Wabash River, IN — Turning power plants on their heads
There's no denying that coal will be mined and used as a resource. But in the United States, about 1200 coal burning power plants produce 90% of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from electric power sector, by far the largest source of global warming pollution! If we continue burning coal the same way we've been doing in the past, we will cook the planet.
A power plant in Wabash River, Indiana has partnered with General Electric to start moving energy production into the future. It's a process called "coal gasification." By crushing coal and combining it with pressure and steam, this new process produces a man-made gas that can be used to fuel super-efficient modern turbines.
That's only half of the equation of turning power plants on their head. There's even more that the Wabash River plant can do. With some modifications, the coal gasification process enables CO2 to be removed altogether, before it is burned, virtually eliminating the global warming impacts of this dirtiest of fuels. The CO2 can be safely buried deep underground. When we stopped in Texas we saw that oil fields are drying up and oil companies are pumping CO2 into the ground to push out hard-to-reach sources of oil.
The technologies are out there and leaders in the energy industry are starting to realize the advantages. We're going to keep using coal, but at least we have ways to use it that are less harmful to our atmosphere. The Wabash River power plant and GE are moving in the right direction. Energy companies are able to choose cleaner technologies. We, as consumers, need to demand change.