Coal Plant

Coal Power

Coal is the most used fuel for electricity generation in the world. It is a leading contributor to global warming and elevated rates of consumption are proving difficult to slow, especially as many developing countries increase their thirst for electricity.

Coal has the advantage that it is very cheaply mined out of the ground and it is relatively abundant. Coal is also one of Australia's main exports and is thus responsible for a proportion of Australia's current economic growth.

Climate Hope: On the Front Lines of the Fight Against Coal

Climate of Hope

Global Warming and Coal

Coal is one of the leading contributors to global warming. With Australia exporting so much dirty coal, many say that we are hypocrites to supply a country with low grade coal then complain about their pollution. The best way to combat global warming is to reduce access to the items which cause it. Just like reducing the severity of war, you stop supplying both sides with weapons. Australia exports a lot of coal and therefore is reluctant to reduce coal mining activities even though it is putting sustainability at risk. You could say that we are missing the 'global' part of 'global warming'.

Bird pollution

Disadvantages of Coal Power

There are many disadvantages with coal power. They emit all sorts of nasty chemicals including a significant amount of radioactive pollutant into the atmosphere. They emit carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, and they must use a quickly depleting non renewable resource.

Advantages of Coal Power

Coal is an excellent producer of strong and steady base load power. Coal fired systems also have far better inertia than other generators, especially renewables. This means that for high impulse load trips and system disturbances, a coal fired plant will have enough momentum to make it through short periods of use where demand outstrips supply without system brownout or load shedding requirements.

Clean Coal

Clean coal has an important role in our push towards sustainability not because it is considered sustainable, but because we have in place thousands of coal fired power stations all over the world which desperately need retro fitted clean coal filters in order to reduce emissions.

In Australia we should really concentrate our efforts on jump starting the sustainable energy industry and improving our transmission networks to accept that energy before we consider clean coal with anywhere near the emphasis that research into geothermal, solar thermal, wind and wave power are getting.

The further danger is that the development of clean coal systems will encourage governments to build coal fired power stations who say "we'll sort out the emissions problem when clean coal comes along". This is unacceptable and an environmentally suicidal approach which we cannot accept from our leaders.

Stone Age

Coal is dead

The best way to move forward is to leave the rest of the coal in the ground. When combusted, it is the leading source of greenhouse gasses and we have seen time and time again that our world is facing serious climate change if we do not react aggressively towards shutting coal fired power stations.

"We did not move out of the stone age because we ran out of stones"

I am not sure who first said this, but it really sums up where we are at the moment. There is something better we can use, yet for some reason, everyone wants to keep using 'stones' because everyone is comfortable with stones, knows how to get stones, and using stones creates jobs in the stone industry.

When coal shuts down, there will be a huge industry with many thousands of jobs created. The threat of losing jobs is simply not a reason not to move on from coal.