The Energy Efficiency of Coal

Written by melissa bajorek
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The Energy Efficiency of Coal
Research currently is underway to increase the efficiency of coal-fuelled power plants. (coal image by robert mobley from Fotolia.com)

More than half of the electricity generated in the U.S. is from coal. However, The U.S. Department of Energy states that modern coal-fuelled power plants convert only one third of coal's total energy potential to usable electricity.

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Goals

According to the Department of Energy, new technology and work being done by their Office of Fossil Energy might double the efficiency of coal-fuelled plants within the next 15 years. Higher efficiency means more economical electricity for the public, and less greenhouse gases for the planet.

The Energy Efficiency of Coal
Coal is a major energy source for the U.S. and China. (lamp image by timur1970 from Fotolia.com)

Effects

Worldwide, the average efficiency of all coal fuelled power plants currently is about 31%. This leaves a lot of room for improvement, and offers a great potential to reduce coal usage and undesirable emissions, like CO2. Since major energy users, like the U.S. and China, plan on remaining coal dependent, focusing on efficiency gains at coal-fired power plants could reduce CO2 emissions greatly on a global level.

Improvements

According to the World Coal Institute, the newest state-of-the-art coal-fired plants can use as much as 45 per cent of coal's available energy. These new, more efficient coal-fired combustion plants reduce emissions of CO2, as well as other pollutants like NOx, SOx and particulates.

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