Coal plants, both here in the US and abroad, are the dirtiest when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions but, for some reason, don’t get the attention they rightly deserve in climate change discussion.
In the United States, there are about 6,000 power-generation facilities, providing the energy we need, as a society, to function. Depending on the technology, power plants may emit different amounts of greenhouse gases. Renewable energy source are exceptionally clean, including hydro-, solar-, and wind-power. [Nuclear power emits no greenhouse gases, but has its own special problems.] Emitting more greenhouse gases are natural gas and oil plants. At the bottom of the pile are coal plants.
New data, released by the United States Energy Information Administration [EIA], shows where our power is coming from, a grand mix of sources, everything from coal plants to concentrating solar power [CSP] plants.
United States’ greenhouse gas emissions, of course, include those from transportation and industry, but a large chunk of that, 41%, is generated by power plants. Take the top 100 greenhouse-gas-emitting power plants in the Nation, and all but two of them are coal plants. Take the top 50, all of which are coal plants, and they would rank 7th in the world of top greenhouse-gas-emitting nations.
Granted, coal plants are exceptionally cheap to build and maintain. After all, the concept goes back centuries but, when everything is considered, it is really that cheap? Coal plants can be made cleaner, such as with the addition of carbon-capture devices, but that technology isn’t cheap. The underlying problem is the use of coal itself. When it comes to addressing greenhouse gas emissions in the US, are coal plants being left out of the conversation?
“Did you know that elephants like to hide in trees? They’re really good at it. Well, have you ever seen one?” That’s how good they are. Those darned sneaky elephants, hiding there all the time. I know it’s a child’s joke, but is addressing climate change really a joke?