Texas Electrical Energy – A Case for Coal

4 August 2015 AD
19 Av 5775

How much coal is at our disposal?

Texas Coal Train
Texas Coal Train

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a quarter of all of the known recoverable coal reserves in the world are here in America, and coal is found in 25 states. In fact, we have more energy in the form of coal than the entire Middle East has oil. At the current rate of consumption, coal can meet domestic demand for more than 200 years. [Source: AmericasPower.org]

What about coal ash? Isn’t this byproduct harmful to Americans?

Here’s what the EPA says about coal ash: “Coal combustion residuals, comonly known as coal ash, can be reused in different products and materials. The beneficial use of coal ash is the reuse of coal ash in a product to replace virgin raw materials removed from the earth, thus conserving natural resources. EPA encourages the beneficial use of coal ash in an appropriate and protective manner, because this practice can produce positive environmental, economic, and product benefits…” [Source: EPA.gov]

How can coal waste byproduct be beneficial?

“Concrete made with coal fly ash is stronger and more durable than concrete made with cement alone.” [Source: American Coal Ash Association]

Look around you. The indoor space where you are reading this now probably, almost certainly, is constructed of “dry wall”, gyp board, made of coal ash.

How Roman concrete endured centuries of use baffled scientists for many years until discovery of an important ingredient in Roman concrete: volcanic ash mined from under the very feet of Roman engineers.

More to the point: How is coal beneficial as an energy source?

For an answer, let’s look to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.Texas_Electricity_Source

In 2014, the United States generated about 4,093 billion kilowatthours of electricity.  About 67% of the electricity generated was from fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and petroleum).

Major energy sources and percent share of total U.S. electricity generation in 2014:

  • Coal = 39%
  • Natural gas = 27%
  • Nuclear = 19%
  • Hydropower = 6%
  • Other renewables = 7%
    • Biomass = 1.7%
    • Geothermal = 0.4%
    • Solar = 0.4%
    • Wind = 4.4%
  • Petroleum = 1%
  • Other gases < 1%

Current Power Events

ERCOT reported in March 2014 Texas now has 11,000 mega Watts of available wind energy and there will soon be 8,000 additional mega Watts on line. How can we go wrong?

Photo: John N. White, 7 June 2015, All rights reserved
Windmills Doing NOTHING – Photo: John N. White, 7 June 2015, All rights reserved

We visit our grandson studying at Angelo State University every two to three months. While visiting a couple months ago, we drove by vast fields of windmills DOING NOTHING (see photo above). Why? There was no wind to move them. This past weekend, specifically on August 2, 2015, our most recent visit, we again drove by those vast fields of windmills that were DOING NOTHING. There was no wind.

On July 30, 2015, Thursday before our last trip to San Angelo, ERCOT appealed to its customers – you, me and everyone – to curtail electrical use. “Electric demand this week has reached three consecutive July records, breaking 67,000 megawatts (MW) for the first time since 2011 on Wednesday, July 29, when demand stayed above 67,000 MW for three consecutive hours, peaking at 67,590 MW during the hour ending at 5 p.m.

Where was the “Wind Energy Calvary” on July 30, 21015? This same ERCOT news release stated, “we are expecting less wind generation during today’s peak.” What were those vast fields of windmills doing for us? They were DOING NOTHING. There was no wind.

B0ttom Line: Peak Demand

When we call on natural gas to give us electricity, we turn on the gas valves. When we call on natural coal to give us electricity, we open the hoppers. Under no circumstances whatsoever can we rely on windmills. We have no control of the wind.

When God set the whole thing up, He gave us 25% of all the coal in the entire world sufficient to supply us electricity, highway concrete and wall board for the next 200 years. And, He conveniently placed it in 25 of our 50 states. Texas is the fourth largest coal producing state in the nation.

John White
Rockwall, Texas

One thought on “Texas Electrical Energy – A Case for Coal

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