the capture and confinement of CO2.

The future of coal as an alternative energy source is unclear, and there are some countries that are willing to settle more than others. The future of coal as an energy source may be dependent on a country’s needs or requirements and, even more so, their concerns.

Environmental Impacts of the Use of Coal

Because coal contains more carbon per unit of energy than other fossil fuels, it will produce more carbon dioxide per unit of electric power production than petroleum or natural gas. Electrical utilities, being the largest consumers of coal, are the largest sources of CO2 emissions from coal

The only practical way to prevent CO2 levels from going far into the dangerous range, with disastrous effects for humanity and other inhabitants of the planet, is to phase out use of coal except at power plants where the CO2 is captured and sequestered

If CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants continue to rise at rates projected by the U.S. energy information administration, it will be impossible for the United States to achieve the steep economy-wide emissions reductions it needs to have a reasonable chance of avoiding the worst effects of climate change

Transporting coal from where it is mined to where it will be burned also produces significant quantities of air pollution and other environmental harms. Diesel-burning trucks, trains, and barges that transport coal release NOx, SOx, PM, VOCs (volatile organic chemicals), CO, and CO2 into the earth’s atmosphere

The Legacy of Coal Mining

Nearly 150 years and some 13 billion tons of coal later, it's strikingly obvious that the great wealth of natural resources in West Virginia has been anything but a blessing. Rather than bringing riches, it has brought poverty, sickness, environmental devastation and despair.

Much of the surface mining - more accurately mountaintop removal - slices off several hundred feet of the mountaintops, uncovering entire seams of coal.

Mining causes widespread deforestation, soil erosion, water shortages and pollution, smoldering coal fires and the emission of greenhouse gases. Massive excavation operations strip land bare, lower water tables, generate huge waste mountains and blanket surrounding communities with dust particles and debris.

Despite coal being the most abundant and cheapest of the carbon based sources of energy, and despite the coal industry earning the benefits of “clean coal”, the fact that the role of coal in energy production is now confined to electrical generation gives hope that the negative environmental legacy of coal can be reduced. Alternative sources of energy, such as hydro, nuclear and wind power are ideally suited to generate electricity.

Application and future prospective

Coal as an alternative to wood

Coal gasification as an alternative to petroleum

Coal is not the perfect alternative energy source, but it is a possibility. Technological research is developing rapidly all over the world and there are many research programs in action today, including, research on the gasification of coal to produce hydrogen for fuel cells, and the capture and confinement of CO2.

The future of coal as an alternative energy source is unclear, and there are some countries that are willing to settle more than others. The future of coal as an energy source may be dependent on a country’s needs or requirements and, even more so, their concerns.

The world reserves of coal are large enough to last two hundred years, but only at their current rate of consumption. However, coal reserves are spread more equitably around the world than oil reserves, with the United States having the largest reserves. It also has a promising future because it is not as expensive as other possible energy sources. Coal is inexpensive to extract and to use to produce electricity. However, some factors make the future of coal appear to be bleak. There are some technical limitations present when using coal as an energy source. For example, it cannot be used for transport purposes unless it is used in electric vehicles and the most important thing is that trees will nowhere to be seen in next thirty to forty years so in conclusion we can’t have any access to the coal energy.

America and other nations face an unprecedented transportation fuel crisis. Petroleum fuel, a life blood of our economy for almost 100 years, is entering a sustained period of supply shortage due to huge demand increases from growing economies in Asia and elsewhere. This new demand is here to stay and likely to intensify, causing more price increases, price volatility, political manipulation of oil supplies, and global instability as competition for dwindling supplies intensifies. This is already impacting our energy, economic, and homeland security. Government, commercial, and finance leaders around the world are now taking action.

Since one solution is unlikely, a suite of new technologies and energy sources will be needed to address the challenge. One of those solutions is carbon-to-liquids technology, which the U.S. Department of Energy projects could supply 10% of the nation's transportation fuel in just 20 years. As new fuels and technologies like this are developed and deployed, the challenge we must meet is that they be more sustainable and less of a burden on the environment than current technologies.

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