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Clean Coal Technology for Clean Energy

Is clean coal even real? A look into the debate over how much clean coal really helps the environment.

Clean Coal Technology is the term used to describe energy processes that sharply reduce air emissions and other pollutants from coal-burning power plants.  Clean coal projects often get a bad rap in the press because they tend to be surrounded by debate over the pros and cons of the technology. 

Dependence on Coal
Coals abundance and affordability compared to other fossil fuels makes it one of the most widely used.  In addition, it is readily found in the nations that use it; the top four coal-reserve countries being the United States, Russia, China, and India.

On the down side, when burned, coal is the least clean form of all fossil fuels. It is a malodorous process that releases mercury, sulfur dioxide, particulates and tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. Increasing awareness of rising health and environmental costs, as well as climate change concerns has caused utility companies to look for cleaner ways to process coal in order to fulfill energy needs.

Clean Coal Technology
Hence, we are introduced to Clean Coal Technology. The clean coal theory revolves around the concept that all the carbon dioxide normally emitted from burning coal will remain underground indefinitely. Rather than burning the coal and generating emissions, utility companies are looking at cleaner ways of capturing those emissions and storing them underground.  This allows coal to be burned with a minimum of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Controversy
Utility companies and environmental activists have debated the term “clean coal” in recent years.

Activists claim that the term is “a way of appearing to help the environment while not being fully environmentally friendly”.  They believe it cannot be labeled clean based on its connection with augmenting climate change (siting mountaintop removal, health problems, and the high carbon emissions).  On the other hand, advocates point to technological advances that are working toward zero emission coal technology as well as the number of jobs created by building clean coal power plants.

Making Progress in Clean Energy
Whether the source is wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, bio, nuclear or coal, the end goal is to provide clean energy.  Work continues in the effort to prevent carbon dioxide levels from rising to more dangerous levels and currently depends heavily on developing and building clean coal power plants.

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