Even in the 21st century we are burning coal to charge our cell phones and laptops…isn’t that strange? After a long stretch of decreasing prices and mine shutdowns coal industry is has made a flourishing return.
Coal was country’s vital source in the early 1900 century which fulfilled about 90 percent of all energy requirements as per the Department of Energy data. The demand for coal went down with the discovery of clean and efficient natural gas and petroleum by at present almost 55 percent of the country’s electricity is coal generated and this number is increasing as per the World Coal Institute.
It is true that the perception of coal industry has altered significantly with the passage of time; coal still plays a crucial role in the energy sources in the world for several reasons. Transportation of coal is safe, it is still cheaper as compared to natural gas and is available in large quantity.
Coal industry became very prominent again when the cost of natural gas went up in California and it had to face blackouts. The industry seemed to be dying for decades but with leniency in pollution controls Bush Administration started to make the base for the recovery of coal related power across the country.
As per the Department of Energy natural gas was the costliest expensive fossil fuel, with petroleum being the next and coal was the cheapest way back in 1999. It is true that the cost of producing electricity from coal has gone up with time it continues to be less than what is spent on producing electricity from petroleum or natural gas.
Coal has been very out of favor with environmentalists as they feel that fossil fuel generates largest amount of CO2 and mercury emissions which are linked with global warming and air pollution. Present day energy bills have proposed cleaner coal power schemes which will implement modern ways to decrease pollution in coal generated electricity.
Mines that had been abandoned in the 1990s with the fall of coal prices have been reopened presently in Southeastern US. Quest Minerals and Mining has been reopening these mines after acquiring them and producing coal according to the Clean Air Act specifications. Quest believes in mining coal which emits lower than 1.2 pounds of sulfur dioxide/ million BTU. This is known as ‘low-sulfur coal’ and trades at around $50/ ton