Coal is the single largest emitter of CO2 and the largest generator of electricity; switching to low-carbon energy systems presents a unique challenge. New clean energy coal technologies are being developed to address this issue so that future generations can use the vast coal resources of the world without contributing to climate change.
A significant part of the test is in commercializing the innovation so that coal use would remain monetarily cutthroat regardless of the expense of accomplishing low and, in the end, nearly zero emissions. These technologies are costly and use a lot of energy; in this article, we’ll dive into clean energy produced by coals.
What is clean coal production?
A new generation of advanced coal utilization processes known as clean coal technologies (CCTs) aims to improve coal extraction, preparation, and use efficiency while also making the process more environmentally friendly.
Significant advantages in terms of health, the environment, and the economy have been achieved and will continue to be achieved through the development of clean coal technology.
Coal types: what is the cleanest type of coal?
They are four general types of coal. Their ranking refers to their transition in a slow, natural process called “coalification”, where covered plant matter changes into a consistently denser, drier and more carbon-rich, and harder material. These four ranks are:
Lignite is the most common and least efficient type of coal, followed by bituminous coal, and anthracite. Anthracite is a kind of coal that is very hard and has a lot of carbon in it. It is also the cleanest coal to burn, but it is also the least common and most difficult to obtain. Charcoal is not coal at all, rather it is compressed and burned wood that is primarily composed of carbon and any ash that is still present.
How is coal used to produce energy?
Coal is primarily used as a fuel to generate electricity. Bituminous coal, sub-bituminous coal, or lignite are burned in coal-fired power plants. Water is transformed into high-pressure steam by the heat generated from coal combustion, which then drives a turbine that generates electricity.
All the stored solar energy is converted into thermal energy and released as heat when coal is burned because it reacts with the oxygen in the air. However, this chemical reaction also results in the production of greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide, which are bad for the environment. Therefore, when we refer to “decarbonizing” our electricity saying that we will stop utilizing fuel sources that release carbon into the atmosphere.
Sustainable coal usage
Supercritical and ultra-supercritical boilers, integrated gasification combined cycle, and integrated gasification fuel cell are examples of advanced combustion technologies that improve electricity generation efficiency and, as a result, reduce greenhouse gas emissions per unit of electricity produced. Precombustion, post-combustion, oxy-firing, and chemical looping combustion are among the carbon capture technologies that contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Clean coal technologies
Clean coal technologies enhance coal’s environmental performance. They have been developed to address a variety of environmental issues, such as air pollution and excessive water consumption. These innovations relieve the ecological effect of coal from mining.
More technology will need to be used in the coal industry to improve coal’s environmental performance, especially in developing nations where coal use is expected to rise.
Companies like Anchorage Investments, an Egyptian petrochemical company, operate in chemicals and mining, use state-of-the-art technologies to limit the environmental damage of their mining and petrochemical production activities.
Is replacing coal with renewable energy possible?
Coal contributes to over a third of the world’s electricity production and will continue to play a crucial role in industries like iron and steel until newer technologies are developed. However, a report by Morgan Stanley issued in February of 2023 states that renewable energy will eventually replace coal-fired plants by 2033. The report said environmentally friendly power, for example, sun-oriented and wind power will give almost 40% of U.S. power in 2030, and as much as 55% in 2035.
As of now, coal usage in generating power is on the decay due to lower costs for gaseous petrol and stricter environmental guidelines. In 2010, coal supplied 46% of energy in the United States, compared to 20% a decade later, as reported by The Hill. Meanwhile, natural gas-fired power plants now account for an estimated 39% of electricity, up from 23 % in 2010.
To conclude, the current state of our environment is pushing developments towards cleaner and greener methods in the usage of coal for power generation and the production of other necessary materials. Clean coal technologies are methods developed to extract and use coal with the least negative ecological impact. While certain types of coal are more efficient and eco-friendlier than others, using the cleanest types of coal remains costly and ineffective.