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monsoon

Energy Conservation and the Buring of Coal

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I'm not sure if we talked about this topic before, but did people here know that in the USA, the equivalent of 20 lbs of coal is burned for every man, woman & child in the country every day to generate electricity.

Forgetting global warming, this generates a huge amount of pollution which can be easily observed in the environment. Do you think that if people knew they were burning a sack of coal each day, they might have a different attitude on the amount of energy they use?

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It bother's me greatly that coal fired power plants are generating the bulk of our country's energy. It bother's me greater that utility companies fight cleaner coal-burning technology tooth and nail and our 'industry-friendly' government allows the concessions to keep polluting our atmosphere. We desperately need a bigger push to cleaner energy sources such as wind, solar, hydro, and tidal. We also need to retrofit existing coal faciliies with technology to limit pollutants released. I don't see much change in this for the next 5-10 years and sadly, there are still new coal plants on the drawing boards....

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I don't think people realize the consequences of burning coal. All we ever hear is that is plenty of coal to go around as compared to oil and that we would be better off if we could cut oil usage as opposed to coal products. Unless the PR campaigns by power companies and the governmnent changes course, nothing is going to change. We need a massive education campaign on the benefits of alternative energy along with even more massive efforts and monetary input by the government into those same sources.

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I'm not sure that there are more people that care than do not care if they burned a sack of coal a day. The problem isn't the method of electricity creation but is more so that so many folks could care less what they're dumping into the environment. This is most evident when viewing what gets most Americans from point A to point B, gas guzzling automobiles.

Extremely tight government regulations should cloud over coal plants and similar dirty electricity facilities but I have high doubts that we'll see that happening anytime soon.

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We also need to retrofit existing coal faciliies with technology to limit pollutants released. I don't see much change in this for the next 5-10 years and sadly, there are still new coal plants on the drawing boards....

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How much would it cost for the average 3 bedroom, 1500-2000 sq. foot house to buy and install solar panels that were sufficient to power it's needs?

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How much would it cost for the average 3 bedroom, 1500-2000 sq. foot house to buy and install solar panels that were sufficient to power it's needs?

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So we're living a pipe dream until the average American can realistically afford to buy something like a solar panel system. I wish they would hurry up and bring the prices down and increase the research into it to make it more efficient.

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The solar panels have a 10-15 year life span, at the outside, as well. So if you chose to go that route, it is a recurring expense you'd have to budget for.

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Assuming those panels lasted 15 years and cost $15,000, you are talking about $1000/year which means a monthly utility bill of about $84. So it's not economically unfeasible given these systems also get tax credits and can be included in the mortgage. Most localities also require a utility to buy back (at reduced rates) excess power that you might want to sell to them so that is another avenue for cost recovery.

An even more economical way to use solar power is to install a solar power water heater. They are much less expensive and eliminate one of the big users of energy in a home. Lots of these systems were installed in the 1970s when the public conciseness was geared more towards conservation over consumption as it is today. You can still occasionally see one of these old system. The newer ones are much more easy to install and operate.

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That's true if you have 15K lying around, but if you finance it for 10 years at 10% (My CU is lending at 11%, but I didn't have tables for that, so I used 10), then your payments will be @ $210 a month. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't save most people that much a month.

The water heaters are a great addition, though, and are more cost effective. I may look at installing some when the present water heater dies.

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That's true if you have 15K lying around, but if you finance it for 10 years at 10% (My CU is lending at 11%, but I didn't have tables for that, so I used 10), then your payments will be @ $210 a month. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't save most people that much a month.

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Agreed, and with time and demand, it will become less costly. Eventually, cost will no longer be the issue, but size will, because 300w/m^2 is about as much as you can get out of them now.

Just a quick, back of the envleope calculation... assume you can get 4 average hours per day of full power of the course of a month.

4 * 300 * 30 = 36000Whrs=36kWhr

My eletric company charges .10209 per kWhr, 36 * 0.10209 = $3.67 saved per square meter of solar cell per month.

I'm counting this as study time for my PE exam : ;) :

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Its too bad that housing draws are the smaller uses of power. A house probably averages a demand of 1kW over a 24hr period. That means a decently sized industrial complex can easily use the power requirements of 20,000-100,000 houses. I haven't added it up, but I'd wager the area I work in, industrial facilities use 200MW at least, which is around 200,000-250,000 houses, which is 3 times the amount we serve. A little research shows there are around 127 million houses in the US. I'm sure some use more than 1kW, and some use less. According to ASME, there are about 1400 coal fired units in the US. At 1000MW each, if every single home had 0 energy demands (good look with some of them), you would still have 1200 units online, not to mention all the other power plants. Yea, it helps, but its not this drastic drop that everyone thinks.

First of all, most plants are currently being refit, or have plans to refit with new scrubbers, baghouses, precipitators and absorbers. If you were to actually walk up and touch this equipment, you'd see why its expensive, its huge. Absorbers are made entirely of stainless steel to avoid corrosion. The biggest issue now is CO2, most of the particulates, NOx and SOx are dealt with (about 95%). There is a R&D facility about to be started that is planning on eliminating the CO2 issue as well, but I can't really discuss it in detail.

Also, as a common misconception, most pulverized coal plants do not burn appalachian coal, but get it from wyoming due to its lower sulfur content. The type of plant that is used more for the eastern coal is a CFB (circulating fluidized-bed) which mixed limestone in with the coal to reduce SOx emissions and avoid getting to a temperature that produces much NOx.

Here are references (though some comes from my experience):

http://www.asme.org/NewsPublicPolicy/GovRe...S_CoalFired.cfm

http://www.babcock.com/pgg/tt/pdf/BR-1691.pdf

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Congress has FINALLY decided that conservation is a good idea. They have taken up the idea of mandating energy efficient light bulbs. The legislation would require that 40-, 60-, 75- and 100-watt incandescent light bulbs be phased out by 2014 and requires that light bulbs be 300 percent more efficient by 2020. "Energy-efficient bulbs could save more than 65 billion kilowatt hours of electricity a year," said Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., a House of Representatives co-sponsor of the bill. "That's the equivalent of 80 coal-fired power plants."

More information is at http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/19670.html

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There is something that is often overlooked when burning coal: the source. I posted a series of articles here at UP regarding some West Virginia mountaintop-removal issues and etc., and it truly sickens me when I drive by and see extensive valley fill operations and the scarring of the landscape.

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