Coal vs. Clean Energy

Coal vs. Clean Energy

Alternative Energy

The topic of the best way to produce energy to power our world has been debated for many decades upon decades. One of the many comparisons up for discussion is coal vs. clean energy. For a long time, we did not know the effects that coal would have on ourselves and, unfortunately, the rest of the environment.

Luckily, with advances in clean energy like solar power, we can work together to help heal our planet and guide future generations in making better choices.

What is Coal-Generated Energy?

Coal energy is made from combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rocks that contain a very high amount of carbon and hydrocarbons. Because of this, coal is classified as a nonrenewable energy source, as it takes millions of years to form. For example, coal contains the energy stored by plants that lived hundreds of millions of years ago.[1]

How Is it Produced?

It all starts with old plants, millions of years old plants. Once the sedimentary rock or coal is mined, it is sent off to a coal plant to be turned into usable energy. At the plant, the coal is placed into a boiler to produce steam. The steam that is produced flows into a turbine that spins a generator to create electricity. The steam is then cooled and condensed into water, then returned to the boiler to start the process all over again.[2]

What Does it Do?

Although energy is produced to help power our homes, there can be harmful side effects of mining and producing coal. For example, miners exposed directly to toxic fumes, coal dust and toxic metals while mining, increased their risk of fatal lung diseases. In fact, the mining process of coal alone “has been responsible for over 100,000 deaths.”[3] So not only does coal energy cause harm to the human race, it is equally, if not worse, for our environment.

Coal can contain toxic elements and metals such as sulfur, mercury, lead and arsenic. When coal is burned to produce energy, all of these toxins are released into the air we breathe. These particles can increase pollution and are an danger to our health. Another environmental impact of coal is the large amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from its burning. These emissions are linked to an increase in greenhouse gasses that can contribute to global warming.[4]

Solar vs. Coal: Carbon Footprint

If all of the harmful effects of coal mining on humans and the environment weren’t scary enough, things really come into focus when you look at the carbon footprint it leaves behind.

Here’s what we mean, “coal with a carbon content of 78 percent and a heating value of 14,000 Btu per pound emits about 204.3 pounds of carbon dioxide per million Btu when completely burned. Complete combustion of 1 short ton (2,000 pounds) of this coal will generate about 2.86 short tons of carbon dioxide.”[5]

Now, to the average person who does not know much about carbon footprints, this may not seem like an alarming number. But, compared to the carbon footprint of solar panels, it is alarming. The carbon dioxide (CO2) produced during solar panel manufacturing is about 50g of CO2 per kilowatt hour during the first few years of operation. This is about 20 times LESS than the carbon footprint of coal. A bonus to solar panels is that after about three years of operation, they become carbon neutral.[6]

Why Go Solar?

While it may seem like a no-brainer to switch to clean energy, you may still have some questions about its benefits. Fortunately, we have the answers. Having a solar panel system helps reduce your carbon footprint and helps save money in the long run. With solar, you can drastically reduce your utility bills, avoid rising energy costs, receive tax benefits, and increase your property value.

Going Solar with Momentum

Transitioning to cleaner, price-protected energy with Momentum is easy. From drafting your design blueprint to filing government paperwork and securing permits, to flipping the final switch to power up your panels – our team of experts is with you every step of the way.

We are ready to take on your project, no matter the budget, size or aesthetic preference. Call us at 1-888-MOMENTUM to learn more about making the switch today!

 

 

[1]https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/coal/#:~:text=Coal%20is%20a%20combustible%20black,years%20ago%20in%20swampy%20forests.

[2] https://www.tva.com/energy/our-power-system/coal/how-a-coal-plant-works#:~:text=Coal%2Dfired%20plants%20produce%20electricity,to%20start%20the%20process%20over.

[3] https://arlweb.msha.gov/stats/centurystats/coalstats.asp

[4] https://www.dummies.com/education/science/environmental-science/what-is-the-environmental-impact-of-mining-and-burning-coal/#:~:text=Coal%20contains%20sulfur%20and%20other,carbon%20dioxide%20into%20the%20atmosphere.

[5]https://www.eia.gov/coal/production/quarterly/co2_article/co2.html#:~:text=For%20example%2C%20coal%20with%20a,million%20Btu%20when%20completely%20burned.&text=Complete%20combustion%20of%201%20short,short%20tons)%20of%20carbon%20dioxide.

[6] https://gvecsolarservice.com/how-clean-is-the-solar-panel-manufacturing-process-how-much-carbon-dioxide-is-produced/#:~:text=Accounting%20for%20the%20amount%20of,of%20coal%2Dpowered%20electricity%20sources.

 

 

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