How To Save Rainforests (& Reverse Deforestation & Declining Canopy Cover)

How To Save Rainforests (& Reverse Deforestation & Declining Canopy Cover)

Rainforests and tropical rainforests in particular contain the highest concentrations of biodiversity on Earth (far more than man made forests and tree plantations).

Rainforests also contain many benefits for humans, the economy, and the environment & wildlife.

It is therefore in our extreme interest to save them.

This guide outlines how to save rainforests, and reverse deforestation and declining canopy cover, on both the society wide level, and on the individual level.

 

Summary – Saving Rainforests 

  • There’s two approaches that can be taken – an individual approach, and a society wide approach
  • Individual approaches can entail supporting products and companies that don’t use resources that have an origin from rainforests or rainforest land that was cleared 
  • A society wide approach that can be effective is either giving legal and land rights to local communities to manage rainforest lands themselves (as they will naturally care for resources they depend on for their living), or have programs that give economic incentive to countries and local populations to preserve rainforests
  • As long as rainforests are economically worth more to cut down than to leave standing or conserve, deforestation will be a big threat

 

The Problem With Rainforest (& Tropical Rainforest) Destruction & Deforestation

  • Rainforests contain heavy concentrations of biodiversity
  • Rainforests can provide many benefits to society and the environment when they are left standing
  • But, they tend to be worth more to cut down, and tend to be located in poorer regions of the world where local populations need the money to survive, and local corruption and foreign corporate advancement are also common (care2.com)
  • Globally, tropical tree canopy loss has almost doubled over the past decade (weforum.org)
  • Rainforests can take far longer to be restored than man made forests and tree plantations, and sometimes never return to their original condition

 

How To Save Rainforests, & Reverse Deforestation, & Declining Canopy Cover

These are some of the main steps we have synthesised and paraphrased from a Weforum.org article, that outlines steps that Costa Rica took to bring deforestation to zero, and increase canopy cover:

  • Restrict the number of logging permits
  • Create a national forestry commission to police forest activity
  • Introduce a system of payments for environmental services … to help reduce poverty, especially in poor rural areas
  • Introduce a National Forestry Fund to provide landowners per-acre financial incentives to conserve their land and prevent it degrading, which can lead to improved land management and reforestation. Individuals and entire communities benefit from the fund via jobs and income. A fund can be financed by foreign investment and loans, as well as internal revenues from fossil fuel taxation.
  • General safeguarding of rainforests by policy makers – especially to secondary rainforests
  • Focus on both natural forests and man made forests
  • Understand that human land clearance for agriculture is the key driver of large-scale deforestation
  • Understand that climate change might cause accelerated deforestation

– Weforum.org

 

  • Communities with rights to resources conserve those resources; communities without rights have no reason to conserve… and deforestation will ensue
  • If you want to stop deforestation, give legal rights to [local] communities for these forests [as history has shown they manage them sustainably]
  • Indigenous communities such as Brazil’s Kayapo have kept deforestation rates “close to zero” in some instances
  • One problem being faced is that under the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) mechanism, carbon sinks and carbon credits are being sold off to companies in the name of conservation – but this money isn’t going to locals as the legal, logistical and scientific barriers are too high. Governments don’t help out local populations either. Governments with international environment groups and corporations are the ones usually profiting from it
  • A sizable example of this happens in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but also in other areas in the world
  • The above approach is a double win, as locals can still make an income, and forests can better be managed and sustainably preserved

– newscientist.com

 

  • [Poor and local populations often depend on rainforests to make a living]
  • [Subsistence farming, logging and clearing for agriculture are the main reasons for deforestation]
  • [Commercial and industrial agriculture and logging can be hard to turn down for poor countries]
  • Closing or or fencing off rainforests doesn’t work
  • What can work to reduce deforestation is …
  • Sufficient economic incentives for respecting and maintaining the forest. Rainforests will only continue to survive as functional ecosystems if they can be shown to provide tangible economic benefits
  • [Give poor farmers a sustainable way to make a living that doesn’t involve destruction of rainforests]
  • [Make more productive and sustainable use of the land already cleared and being farmed … instead of clearing new forest land]
  • Funding rainforest conservation efforts via payments for ecosystem services, commodity roundtables, eco tourism, bio-prospecting fees, corporate sponsorship
  • Once funding is in place, these steps can be taken – expand protected areas, increase surveillance of and patrols of protected areas, build research facilities for training local scientists and guides, establish programs that promote sustainable use, compensate displaced people, ensure economic success is decoupled from deforestation, encourage other forms of employment and entrepreneurship
  • In order for the forest to be preserved, the underlying social, economic, and political reasons for deforestation must be recognized and addressed. 

– rainforests.mongabay.com

 

Individuals can take the following steps to help save rainforests:

  • Reduce paper and wood consumption … and try to buy recycled or alternative plant fibre products instead (like bamboo)
  • Reduce oil consumption (helps address deforestation)
  • Reduce beef consumption (helps address land clearing for agriculture)
  • Hold businesses accountable – support companies that support rainforests, and stop buying from those who don’t
  • Invest in rainforest communities such as RAN’s Protect-an-Acre Program
  • Join a local forest preservation group
  • Support Rainforest Action Network

– adventure-life.com

 

Individuals can take the following steps to help save rainforests:

  • Support organisations that work to save global rainforests through incentive-based initiatives, education and conservation programs
  • Try to stay away from palm oil products

– care2.com

 

Sources

1. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/06/costa-rica-has-doubled-its-tropical-rainforests-in-just-a-few-decades-here-s-how?fbclid=IwAR07Pyh5Ir1VjRGQGMloGKiVKW9CzUwJwl6NGYf1-aNoeGEm65bNbCJato4

2. https://rainforests.mongabay.com/1001.htm

3. https://www.adventure-life.com/amazon/articles/what-can-i-do

4. https://www.care2.com/causes/5-ways-you-can-save-tropical-rainforests.html

5. https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22530100-200-to-save-the-rainforest-let-the-locals-take-control/

Does Clean Coal Have A Future? (Is It Feasible & Practical?)

Does Clean Coal Have A Future? (Is It Feasible & Practical?)

This guide summarises whether clean coal might have a future as an energy source.

We look at various feasibility, practicality and other factors involved in it’s use.

 

Summary – Does Clean Coal Have A Future?

  • It depends on the clean coal technology or clean coal methods that we are talking about (read more in this guide about a list of all the different clean coal technologies and methods, and what they each do)
  • Each type of clean coal technology might do something different, and has different pros and cons across all aspects of it’s potential use. 
  • As an example, a bag filter used to catch particulate matter might be far more cost efficient, effective and reliable, compared to a big expensive and unreliable new form of carbon capture and storage technology designed to deal with CO2. Each piece of technology is designed to achieve something different too 
  • We’ve already established that clean coal technology can be more clean than regular coal technology (although it isn’t always), and it’s probably not as clean/eco friendly as natural gas, nuclear and renewables
  • In terms of cost, reliability and efficiency – clean coal technology such as large scale CSS doesn’t rate particularly well, at least not at this point in time with many of the projects already built
  • Clean coal can add 20-30% to the price of coal energy in some cases, and can be more energy intensive as well. Some of this increased cost might be re-gathered via commercialisation of coal plant waste or captured carbon, but then might be added back again via carbon taxes
  • There has been a high fail rate of retro fitting and building new coal plants with clean coal technology – and clean coal technology research, development, design, construction and operation has cost in the billions so far
  • Overall, clean coal probably can’t be considered a long term, or even short to medium term option for energy generation – based purely on the projects and data so far. The exception to this are the cheaper and highly effective forms of clean clean coal technology that capture, reduce or re-use undesirable waste and pollutants from the coal-for-energy process.
  • Gasification of coal (as opposed to using pulverised coal) is seen by some as one of the promising technologies as it can create electricity more efficiently (so less coal in total might be used). But, it is still in some ways in development to be used at scale, and provide effective and reliable results over the long term. Additionally, it’s yet to be seen whether gasification of coal can produce similar or better results that other forms of energy like natural gas, nuclear and renewables.
  • Two sources that suggest clean coal energy, specifically gasification, and CSS, have a role to play in the future are world-nuclear.org and ourworldindata.org. 
  • Each type of technology needs a cost benefit analysis of the eco, social and economic (for consumers, investors and suppliers) impact they have from coal mining all the way through to the coal waste management stage
  • One asterisk on the use of coal is that coal has to be mined – no amount of clean coal technology can reduce the potential negative impacts of mining. Other sources of energy like wind and solar only need mining for things like solar panels, wind towers, and solar batteries (or whatever equipment is required). The sun and the wind don’t require mining
  • Regular coal energy probably does still have a future as a cheap, accessible, well developed and reliable source of energy (even if it is highly polluting). It provides a backup and supplemental source of energy to variable renewable energy where nuclear and natural gas aren’t feasible for whatever reason

*Note – that the above are general points related to clean coal technology. In reality, individual clean coal technology has different sets of variables that impact how eco friendly, and also how effective, costly, efficient, and reliable they are. Different countries, cities and towns may also have different variables at play for their energy supply. An individual assessment of each situation is required for an accurate answer as to what energy mix and energy technologies are suitable long term.

 

Pros & Cons Of Clean Coal Technology

You can read a guide on the pros and cons of clean coal technology in this guide.

 

The Success & Failure Of Clean Coal Technology & Clean Coal Projects Up To Now

Some clean coal devices and technology are effective at what they are designed to do.

Examples are bag filters to catch particulate matter, and mercury absorbers – which both show noticeable positive results in reducing fine particle and mercury pollution (bettermeetsreality.com)

But, it would be fair to say that large scale and advanced clean coal technology like CSS (carbon capture storage) has been a failure to date because of factors like cost, unreliability and other problems.

Some notes on clean coal technologies and clean coal projects, and their relative success or failure up until now are:

 

  • [The Kemper project in the United States had structural problems, could only be run a certain amount of time in the first 3 to 5 years, and had to be abandoned due to numerous issues. It went 4 billion dollars over budget]
  • [The only CCS coal plant that is currently in operation in the United States right is the Petra Nova plant in Houston, Texas. … It is one of only two existing CSS plants in the world. The other one is the Boundary Dam plant in Saskatchewan, Canada]
  • [These plants appear to be uninvestable in general]
  • [CCS technology is very expensive]
  • [It doesn’t seem like feasible technology in the long term]
  • [… while CCS may have an overall positive effect on air pollution, emissions of some pollutants may increase]
  • [Clean coal also can’t do anything about the impact of mining on the environment]
  • [A conflict of interest with clean coal is that coal and carbon industries represent themselves, not the people]
  • [It might be smarter long term to move to renewables and natural gas over clean coal]

– ecowarriorprincess.net

 

  • [Many new coal power plants get to pre construction, and are halted, cancelled or shelved]
  • [There’s a difference between new projects, and expansions of existing stations in the form of new generation units and do not result in new power stations]
  • [only 35 countries have coal-fired capacity under construction]
  • [25 countries have coal-fired capacity at the “pre-construction” phase]
  • [In 2017 only 12 countries started constructing coal units — and only seven started construction at more than one location]
  • [The total number of new stations under construction as of July 2017 was 154]
  • [Many new coal projects are adding or replacing units in existing stations rather than building new power stations]
  • [There is 210,000 MW of coal-fired power under construction]
  • [There is in fact one dedicated, “high efficiency, low emissions” coal power station under construction in Japan, not 40. There is only one dedicated HELE coal-fired power station on the record as being under construction in Japan, the Hitachinaka Kyodo power station]
  • [The term “HELE” is misleading because supercritical coal is only higher-efficiency and lower-emissions relative to other coal generation, and even then the difference is sometimes only marginal. They have much higher emissions than gas generation, let alone renewable energy generation.]
  • [there has to be a distinction between additional units being added to existing power stations, compared to new coal power stations being built altogether]
  • [HELE doesn’t include sub critical plants]
  • China has hundreds of coal projects under “active development”, but most are not currently being built — and may never be built … Only some of these projects represent new power stations — others will be expansions of existing power stations or separate units of a single new station … Of the new power stations, not all will necessarily qualify as high efficiency, low emissions (supercritical) generation
  • Advocates for coal development in Australia have been selective in the information that they report about the prospects for coal in the rest of the world … Even more concerning is that they have misunderstood key distinctions in coal projects, such as “pre-construction” vs. “under construction” projects and power station expansions vs. new power stations. It is also not accurate to suggest that all new generation is “high efficiency, low emissions”, a term that is itself very misleading
  • [So overall, we need to be careful about what is reported about HELE plants and clean coal technology]

– tai.org.au

 

You can read further about how different clean coal technology projects around the world have fared at https://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/energy-and-the-environment/clean-coal-technologies.aspx

 

Always Understand What Type Of Coal Technology We Are Talking About When Discussing Feasibility

It’s important to outline the difference in different types of coal power plants, retrofits and new projects – each of which may or may not include clean coal technology, and may or may not actually be built. This helps us confirm that results and feasibility assessments from coal energy isn’t confused.

Know if coal energy results and stats are coming from:

  • existing old style coal plants
  • retrofits of clean coal technology on existing plants
  • new plant projects without CSS – subcritical, super critical, and ultra supercritical plants (HELE plants)
  • new plants with CSS – subcritical, super critical, and ultra supercritical plants (HELE plants)
  • plants in design, pre construction, construction, and operation stages 

It should also be specified what type of coal technology is being talked when presenting results, costs and feasibility assessments.

Some sources might say there are X amount of clean coal plants globally, when in reality these plants may not have CSS and may still be in pre construction stage and not actually providing electricity consistently yet.

This is explained well by http://www.tai.org.au/content/deconstructing-case-coal

 

The Use Of Clean Coal Or Efficient Coal Technology In The Future

Despite the current data and past projects showing that especially carbon capture technology has been costly and unreliable up to date, here’s what other sources say about some types of clean coal:

 

  • it’s important to note that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and International Energy Agency (IEA) still regard CCS to be a crucial element in meeting our global carbon targets.

– ourworldindata.org

 

  • The clean coal technology field is moving in the direction of coal gasification with a second stage so as to produce a concentrated and pressurised carbon dioxide stream followed by its separation and geological storage. This technology has the potential to provide what may be called “zero emissions” – in reality, extremely low emissions of the conventional coal pollutants, and as low-as-engineered carbon dioxide emissions.
  • This has come about as a result of the realisation that efficiency improvements, together with the use of natural gas and renewables such as wind will not provide the deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions necessary to meet future national targets.
  • There are many advocates for the use of natural gas as an alternative to coal for electricity generation, on the grounds that it emits much less CO2 per kWh generated. This is true on almost any basis of comparison, but it ignores the global warming potential of leaked natural gas, and the CO2 emissions in transporting it as LNG (up to one third of the energy is consumed in transport). Leakage of 3% of the natural gas will bring it into approximate parity with coal-fired electricity in terms of global warming effect.

– world-nuclear.org

 

Sources

1. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/is-clean-coal-really-clean-eco-friendly-or-is-it-a-greenwashing-lie/

2. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/a-list-of-clean-coal-technologies-techniques-ways-to-make-coal-cleaner-more-eco-friendly/

3. https://ecowarriorprincess.net/2018/04/clean-coal-explained-what-it-is-and-is-it-really-sustainable/

4. http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/energy-and-the-environment/clean-coal-technologies.aspx

5. http://www.tai.org.au/content/deconstructing-case-coal

6. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/pros-cons-of-clean-coal-technology/

7. https://ourworldindata.org/energy-production-and-changing-energy-sources#carbon-capture-and-storage-ccs

Pros & Cons Of Clean Coal Technology

Pros & Cons Of Clean Coal Technology

This is a short guide outlining the pros and cons of clean coal technology.

*Note – this guide is a generalisation of the pros and cons of clean coal. In reality, each type of clean coal technology has to be assessed for it’s own social, economic and environmental pros and cons that it offers in each country or area. Read more about the different types of clean coal technology in this guide.

 

Summary – Pros & Cons Of Clean Coal Technology

  • Overall, there are different types of clean coal technology, each with their own list of pros and cons
  • Some of the simpler technology can be more effective and feasible
  • But, other more advanced clean coal technology can be very costly and face a host of other problems that limit it’s advancement and wider use
  • Some clean coal technology, especially the more expensive and energy intensive technology (like some CSS technology), can have a large list of cons (and can make clean coal more expensive and unable to compete with nuclear energy in some instances). 
  • But, all forms of emission and pollution regulation tend to increase prices for investors and consumers at least somewhat
  • Some sources say that the future of clean coal might include gasification at one stage of the coal-for-energy process, which can help make electricity from coal more efficiently compared to pulverised coal (so, emissions aren’t reduced per tonne of coal, but less coal might be used in total and there might be less emissions in total). But, even gasification is not yet a proven technology from a clean coal perspective, and it’s uncertain to an extent how eco friendly it can help make coal energy in the long term
  • Some sources say that a better long term plan might be to pursue and invest in natural gas, nuclear and renewable energy as a priority over clean coal (which are usually cleaner forms of energy in a number of ways)

 

Pros Of Clean Coal

  • Some Technologies Do Markedly Decrease Pollution & Emissionsread more in this guide about how eco friendly the different types of clean coal technology might be.
  • Some Technologies Are More Cost Effective Than Others – such as some more simple filters and absorbers that catch or filter air contaminants, compared to say a high tech extensive and expensive CSS system.
  • Some Technologies Increase Efficiency Of Coal Energy – the higher efficiency [of ultra-supercritical (USC) HELE technology] reduces emissions and fuel costs to about 75% of subcritical plants. In Japan and South Korea about 70% of coal-fired power comes from supercritical and ultra-supercritical plants (world-nuclear.org)

 

Cons Of Clean Coal

  • Research & Development, & Funding/Investment For Building & Operating New Projects & Retro Fits Can Be Costly – About $50 billion has been put towards the development and deployment of “traditional” clean coal technologies over the past 30 years (wikipedia.org). Concerns exist regarding the economic viability of these technologies … and potentially high hidden economic costs in terms of social and environmental damage, and the costs and viability of disposing of removed carbon and other toxic matter. (wikipedia.org). The capital cost of ultra-supercritical (USC) HELE technology is 20-30% greater than a subcritical unit (world-nuclear.org). The Carbonate Looping Process [when used] … costs amount to around 20 to 27 euro per tonne of CO2. [although, other processes are more expensive and less efficient] (phys.org). The cost of CSS as of 2017 still looks to be around two thirds more than plants without this technology. This was attributed largely to the extra energy required to extract, pump, and compress the CO2, and hence not amenable to great improvement (world-nuclear.org)
  • Can Increase The Price of Clean Coal Electricity – increased capital and running costs for some clean coal technology means those costs are passed on in the electricity price to consumers. This makes clean coal usually not as competitive with nuclear. Whether coal by products are commercialised, and whether there are carbon taxes can also impact price. It’s costly to bring the eco friendliness of coal emissions down to match nuclear  – this ‘clean’ penalty is usually around 20% (world-nuclear.org). There are a number of economic barriers to CCS development. Installation of CCS technology incurs an energy penalty of 10-40 percent. This means an electricity producer would have to increase inputs by 10-40 percent just to achieve the same energy output as a conventional power plant. In addition, CCS technology can be capital-intensive- it is typically one of the most expensive carbon mitigation options (ourworldindata.org)
  • Various Clean Coal Projects Have Failed At Different Stages – at the design, pre construction, construction, and operation stages. Many projects have been shut down or discontinued at a significant time, and financial loss, due to various complications and feasibility issues. One example is the Kemper Project in the US that had to be abandoned due to numerous issues … and went 4 billion dollars over budget (ecowarriorprincess.net)
  • Timeframe Of Deliverability For New Projects Can Be Unpredictable – Concerns exist regarding the the timeframe of delivery of some clean coal technology projects (wikipedia.org) 
  • New Projects Can Have Structural Problems – the Kemper Project in the US had structural problems (ecowarriorprincess.net)
  • CCS Seems To Be Advancing Slowly – CCS is advancing slowly, due to cost and lack of support by politicians and investors (world-nuclear.org)
  • There Are Few CSS (Carbon Capture Storage) Coal Plants In The World – [The only CCS coal plant that is currently in operation in the United States right is the Petra Nova plant in Houston, Texas. … It is one of only two existing CSS plants in the world. The other one is the Boundary Dam plant in Saskatchewan, Canada] (ecowarriorprincess.net)
  • Some Clean Coal Technology Lacks Reliability – In Australia, on a per gigawatt basis, high efficiency low emission plants break down more often than older coal plants (tai.org.au). The Kemper Project in the US could only be run a certain amount of time in the first 3 to 5 years (ecowarriorprincess.net). Australia’s newest supercritical coal plant, shows that its breakdowns … occur often … are the biggest in the NEM … have contributed to price spikes … and, have caused frequency losses outside of the safe operating band (apo.org.au)
  • Can Be Eco Friendly In Some Regards, But Not In Others – while CCS may have an overall positive effect on air pollution, emissions of some pollutants may increase (ecowarriorprincess.net). A number of CCS projects have been constructed, although collectively their impact on CO2 emissions has been small (ourworldindata.org)
  • Can Be Energy Intensive – ‘Clean coal’ technologies are both costly and energy-intensive (world-nuclear.org)
  • Potential Safety ProblemsLarge-scale storage of CO2 from power generation will require an extensive pipeline network in densely populated areas. This has safety implications (world-nuclear.org)
  • Can’t Reduce The Potential Negative Impact Of Mining On The Environment – coal washing, CCS, filters and absorbers to catch air pollutants … all of these technologies work AFTER the coal mining stage. The use of coal, regardless of what coal plant technology is used, involves mining. Compare that to solar or wind for example which only require mining for the equipment such as solar panels and wind towers.
  • Coal & Carbon Industries Represent Themselves (Not Necessarily The Public) – and this may be a conflict of interest to introduce new profitable clean coal technology, which may not be in the best interest of the public. Ultra-supercritical plants are usually more profitable than subcritical plants, since they have lower fuel and other operating costs (reneweconomy.com.au)
  • Coal Waste Products Can’t Be, Or Aren’t Being Commercialized Everywhere – in which case, they become an environmental hazard (because of heavy metals they may contain), or make up a large % of a country or state’s waste stream – like coal ash does in Australia.
  • Still More Emissions Intensive Than Some Other Energy Sources – [some HELE coal plants] are more emissions-intensive than renewable energy and even gas (tai.org.au). SO2 and particle emissions from gas are a tiny fraction of those from coal, while NOx emissions are similar. It would be technically easy for the gas plant to go a lot lower but this is what current standards require. [So, gas plants are more eco friendly than coal plants – but, we don’t know if these estimates include methane gas leaked at the natural gas mining/extraction stage] (reneweconomy.com.au)
  • Some Types Of Expensive Clean Coal Technology Are Pursued Before Installing More Affordable Technology First – Some countries push for new more expensive HELE plants without yet having more basic clean coal technology like flue gas desulphurisation. It is worth noting that Australia, the main peddler of “High Efficiency Low Emissions” (HELE) coal plants along with Japan, hasn’t even required flue gas desulphurisation equipment on its own coal plants, making them some of the dirtiest in the world (reneweconomy.com.au)
  • Not All New HELE Coal Plants Increase Efficiency Or Capacity – Australia’s black coal plants, the supercritical plants, have performed just as badly as subcritical plants relative to generating capacity, despite being newer (apo.org.au)
  • HELE Brown Coal Plants Could Be An Issue In Some Countries – Super critical brown coal plants would be problematic for two reasons – Australia’s brown coal plants are more unreliable than its black coal plants and, secondly, supercritical brown plants would still be more emissions intensive than the majority of Australia’s existing coal plants (apo.org.au)

 

Sources

1. https://reneweconomy.com.au/how-much-do-ultra-supercritical-coal-plants-really-reduce-air-pollution-70678/

2. http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/energy-and-the-environment/clean-coal-technologies.aspx

3. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/is-clean-coal-really-clean-eco-friendly-or-is-it-a-greenwashing-lie/

4. http://www.tai.org.au/content/new-coal-plants-even-more-unreliable

5. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/coal-energy-pros-cons-now-future/

6. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/a-list-of-clean-coal-technologies-techniques-ways-to-make-coal-cleaner-more-eco-friendly/

7. https://phys.org/news/2017-03-coal-burning-power-stations-environmentally-friendly.html

8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_coal_technology#Clean_coal_and_the_environment

9. https://ecowarriorprincess.net/2018/04/clean-coal-explained-what-it-is-and-is-it-really-sustainable/

10. https://apo.org.au/node/216891

11. https://ourworldindata.org/energy-production-and-changing-energy-sources#carbon-capture-and-storage-ccs

Is Clean Coal Really ‘Clean’ & Eco Friendly? Or, Is It A Greenwashing Lie?

Is Clean Coal Really 'Clean' & Eco Friendly? Or, Is It A Greenwashing Lie?

The aim of this guide is to explore whether clean coal is really clean (i.e. whether it’s better for the environment, or whether it still has as much of a negative impact as regular coal)

To do this, we look at the impact of clean coal technology on emissions and pollutants, as well as a range other eco friendly benchmarks and indicators.

(Note – whether clean coal is actually ‘clean’, is a separate question to whether clean coal is feasible, or whether it has a practical long term future)

 

Summary – Is Clean Coal Really Clean?

  • In general, clean coal is cleaner than a coal plant that doesn’t use clean coal technology, but most likely not as clean as natural gas (depending on whether you count leaked natural gas in the mining stage), nuclear or renewable energy
  • There are many variables to clean coal such as what measure of ‘clean’ you are measuring, as well the clean coal technology being used (e.g. a bag filter has a completely different impact and level of effectiveness than the newest form of CSS or gasification that is still in the developmental stage)
  • Each coal plant is going to be different with how clean and eco friendly it’s energy production process is because of different variables involved in that process at each location
  • The type of coal used, the way coal is handled between the coal mine and the coal plant, the type of coal plant used, whether coal is pulverised or gasified, whether there are emission or pollutant devices installed at the plant, and how by-products and waste are treated or used – can all impact how clean the coal-to-energy process is. There are also other factors that can have an impact too. A factor like increasing plant efficiency won’t decrease the rate of pollution or emissions per unit of coal burned, but can decrease overall coal used to generate the same amount of electricity and can contribute to lower total pollution or emission amounts for that same amount of electricity. Other factors like imposing new coal plant license conditions or putting in place carbon taxes don’t directly reduce emissions and pollution, but can do so indirectly 
  • Clean coal also has it’s own drawbacks, such as being costly (therefore raising the end price of clean coal electricity), and in some cases, energy intensive and unreliable
  • Several clean coal plants and clean coal technology projects have had to be discontinued or shut down at the pre construction, construction and operation stages, because of cost, complication and unreliability factors (amongst other factors such as applying technology at scale, just as one example)
  • So, we can’t look at how effective clean coal technology is without looking at the feasibility and practical side of actually using it to deliver energy and electricity (there’s no use electricity that is overpriced and unreliable to both investors and consumers)
  • Often, only the areas of carbon emissions and air pollutants from the burning of coal are looked at in terms of impact on the environment, but a more complete picture may also look at type and extent of mining required, the coal plant process, what is done with flue gas, and what is done with coal plant waste and by-products. This provides a more complete picture than just the ‘at plant’ eco footprint

 

How Can Coal Be Made Cleaner?

The two main ways are:

  • By reducing greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide
  • By reducing air contaminants like nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter

Other ways might include reducing the negative impacts of the coal mining process, and treating, disposing of or re-using coal plant waste or by products (such as coal ash) in a sustainable way.

 

There’s various clean coal methods and technologies used to achieve the above, and you can read a full list in this guide.

Below, we have summarised how effective some of these technologies and methods might be, or what impact they might have on the coal energy production process.

(Note – these eco savings and reduction estimates below are guides only – actually savings and reductions depends on individual coal plants and technology. There should be testing and auditing bodies that provide accurate assessments in each area so that coal energy in general can be tracked for it’s eco suitability)

 

Coal Washing 

  • [Some Chinese estimates indicate] Coal washing can remove 50%-80% of ash and 30%-40% of total sulfur (or 60%~80% of inorganic sulfur) in coal

– lzzgchina.com

 

Carbon Capture Storage (CCS), Carbon Capture & Use (CCU), & Other Carbon Capture Technology

  • The IEA says … as much as a 12 percent reduction in carbon emissions can be achieved by 2050 through CCS.
  • … while CCS may have an overall positive effect on air pollution, emissions of some pollutants may increase

– ecowarriorprincess.net

 

  • The Carbonate Looping Process can be used to separate more than 90 per cent of the CO2 released during the combustion of fossil fuels. Retrofitting existing power generation facilities and industrial plants with this technology would allow them to be operated in a much more environmentally-friendly manner

– phys.org

 

Bag & Fabric Filters

  • power stations … that haven’t fitted fine-particle bag filters … jump off the charts in terms of fine particle pollution
  • Bag filters can help reduce the amount of PM 10, or particulate matter smaller than 10 microns that power stations release.
  • At this size, particles can enter the lungs and bloodstream. But bag filters are less effective for particles referred to as PM 2.5, or particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns

– abc.net.au

 

  • … fabric filters [together with electrostatic precipitators] can remove 99% of the fly ash from the flue gases

– world-nuclear.org

 

Mercury Absorbers

  • [mercury emitted by coal-fired power plants] can be solved with mercury absorbers

– abc.net.au

 

Electrostatic Precipitators

  • Electrostatic precipitators [together with fabric filters] … can remove 99% of the fly ash from the flue gases

– world-nuclear.org

 

  • Electrostatic precipitators … [are] considered best practice for capturing emissions from brown coal

– abc.net.au

 

Flue Gas Desulfurization

  • Flue gas desulfurisation reduces the output of sulfur dioxide to the atmosphere by up to 97%, the task depending on the level of sulfur in the coal and the extent of the reduction.

– world-nuclear.org

 

Low NOx Burners

  • Low-NOx burners allow coal-fired plants to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 40%. Coupled with re-burning techniques NOx can be reduced 70% and selective catalytic reduction can clean up 90% of NOx emissions.

– world-nuclear.org

 

New High Efficiency, Low Emission Coal Plants, Or Upgrade Of Existing Plants

  • … if existing coal plants were upgraded to high-efficiency, at least 19 percent of total emissions can be reduced on an annual basis. 

– ecowarriorprincess.net

 

  • ultra-supercritical (USC) HELE technology … reduces emissions and fuel costs to about 75% of subcritical plants
  • Increased efficiency of plant [in general] – up to 46% thermal efficiency now (and 50% expected in future) means that newer plants create less emissions per kWh than older ones

– world-nuclear.org

 

  • [Super critical brown coal plants in Australia … would still be more emissions intensive than the majority of Australia’s existing coal plants]

– apo.org.au

 

  • which type of steam cycle is used [in a new power plant] has no impact on the emissions per tonne of coal burned
  • … The only difference between different steam cycles in terms of emissions is how much power they can generate from one tonne of coal
  •  emissions per tonne of coal depend solely on the amount of sulphur contained in the coal

– reneweconomy.com.au

 

You can find out more information on the different types of new coal plants and their efficiency rates at:

  • https://reneweconomy.com.au/how-much-do-ultra-supercritical-coal-plants-really-reduce-air-pollution-70678/
  • https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Coal_power_technologies

 

Gasification & Combustion Techniques

  • Advanced technologies such as Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) and Pressurised Fluidised Bed Combustion (PFBC) enable higher thermal efficiencies still – up to 50% in the future

– world-nuclear.org

 

Coal Stations Licenses & Permits

  • [Coal station licenses and permits with conditions of] greater emissions controls and more accurate reporting measures [can help reduce emissions and air contaminants]. [But, this can make coal electricity prices more expensive too].

– abc.net.au

 

National Air Pollutant Monitoring Bodies

  • [the intention of these bodies is to control air pollution … but the NPI in Australia isn’t working as intended]
  • … a national air pollution monitoring body, similar to the United States Environmental Protection Agency [is needed to help control air pollution].

– theguardian.com

 

General Notes On The Impact Of Clean Coal Technology 

  • … there is the claim that other clean coal technologies can be applied to reduce the emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulphur oxide; increase coal combustion efficiency; and remove coal impurities to reduce emissions.
  • [It’s important to note that clean coal probably has little impact of mining on the environment – which can be fairly damaging. It’s more so focussed on the coal itself and the coal burning process only the burning of coal]

– ecowarriorprincess.net

 

  • … power stations in Australia should be updated with emission control technology, which could reduce the release of toxins by up to 90%
  • … when old high emitting plants shut down … the data should show a really significant reduction in the toxic pollutant levels. [So, reducing both the number of coal plants overall, and the number of old coal plants can reduce toxic pollution from coal plants separately from installing or using any clean coal technology]

– theguardian.com

 

Sources

1. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/a-list-of-clean-coal-technologies-techniques-ways-to-make-coal-cleaner-more-eco-friendly/

2. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/what-is-clean-coal-technology-how-does-it-work/

3. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/coal-energy-pros-cons-now-future/

4. http://www.lzzgchina.com/news/coal-sand-cleaning-equipment.html

5. https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2019-04-01/coal-fired-power-emissions-mercury/10958128

6. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/apr/03/coal-fired-power-stations-caused-surge-in-airborne-mercury-pollution-study-finds

7. https://ecowarriorprincess.net/2018/04/clean-coal-explained-what-it-is-and-is-it-really-sustainable/

8. https://phys.org/news/2017-03-coal-burning-power-stations-environmentally-friendly.html

9. http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/energy-and-the-environment/clean-coal-technologies.aspx

10. https://apo.org.au/node/216891

11. https://reneweconomy.com.au/how-much-do-ultra-supercritical-coal-plants-really-reduce-air-pollution-70678/

12. https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Coal_power_technologies

A List Of Clean Coal Technologies & Techniques (Ways To Make Coal Cleaner & More Eco Friendly)

A List Of Clean Coal Technologies & Techniques (Ways To Make Coal Cleaner & More Eco Friendly)

Clean coal is not a new concept, but, there seems to always be new developments in the space, in terms of technologies and techniques that have a claim to make coal more eco friendly or ‘cleaner’.

In this guide, we list a range of clean coal technologies that have been used to date, or are in development.

(Note – whether or not clean coal is actually clean, or feasible in the present and future, are separate questions answered in other guides on this site)

 

Summary – List Of Clean Coal Technologies & Techniques (To Make Coal Cleaner)

  • In reality, there are many different clean coal technologies and techniques that help make the burning, or use of coal for energy, cleaner
  • ‘Cleaner’ usually means reducing the air pollution (such as nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and fine particulate matter) or carbon emissions (carbon dioxide) released from the coal-for-energy process (but, it could also be extended out to including more eco friendly ways to dispose of or recycle coal ash for example).
  • As a few examples of clean coal technology designed to do different things – bag filters are designed to catch and filter particulate matter, mercury absorbers absorb mercury, flue desulfurization reduces sulfur, and CSS (carbon capture storage) separates, captures and stores carbon dioxide
  • Some technologies and techniques directly reduce environmentally harmful substances and gases, whilst others aim to make coal burning more efficient (and reduce the amount of coal and therefore waste products in total). Other solutions may be indirect e.g. imposing legal regulations or penalties for emissions which encourage certain practices and discourage others
  • Some of these technologies and techniques have been used for decades or more, whilst some of them are newer and still under development (and may be more speculative than definitive)
  • Clean coal technologies and techniques can happen anywhere from the mining stage (such as washing coal), through to the coal usage stage (such as capturing gases or contaminants), and even waste product stage (such as re-using or storing coal by-product waste)
  • Washing coal at the mine site or immediately after, before it is transported, has been used for a long time
  • Carbon capture and storage (and also carbon capture and use) is one method that gets a lot of attention in the present day. Storage refers to sequestration under ground or in the ocean, whereas capture and use might refer to carbon use for oil enhancement for example
  • And recently, newer ‘high efficiency low emission’ coal plants like super critical and ultra super critical plants have been added to the list of clean coal solutions
  • Some sources say the future of clean coal is gasification of coal, along with carbon capture and storage or re-use. Others say that clean coal technology is too ambitious, unreliable and costly, and we should pursue other energy sources instead, such as natural gas, nuclear and renewables
  • Some of the major barriers to clean coal technology and techniques are cost (both design and operation), along with how energy intensive some coal cleaning or emissions capture and sequester techniques can be. Some technology can also be unreliable and inconsistent, and new clean coal plants have either been discontinued at the pre construction, construction or operation stages for these reasons, and other reasons.

 

List Of Clean Coal Technologies & Techniques

  • Washing coal after it is mined to reduce emissions of ash and sulfur dioxide when the coal is burned
  • Electrostatic precipitators and fabric filters can remove 99% of the fly ash from the flue gases
  • Flue gas desulfurization reduces the output of sulfur dioxide to the atmosphere by up to 97%, the task depending on the level of sulfur in the coal and the extent of the reduction
  • Low-NOx burners allow coal-fired plants to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 40%. Coupled with re-burning techniques NOx can be reduced 70% and selective catalytic reduction can clean up 90% of NOx emissions.
  • Increased efficiency of plant – up to 46% thermal efficiency now (and 50% expected in future) means that newer plants create less emissions per kWh than older ones
  • Advanced technologies such as Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) and Pressurised Fluidised Bed Combustion (PFBC) enable higher thermal efficiencies still – up to 50% in the future
  • Ultra-clean coal (UCC) from new processing technologies which reduce ash below 0.25% and sulfur to very low levels mean that pulverised coal might be used as fuel for very large marine engines, in place of heavy fuel oil [but, technologies under still under development … and wastes from UCC are likely to be a problem]
  • [Carbon capture, and storage (CCS) technology, or Carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) technology. Once CO2 is captured and separated, Sequestration refers to disposal of liquid carbon dioxide, once captured, into deep geological strata. The main potential appears to be deep saline aquifers and depleted oil and gas fields]
  • [Retiring old less environmentally coal plants, and building new supercritical and ultra-supercritical coal-fired plants, also know as high efficiency low emissions plants. An ultra supercritical plant reduces emissions and fuel costs to about 75% of subcritical plants]
  • [carbon taxes can indirectly reduce coal emissions by having a penalty for high carbon emitters]
  • The clean coal technology field is moving in the direction of coal gasification with a second stage so as to produce a concentrated and pressurised carbon dioxide stream followed by its separation and geological storage. This technology has the potential to provide what may be called “zero emissions” – in reality, extremely low emissions of the conventional coal pollutants, and as low-as-engineered carbon dioxide emissions

– world-nuclear.org

 

  • Fine particle pollution is another hazard [from coal energy] where technology exists to mitigate it — but it’s not always used … Fine-particle bag filters can reduce [coal power plant] fine particle emissions.
  • Bag filters can help reduce the amount of PM 10, or particulate matter smaller than 10 microns that power stations release. At this size, particles can enter the lungs and bloodstream.
  • Particles below PM 2.5 pose the greatest threat to health
  • Electrostatic precipitators are … considered best practice for capturing emissions from brown coal
  • Mercury absorbers [can also be used to absorb mercury emissions]

– abc.net.au

 

  • Chemically washing minerals and impurities from the coal [after mining]. This step removes some of the sulfur and other contaminants, including rocks and soil. This makes coal cleaner and cheaper to transport.
  • Gasification [of coal] (see also IGCC)
  • Improved technology for treating flue gases to remove pollutants to increasingly stringent levels and at higher efficiency
  • Carbon capture and storage technologies to capture the carbon dioxide from the flue gas
  • Dewatering lower rank coals (brown coals) to improve the calorific value, and thus the efficiency of the conversion into electricity

– wikipedia.org

 

  • [when coal burns, carbon dioxide and air pollutants come out in the flue gas – which is what is released out of the smoke stack of a coal power plant]
  • [Clean coal technologies work to make coal burning more efficient or to decrease these harmful emissions]
  • Clean coal technology can include…
  • Purifying the coal before it burns [e.g. coal washing]
  • Controlling the coal burn to minimize emissions [e.g. Wet scrubbers, or flue gas desulfurization systems that help remove sulfur dioxide, Low-NOx (nitrogen oxide) burners that reduce the creation of nitrogen oxides, and Electrostatic precipitators that remove particulates]
  • The gasification of coal
  • CO2 processing and processing techniques can include carbon capture storage (in the ground or ocean), flue gas separation, oxy-fuel combustion, or pre-combustion capture
  • Overall, cleaning coal and sequestering emissions raising the price of coal produced energy. This can be offset to an extent by commercializing coal energy waste and by-products, but a carbon tax would then again add to costs of operation

– science.howstuffworks.com

 

The type of coal used can impact how clean the coal burning process is in different ways:

– bettermeetsreality.com

 

CCS (carbon capture storage) can be include:

  • Pre combustion capture, post combustion capture and oxy fuel combustion
  • Other carbon capture and storage technologies include those that dewater low-rank coals

– wikipedia.org

 

  • Using a carbonate looping process [for post-combustion CO2 capture from power plants ]

– phys.org

 

Although commercialising coal waste such as coal ash isn’t traditionally seen as part of the clean coal space, we have written about it in our guide on the pros and cons of coal energy. It can certainly make coal energy more sustainable by making it more sustainable overall.

 

Newest Clean Coal Power Plants (Subcritical, Super Critical & Ultra Super Critical – also called High Efficiency, Low Emissions Plants)

We thought we’d do a specific section for these newer ‘high efficiency, low emissions’ coal plants.

These plants use pulverized coal combustion technology like regular or older coal plants, but have a difference in the steam cycle or the steam pressure within the boiler.

This impacts the efficiency of each plant.

Some notes on these types of coal plants (paraphrased from reneweconomy.com.au):

  • which type of steam cycle is used has no impact on the emissions per tonne of coal burned
  • The only difference between different steam cycles in terms of emissions is how much power they can generate from one tonne of coal
  • A typical new subcritical plant will have a thermal efficiency of 38 per cent, meaning that 38 per cent of the thermal energy contained in the fuel is converted into electrical energy fed into the grid.
  • A supercritical plant will have an efficiency of maybe 42 per cent and a typical ultra-supercritical plant will achieve around 44 per cent (designs going up to 47 per cent are being developed).
  • The difference between subcritical and ultra-supercritical technology is that the total amount of flue gas emitted from the ultra-supercritical plant is about 14 per cent smaller, and hence the capacity of the SO2 control device can be about 14 per cent lower, resulting in savings in investment and operating costs. Resulting SO2 emissions associated with a given emission standard will also be about 14 per cent lower.
  • The same logic applies to the emissions nitrogen oxide (NOx), particulate matter (PM), mercury and other heavy metals. The air quality and health impacts are directly proportional to emissions.

Read more about the differences in these plants in these two resources:

  • https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Coal_power_technologies
  • https://reneweconomy.com.au/how-much-do-ultra-supercritical-coal-plants-really-reduce-air-pollution-70678/

 

Sources

1. http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/energy-and-the-environment/clean-coal-technologies.aspx

2. https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2019-04-01/coal-fired-power-emissions-mercury/10958128

3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_coal_technology#Clean_coal_and_the_environment

4. https://phys.org/news/2017-03-coal-burning-power-stations-environmentally-friendly.html

5. https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/clean-coal.htm

6. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/coal-energy-pros-cons-now-future/

7. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/brown-coal-vs-black-coal-comparison-differences-emissions-more/

8. https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Coal_power_technologies

9. https://reneweconomy.com.au/how-much-do-ultra-supercritical-coal-plants-really-reduce-air-pollution-70678/

What Is Clean Coal Technology (& How Does It Work)?

What Is Clean Coal Technology (& How Does It Work)?

This is a short guide outlining what clean coal technology is, and in a general sense how it works.

 

Summary – What Is Clean Coal Technology?

  • Clean coal technology involves any part of the coal-for-energy process that reduces emissions (usually carbon dioxide) and air pollution/contamination (usually sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter)
  • There’s several ways clean coal technology can be implemented, and each works differently

 

What Is Clean Coal Technology?

The definition of clean coal has changed over time:

  • It started out with washing coal at the mine, which removes some of the sulfur and other contaminants, and makes the coal cleaner and cheaper to transport (wikipedia.org)
  • It then proceeded to CSS (carbon capture and storage technology), whereby the carbon dioxide generated at coal plants it captured and stored underground (usually in rock formations and aquifers)
  • And most recently, it’s been used to describe coal plants with new designs that are more efficient and/or reduce pollution/emissions (such as Super critical coal power plants, Ultra super critical coal power plants, and other types of High efficiency low emission coal power plants)

The reality is though – ‘clean coal’ can be used as a term to describe any part of the coal-for-energy process (it could be a new design, device, method/technique, action, regulation, or something else) that reduces or eliminates emissions (usually CO2) or air pollution (usually sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter).

 

  • The term ‘clean coal’ is increasingly being used for supercritical coal-fired plants without CCS, on the basis that CO2 emissions are less than for older plants, but are still much greater than for nuclear or renewables

– world-nuclear.org

 

For air pollution:

  • [with clean coal technology, the] primary focus was on SO2 and NOx, the most important gases in causation of acid rain, and particulates which cause visible air pollution and have deleterious effects on human health

– wikipedia.org

 

List Of Clean Coal Technologies & Techniques

You can read more in this guide about a list of the different clean coal technologies and techniques.

 

Sources

1. http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/energy-and-the-environment/clean-coal-technologies.aspx

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_coal_technology#Clean_coal_and_the_environment

3. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/a-list-of-clean-coal-technologies-techniques-ways-to-make-coal-cleaner-more-eco-friendly/

Top Reasons Why Coal Is Bad (Problems With Using Coal As An Energy Source)

Top Reasons Why Coal Is Bad (Problems With Using Coal As An Energy Source)

Coal has played an important role in the development of economies and societies over time.

However, we are at a point of time where the consequences and problems of using coal as an energy source are becoming more and more apparent. 

This is a short guide where we outline some of the top reasons why using coal is bad.

 

Summary – Top Reasons Why Coal Is Bad

Some of the main reasons the use of coal as an energy source might be bad now and heading into the future are:

  • Coal is generally (across several different measures) regarded as one of the most dangerous and harmful energy sources
  • Air contaminants emitted by the burning of coal contributing to air pollution
  • Impact on air pollution on human health
  • Cost of air pollution on the health system
  • Greenhouse gases emitted by the burning of coal contributing to climate change and global warming
  • Burning of coal and associated emissions contributing to acid rain, and other environmental problems (like water and soil pollution)
  • Impact of coal mining on the environment, wildlife and local communities
  • Coal waste has to be treated and managed properly
  • Coal is a finite resource
  • Brown coal is inefficient as an energy source
  • ‘Clean Coal’ technology isn’t really clean, and has it’s own set of problems
  • Thermal coal plants can use a lot of water

You can read a full list of pros and cons of coal energy in this guide.

 

Coal Is Generally Considered One Of The Most Dangerous & Harmful Energy Sources

Compared to other energy sources, such as other fossil fuels, nuclear, and renewables, coal is likely one of the most harmful across several measures.

The use of coal can lead to human health problems, increased risk of human health problems, as well as deaths with a likely causal link to coal.

Several factors that can be measured or observed and show a link to coal as a dangerous/harmful energy sources might be:

  • Deaths caused by coal per unit of electricity produced (due to air pollution mainly)
  • CO2 emissions – total emissions, emissions during burning of the energy source, and emissions over the lifecycle of the energy source
  • Harm caused to humans by mining of the energy source
  • Harm caused to humans via exposure to, or as a result of dumping of the energy waste by-products
  • Operational accidents (such power plant disasters)
  • Indirect harm from environmental issues caused by the energy source (such as water pollution, soil contamination etc.)

You can read more in this guide about how across different measures, coal is one of the most dangerous and harmful energy sources.

 

Burning Coal Pollutes The Air

Burning coal releases various contaminants and toxins into the air that contribute to air pollution.

Air pollution leads to a decrease in the quality of the air.

Different types of coal might release different air contaminants, so, the concentration of each contaminant in the air can differ in different regions.

Wind has the ability to carry air contaminants to nearby areas, so, air pollution in one area can eventually affect another.

 

Some further information on air pollution and the burning of coal:

  • Contaminants and pollutants are emitted into the air [when burning coal] such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), mercury, and other chemical byproducts that vary depending on the type of the coal being used
  • These emissions have been established to have a negative impact on the environment and human health, contributing to acid rain, lung cancer and cardiovascular disease

– wikipedia.org

 

  • When brown coal is burnt it releases a long list of poisonous heavy metals and toxic chemicals like sulphur dioxide, mercury, particulate matter and nitrogen oxides

– environmentvictoria.org.au

 

  • Coal-fired power stations were responsible for 49% of all nitrous dioxide emissions in Australia in 2016-17 and 54% of sulfur dioxide emissions
  • A report by EJA … found that the pollution levels of Australian coal-fired power stations would be illegal in the US, Europe and China.
  • Currently the NPI monitors level of up to 93 toxins in the air
  • [People are saying Aus needs a national air pollution monitoring body, similar to the United States Environmental Protection Agency – to control air pollution]

– theguardian.com

 

  • Exposure to air pollution can increase the risk of lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, and heart disease. Coal plants in Europe could contribute towards around 22,000 premature deaths – based on their 2010 emissions, according to a study by the University of Stuttgart

– unearthed.greenpeace.org

 

  • Mercury — which is a highly toxic substance that is hazardous to health and the environment — is released during the burning of lignite (and hard coal), and emitted in the stack gases
  • Almost half of the manmade emissions of mercury in the world are from the burning of fossil fuels, with coal in its various guises as the biggest source in Europe.

– unearthed.greenpeace.org

 

  • PM 10, or particulate matter smaller than 10 microns [is released by power stations]. At this size, particles can enter the lungs and bloodstream. Particles below PM 2.5 pose the greatest threat to health
  • [The article by ABC outlines the energy suppliers who were the highest greenhouse gas emitters in 2018]

– abc.net.au

 

Impact Of Air Pollution On Human Health

Outdoor air pollution has an impact on human health as we breathe in the air.

Air pollution can lead to a range of health conditions impacting the lungs and cardiovascular system in particular, but also other health issues.

It is estimated that air pollution is the cause of over 4000 deaths a day in China alone (bettermeetsreality.com)

Along with transport emissions, electricity generation emissions are a main contributor to air pollution.

 

  • Decreased lung function, increased respiratory symptoms, and increased cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary disease are all considered to have a “statistically significant” relationship with air pollution

– abc.net.au

 

  • The OECD estimates that PM2.5 emissions are responsible for about 740 preventable deaths in Australia each year.

– theguardian.com

 

Cost Of Air Pollution To The Health System

The cost that air pollution has the health system is estimated into the millions and even billions – depending on the country.

Beyond cost, consider all the extra resources that go into treating and managing air pollution related health problems.

 

  • By world standards … pollutants [from brown coal in Victoria in Australia] are poorly monitored & controlled, and they impose a staggering health cost of up to $800 million every year.

– environmentvictoria.org.au

 

  • the cost to Australia from the health impacts of the energy and transport sectors alone could be as high as $6 billion

– abc.net.au

 

Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Burning Coal, & Impact On Climate Change/Global Warming

Coal is the dirtiest form of energy generation there is (although some sources indicate natural gas could come close if you include methane leaks at the natural gas mining/extraction stage and not just the burning of natural gas).

Brown coal in particular is an inefficient energy source, and often needs to be burnt into higher quantities to generate the same amount of electricity as a smaller amount of black coal – and this can lead to increased carbon emissions.

Carbon dioxide emissions obviously are thought to be the most likely primary cause of the warming trend we are seeing in the last 100 to 150 years.

 

Some further information on GHG emissions and the burning of coal…

 

On a global level:

  • Burning coal produces over 14 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year

– world-nuclear.org

 

Globally, annual per year C02 emissions by fuel source, measured in billions of tonnes per year, in 2013, were:

  • Solid Fuel (Coal) – 15.15 (Bt)
  • Liquid (Oil) – 11.79
  • Gas (Natural Gas) – 6.62
  • Cement Production – 2.03
  • Gas Flaring – 249.36 (Millions of tonnes)

– Ourworldindata.org

 

On a country level, particularly in China, coal is responsible for significant carbon emissions (which you can read about in these guides):

  • https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/summary-greenhouse-gas-emissions-united-states-past-present-future/ (summary of GHG emissions in the US)
  • https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/breakdown-energy-use-production-united-states-now-future/ (energy sources in the US)
  • https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/breakdown-energy-use-production-in-china-now-future/ (energy sources in China)
  • https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/the-challenges-with-chinas-transition-from-coal-to-natural-gas-renewable-energy/ (China’s current dependence on coal)
  • https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/summary-greenhouse-gas-emissions-in-china-past-present-future/ (summary of GHG emissions in China)

 

Burning Coal Leads To Acid Rain, & Other Environmental Issues 

Burning coal emits pollutants into the air.

These pollutants can lead to acid rain, which can in turn pollute water sources and soil.

 

  • When coal is burned the sulfur combines with oxygen and the sulfur oxides are released to the atmosphere. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) becomes sulfur trioxide (SO3) when reacting with oxygen in the air. This reacts with water molecules in the atmosphere to form sulfuric acid, a strong mineral acid. This makes rain acidic.

– butane.chem.uiuc.edu

 

Coal Mining Can Have Far Reaching Negative Effects

Coal mining can cause a number of environmental issues in the immediate area of mining – land degradation, damage to wildlife and their habitats, and water pollution.

It can also displace local communities.

In some parts of the world, coal mining also has harmful working conditions and can lead to human health problems (such as ‘black lung’).

 

Coal Waste Has To Be Treated & Managed

Burning coal produces waste such as coal ash.

Coal ash can build up (it makes up up to one fifth of Australia’s waste stream), and contains heavy metals (abc.net.au).

This is a problem if the waste is simply dumped into the environment.

It can be costly to treat, manage and dispose of or even recycle/re-use coal waste in an eco friendly and economical or safe way.

 

Coal Is A Finite Resource

Current confirmed resources of coal in the ground may only last another century or so.

However much coal we have left, there is a chance it could run out, or become very expensive to continue to mine.

As far as we know, it is a finite resource.

Comparatively, renewable energy is an almost infinite resource.

 

Brown Coal Is Inefficient As A Power Source

Brown coal is inefficient as an energy source compared to some types of black coal.

This can make it uneconomical to transport, and obviously, more of it is required to burn compared to black coal for the same amount of electricity.

 

  • Lignite is fairly wet compared to hard coal when it is excavated, and it is often burned wet — it can be as much as 75% saturation in some varieties. This makes it inefficient to burn compared to if it was dried out – which means using more fuel to get the same amount of energy, and more mining.

– unearthed.greenpeace.org

 

‘Clean Coal’ Technology Isn’t ‘Clean’, & Has It’s Own Problems

There are various forms of clean coal technology available.

However, despite the name, it’s not really clean, and it comes with a list of problems.

Some of the problems include:

  • Clean coal technology might be cleaner compared to regular coal power plants, but it’s currently nowhere near as clean as nuclear or renewables
  • Billions of dollars have been spent in the past on research and development of clean coal technology. About $50 billion has been put towards the development and deployment of “traditional” clean coal technologies over the past 30 years (wikipedia.org)
  • Clean coal technology makes the price of coal electricity more expensive
  • Clean coal technology plants have often failed in the construction phase due to various problems (before getting to commissioning and operation stage)
  • Several sources have published ‘myth buster’ type articles about the number of claimed ‘clean coal’ plants being developed, built, or in operation, and in reality, there are few that are in operation worldwide that are significantly lowering emissions and pollution while still staying price competitive. For example, the number of high efficiency low emission plants being built or in operation in Japan and China can be exaggerated (tai.org.au)

 

Thermal Coal Plants Can Use A Lot Of Water

Whether or not water use in a coal plant is a big problem depends on the type of water it uses, and whether that water gets re-used or recycled.

But, the use of freshwater or scarce water resources is obviously an issue going into the future.

What is argued by some is that we have access to far less water intensive energy production in the form of wind and solar voltaic (amongst other energy sources).

Read more in this guide about the water footprint of various energy production methods.

 

Sources

1. http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/energy-and-the-environment/clean-coal-technologies.aspx

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_coal_technology#Clean_coal_and_the_environment

3. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/which-energy-source-is-the-most-dangerous-harmful-which-is-safest/

4. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/summary-greenhouse-gas-emissions-united-states-past-present-future/

5. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/breakdown-energy-use-production-united-states-now-future/

6. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/breakdown-energy-use-production-in-china-now-future/

7. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/the-challenges-with-chinas-transition-from-coal-to-natural-gas-renewable-energy/

8. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/summary-greenhouse-gas-emissions-in-china-past-present-future/

9. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/how-much-water-different-energy-electricity-production-sources-need-use-water-footprint/

10. https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2014/08/28/five-reasons-expanding-brown-coal-mines-might-problem/

11. https://environmentvictoria.org.au/our-campaigns/safe-climate/problem-brown-coal/

12. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/apr/03/coal-fired-power-stations-caused-surge-in-airborne-mercury-pollution-study-finds

13. http://butane.chem.uiuc.edu/pshapley/Enlist/Labs/AcidRain2/index.html

14. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-10/coal-ash-has-become-one-of-australias-biggest-waste-problems/10886866

15. http://www.tai.org.au/content/deconstructing-case-coal

16. https://ecowarriorprincess.net/2018/04/clean-coal-explained-what-it-is-and-is-it-really-sustainable/

17. https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2019-04-01/coal-fired-power-emissions-mercury/10958128

Why/How Coal Is Important To Society (How Coal Can Be Good)

Why/How Coal Is Important To Society (How Coal Can Be Good)

Let’s get something out the way first – this article does not support nor condemn the use of coal going forward.

Rather, it simply outlines why and how coal has been and continues to be (but not necessarily in the future – that is a different discussion altogether) to be important to society in various ways in the present.

 

Summary – Why/How Coal Is Important To Society

  • In the past, coal and other fossil fuels (like oil and natural gas) have been responsible for a lot of the industrial and economic growth we have seen in many developed countries (By 1900, coal consumption had increased significantly, accounting for almost half of global energy – ourworldindata.org)
  • In the present, coal is still heavily used as an energy source in many of these countries
  • Coal provides jobs, incomes and economic growth, among other benefits such as providing a backup or complementary power source to renewables, and providing a cheap/affordable form of electricity where required. It can also help countries gain more energy independence (from other countries) where required. Major power grids around the world are currently set up with their infrastructure to receive energy from fossil fuel energy
  • We even use coal and coking coal in steel production (and use coal as an ingredient in other products we use in society)
  • Where countries in the past haven’t had the technology or logistical requirements to move to renewables or nuclear, coal has been a good option. Also, where countries want more energy independence over relying on foreign energy (such as natural gas from Russia), coal can be useful
  • The negatives and trade offs of coal are numerous though (it would be irresponsible to publish this article without mentioning them) – with some of the major ones being the social and environmental impact of coal mining, and air pollution (via air contaminants and toxins) and greenhouse gas emissions caused by the combustion/burning of coal. Global warming has it’s own set of consequences, but air pollution (when air quality reaches a certain level or specific toxins reach a certain concentration) leads to human health problems (with the lungs and heart) and even environmental problems like acid rain. Coal waste (coal ash) also need to be treated and managed, or the heavy metals can do damage to soil and water (and eventually wildlife) if it’s simply dumped or left untreated/uncontained
  • Even though coal provides many economic benefits, many people argue the drawbacks and damage it does as an energy source far outweigh those benefits, and we should move to cleaner forms of energy

 

How Much Power & Electricity Coal Provides Worldwide

  • Some 27% of primary energy needs are met by coal and 38% of electricity is generated from coal.
  • About 70% of world steel production depends on coal feedstock.
  • Coal is the world’s most abundant and widely distributed fossil fuel source.

– world-nuclear.org

 

  • [In 2017, oil, coal and natural gas lead worldwide primary energy consumption, providing 53, 43, and 35 thousand TWh respectively. The next closest is traditional biofuels at 10 thousand TWh]

– ourworldindata.org

 

How Much Power Coal Provides In The United States

The three major fossil fuels—petroleum, natural gas, and coal—combined accounted for about 77.6% of the U.S. primary energy production in 2017:

  • Natural gas—31.8%
  • Petroleum (crude oil and natural gas plant liquids)—28.0%
  • Coal—17.8%
  • Renewable energy—12.7%
  • Nuclear electric power—9.6%

You can read more about the United States’ energy use and production in this guide.

– eia.gov, bettermeetsreality.com

 

How Much Power Coal Provides In China

  • In 2016, coal made up 62 percent of China’s energy use. Since 2011, China has consumed more coal than the rest of the world combined.
  • In 2015, most of China’s energy and coal use came from the industrial sector, with 67.9 percent of the country’s energy use and 54.2 percent of its coal use due to manufacturing, agriculture, and construction.
  • An additional 41.8 percent of China’s coal consumption came from power production activities.

You can read more about China’s energy use and production in this guide.

– chinapower.csis.org, bettermeetsreality.com

 

How Much Power Coal Provides In Other Countries

You can read more about the energy source breakdown in some other major countries in the world in this guide.

Just as one example, India’s primary energy consumption was made up of more than 50% coal in 2018.

 

Pros & Cons Of Coal Energy

As mentioned above, some of the major benefits of coal energy are cheap/affordable electricity, being able to develop economies and industrial sectors, provision of jobs at coal mines and at coal power plants, and of course provision of incomes.

 

One of the other uncommonly mentioned pros of using coal energy is that it helps countries with energy independence:

  • like renewables, [coal has the advantage of] being a domestic source of energy, particularly appealing for Germany and Poland, both keen to cut their dependence on Russian gas.

– unearthed.greenpeace.org

 

Read a more complete list of pros and cons of coal energy in this guide.

 

Sources

1. http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/energy-and-the-environment/clean-coal-technologies.aspx

2. https://ourworldindata.org/energy-production-and-changing-energy-sources

3. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/coal-energy-pros-cons-now-future/

4. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/breakdown-energy-use-production-united-states-now-future/

5. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/breakdown-energy-use-production-in-china-now-future/

6. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/energy-sources-energy-mix-by-country-where-major-countries-in-the-world-get-their-energy-from/

7. https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2014/08/28/five-reasons-expanding-brown-coal-mines-might-problem/

Brown Coal vs Black Coal Comparison: Differences, Emissions & More

Brown Coal vs Black Coal Comparison: Differences, Emissions & More

We’ve already written a guide about the different types of coal.

In this guide, we outline specifically what black and brown coal are, and their differences.

 

Summary – Brown vs Black Coal

  • There are various different types of coal – each with their own properties 
  • Brown coal tends to be the softer and less efficient energy source 
  • Black coal has multiple stages, and tends to be harder, with a higher carbon content, as well as lower moisture content
  • Each of the coal types also tend to have different carbon emission rates per unit of electricity produced
  • Brown and black coal can be found in different regions of the world

 

Brown vs Black Coal: What They Each Are

You can read our guide here on different types of coal.

Sub-bituminous, bituminous and anthracite are referred to as black coal, whilst lignite is brown coal.

 

  • In Australia, sub-bituminous, bituminous and anthracite are collectively referred to as black coal, whilst lignite is referred to as brown coal (in Europe, sub-bituminous coal is also considered to be brown coal).

– ga.gov.au

 

Brown vs Black Coal: Differences In Properties

Coal types can differ in:

  • Hardness
  • Carbon Content
  • Energy Per Unit
  • and Moisture Content

 

  • As the coal increases in rank [from softer brown coal to harder black coal], the carbon content – and hence the energy content – increases, whilst the moisture content decreases. 

– ga.gov.au

 

  • Black coal is many millions of years older than brown coal and has a lower water content. Black coal has a heat content of approximately 35300 kJ/kg where as brown coal has a heat content of approximately 28470 kJ/kg, depending on the water content.
  • Unlike black coal, brown coal must be dried before it is burnt

– dynamicscience.com.au

 

Apart from these differences, they can also differ in where they are found in the world (geographic location), and in what quantities/abundance.

 

Brown vs Black Coal: Differences In Greenhouse Gas Emissions

OurWorldInData.org has a good graph/chart showing how much carbon dioxide each type of coal fuel source emits per unit of electricity produced – view it at https://ourworldindata.org/fossil-fuels

In order of most to least emissions:

  • Lignite (brown coal)
  • Anthracite
  • Sub Bituminous Coal 
  • Bitumen

– ourworldindata.org

 

Differences In Impact On Human Health & Mortality

When taking into account deaths from accidents and air pollution, brown coal (according to some studies) is more harmful than black coal.

 

Pros and Cons Of Brown Coal Specifically

Unearthed.greenpeace.org has a good article about some of the pros and cons of brown coal:

Pros

  • Can be a cheap form of electricity
  • Can provide jobs
  • Can support the local economy
  • Can provide energy independence for countries like Poland and Germany, who might be keen to cut their dependence on Russian natural gas

Cons

  • Burning brown coal for power is one of the most carbon intensive methods there is (more so than black goal, and more than natural gas)
  • Emits air toxins/contaminants (like NOx and SO2) > this leads to air pollution > this can leads to human health conditions and death > and, air contaminants can travel by wind to other states and countries
  • Emits mercury 
  • Is inefficient – it is wet when it is extracted and burned. So, it takes more brown coal in quantity, and more mining, to produce the same amount of power from less black coal
  • The mining of brown coal can contribute to damage to local communities, pollution of groundwater and surface water sources, and even increase in the risk of flooding

– unearthed.greenpeace.org

 

Other pros and cons of brown coal might be:

Pros

  • Victoria in Australia is one place that enjoys the benefits of brown coal resources for economic growth, jobs and income (environmentvictoria.org.au)
  • Can be a cheaper form of electricity compared to renewable when you take subsidies out of the picture (joannenova.com.au)

Cons

  • When brown coal is burnt it releases a long list of poisonous heavy metals and toxic chemicals like sulphur dioxide, mercury, particulate matter and nitrogen oxides (environmentvictoria.org.au)
  • Victorian (in Australia) brown coal has a high moisture content, containing more moisture than black coal – it can contain up to 70 percent water. This high moisture content makes long distance transportation uneconomic and so brown coal is not currently used for export markets (environmentvictoria.org.au)
  • Air pollutants from brown coal might not be well monitored (environmentvictoria.org.au)
  • The costs on the health system in Australia alone from air pollution might be up to $800 million (environmentvictoria.org.au). Health problems from air pollution can included more common conditions like lung cancer and cardiovascular diseases (wikipedia.org)

 

Sources

1. http://www.ga.gov.au/scientific-topics/minerals/mineral-resources-and-advice/australian-resource-reviews/black-coal

2. https://ourworldindata.org/fossil-fuels

3. https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2014/08/28/five-reasons-expanding-brown-coal-mines-might-problem/

4. https://environmentvictoria.org.au/our-campaigns/safe-climate/problem-brown-coal/

5. http://joannenova.com.au/2019/04/solar-power-at-70-is-still-twice-the-price-of-brown-coal/

6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_coal_technology#Clean_coal_and_the_environment

7. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/types-of-coal-their-uses/

8. http://www.dynamicscience.com.au/tester/solutions1/electric/powerstation/brown%20coal.html

Types Of Coal (& Their Uses)

Types Of Coal (& Their Uses)

Some people are unaware that not all coal is the dark black coal we are used to seeing.

There are actually different types of coal, with different properties, and they might be used in slightly different ways.

 

Summary – Types Of Coal (& Uses)

  • Coal comes in various types, from the softer brown coal with higher moisture content and lower amounts of carbon, to various stages of harder black coal with less moisture and more carbon
  • We mainly use coal in society for energy generation for electricity, but also for key products and processes like steel production
  • Different coal types have different properties, and have different emission rates of both carbon dioxide and air toxins

 

Major Types Of Coal 

Coal might be broadly categorised into black and brown coal. But, the major types of coal are:

  • Anthracite – hard and black. Contains a high percentage of fixed carbon and a low percentage of volatile matter.
  • Bituminous – has a high heating (Btu) value and is the most common type of coal used in electricity generation in the United States
  • Sub-bituminous – black in color … and has a higher heating value than lignite
  • Lignite – aka brown coal, is the lowest grade coal with the least concentration of carbon

– usgs.gov

Coking coal or coke is also made by heating coal or oil with the absence of air.

 

  • Over time, coal progresses in rank from lignite, to sub-bituminous coal, to bituminous coal and finally to anthracite; a process known as coalification. As the coal increases in rank, the carbon content – and hence the energy content – increases, whilst the moisture content decreases

– ga.gov.au

 

Coal is formed when plant material is subjected to high temperatures and pressures lasting millions of years. Several stages are involved in the formation of coal. These are:

  • Plant material, wood
  • Peat
  • Brown coal (lignite)
  • Black coal (sub-bituminous, bituminous and anthracite)

Each successive stage has a lower water content and a higher energy content. This means that when the same quantity of each material is burned, a greater amount of heat is released for each successive stage.

– environmentvictoria.org.au

 

Other Materials Often Related To Coal

These materials might not be coal technically, but they are often related to coal:

  • Charcoal – is man made, whereas coal is naturally formed
  • Peat – not actually coal. But, it is the first step in the process of a material becoming lignite/brown coal. High pressure and heat turns peat into coal

 

How The Different Types Of Coal Are Used

Coal has a major use as an energy source for electricity (burning of coal creates heat, the heat boils water, and steam from the water moves large turbines to create energy).

But, how the different types of coal are used depends on the country and region they are used in.

The type of coal found in a particular region and how abundant and cheap it is might determine how it’s used.

For example, even though brown coal tends not to have as much energy per unit as black coal, it might be cheaper to use in some countries and regions and might be used in coal power plants there (as it can help supply cheap electricity).

It can depend on logistics and other factors.

Aside from using black or brown coal for energy and fuel, coal can be used for:

  • Making steel – coking coal is used in steel production
  • Used as an ingredient in making other chemicals and products
  • Black coal is also used in cement manufacture, alumina refining, paper manufacture and for other industrial purposes (ga.gov.au)

Read more about the uses of coal at https://www.worldcoal.org/coal/uses-coal

 

Emissions From The Different Types Of Coal

OurWorldInData.org has a good graph/chart showing how much carbon dioxide each type of coal fuel source emits per unit of electricity produced – view it at https://ourworldindata.org/fossil-fuels

In order of most to least emissions:

  • Charcoal
  • Coke 
  • Peat
  • Lignite
  • Anthracite
  • Sub Bituminous Coal 
  • Bitumen

Something to note is that more brown coal (in quantity) might need to be burnt compared to black coal to get the same amount of energy, and this can contribute to higher carbon emission rates. So, the inefficiency of brown coal might contribute to it’s higher carbon release rate per unit of electricity.

 

A Note About How Coal Types Can Differ Even Further

Apart from the general types of coal described above, coal can also differ based on where it is found in the world.

For example, certain types of Chinese coal might have slightly different properties than certain types of Australian coal.

 

Sources

1. https://www.usgs.gov/faqs/what-are-types-coal?qt-news_science_products=0#qt-news_science_products

2. https://ourworldindata.org/fossil-fuels

3. http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/geography-miscellaneous/difference-between-coal-and-charcoal/

4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coke_(fuel)

5. https://energyeducation.ca/encyclopedia/Peat

6. https://www.worldcoal.org/coal/uses-coal

7. https://amazingribs.com/more-technique-and-science/grill-and-smoker-setup-and-firing/science-charcoal-how-charcoal-made-and

8. http://www.ga.gov.au/scientific-topics/minerals/mineral-resources-and-advice/australian-resource-reviews/black-coal

9. https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2014/08/28/five-reasons-expanding-brown-coal-mines-might-problem/

10. https://environmentvictoria.org.au/our-campaigns/safe-climate/problem-brown-coal/