Beyond the Cusp

May 19, 2014

Does a Renewable Energy Source Exist to Replace Coal?

There are rumors that President Obama actually desires making coal use for generating electricity or powering anything from locomotives to furnaces unusable by regulating and adding governmental costs making it financially unfeasible. So, that begs the question of what in the universe can we find to replace coal to produce the almost sixty percent of electricity currently facilitated by coal. There has been the suggestion that these coal fired plants could all be converted to natural gas. Besides the enormous expense of switching from coal to natural gas being prohibitive, not all the coal plants are capable of being easily transformed to coal and others might be more readily and financially affordable to switch to oil fired plants, also a target of the ecological lobby for extinction right behind the death of coal, so that would only be a temporary fix at great expense. Replacing the coal plants with nuclear fueled generation plants would take far too long to bring then on-line and producing as the first set of new regulations and fees on the coal plants are set to be applied this year. President Obama fully intends to keep his promise to make coal too expensive to be a viable fuel for electrical generation. The drive to force the United States to reliance solely on renewable energy production is well on its way to fruition. Coal is simply the first step and it will only be a matter of time before all carbon fossil fuels will be regulated and financially pressured out of business. So, what do we use that is reusable to produce electricity in the future or do we simply return to a pre-electricity society and using candles to light our homes at night and sweaters and blankets to warm us in the cold of winter?


The claim that solar power has become viable is a bunch of eco-propaganda. Hydrogen powered plants are not feasible as it is still far too energy intensive making the hydrogen in quantities necessary to generate sufficient electricity to meet the current needs, let alone the likely increase in the future. If fusion power had been made even possible it might have provided a sufficient alternative to coal. The real problem with finding an alternative to coal is the simple enormity of the demand as there does not yet exists any eco-friendly fuel that could even be considered a viable or available alternative. The one renewable source of fuel that currently exists is the venerable tree but even wood could not be renewed fast enough to actually serve the purpose. There would be other side-effects to attempting to use trees as a replacement and renewable fuel source for coal; it would not leave any wood for furniture, boats, baseball bats, crochet mallets (not an earthshaking loss) or numerous other items many of which are enhanced by the beauty of wood with its natural grains and other qualities. Wood from trees provides a building material unequalled and unreplaceable for many numerous applications. Simply burning trees to make electricity would first of all still produce the same pollutants as coal, as trees left to age deep underground long enough might become the coal in the future, and secondly would denude the world’s forests in a very short time thus making trees actually not workable as a renewable fuel source. Maybe we need to slow down just enough to realize a workable and affordable plan to replace coal as the main provider of electrical generation and phase it out rather than tax and regulating it out with no plan in place to allow modern life to continue. Do we need to find a cleaner fuel than coal? Probably, but coal has been made cleaner and many, if not most, coal fired plants have been modernized and are far cleaner than they were just twenty years ago. Technology has been working to find cleaner and renewable energy sources and will, with time, find the next fuel source. Until that discovery has been made and a reliable and affordable replacement fuel is found, it might be prudent not to burn down the bridges to coal power quite yet. The other thing that needs to be kept in consideration, coal is one of the most cost efficient methods of producing electrical power and without coal fired electrical generation much of the newly developing nations would not have the electrical power necessary to continue their evolution to modernity. With time and the added affluence that will come with advanced abilities and technologies these nations too will transfer to cleaner energy generation. The one truth we have learned from the experiences of European nations, the United States and the rest of the first world nations are that with affluence and advancing technology the amounts of pollution produces as a byproduct of industry and power generation steadily decreases. Should governments apply pressure to facilitate the switch to cleaner energy? Yes, but not at such a price as to make life so expensive that the level of comfort for the majority of the people is destroyed because power becomes too costly. The idea is to progress as quickly as possible without leaving any large numbers of people behind and unable to adapt to the new energies. Time, effort, research and eco-friendly considerations are necessary for progress in energy generation but so is compassion, economics, feasibility studies and a steady, methodical, well-thought-out setoff plans is also necessary if the entirety of society is to be brought into the new eco-energy age as a whole, and that should be the plan, not just a bull-rush, damn the torpedoes, full-speed ahead.


Beyond the Cusp


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