Coal Fired Misinformation

Posted on Fri 05/13/2011 by


Sometimes it’s not easy to sort the relevant information from all of the information available, and this is where a technical expertise is of great assistance.

WikiPedia and its associated sites offer the ability for people to come into their sites and add information. As we are fully aware, this sometimes leads to information that is slanted to suit an agenda being entered, and information not suited to that agenda either does not get entered there or is removed soon after it is entered.

While some Wiki sites are quite informative, others definitely have an obvious agenda, and when it comes to environmentalism, that agenda is plain to discern.

I use Wiki sites frequently, and, as I Post on the subject of electrical power, I can sort out the relevant information from the information that is slanted to support an environmental viewpoint.

One such site lists the coal fired power plants in the U.S. and that is one site where anything bad that can be said about coal fired power plants is entered there.

In the main, the link paints as bad a picture as it possibly can about coal fired power in general, listing as many bad points as it possibly can in what could probably be 20 screens of text, further links, and charts.

The site is at the following link:

Existing U.S. Coal Plants

Now, why I use the site is because it lists the coal fired plants by age and also by their Nameplate Capacity, as those two charts are indeed informative, and I have included images of both of those charts here at this Post.

Why I refer to that site on an occasional basis is with reference to the ever increasing rate of construction of Renewable power plants.

We are told that the introduction of these Renewable plants will lead to the eventual closing down of those large scale coal fired power plants, and these two images are most important when looking at how this is actually not happening.

This first chart indicates the size of those coal fired power plants by Nameplate Capacity, and the number of plants in each of the areas indicated there.

Those large scale coal fired plants are the bottom two there, those plants over 1,500MW. If you add the total Capacity of both of those large scale plants together and then divide by the number of plants (140,577MW and 67 Plants) you find that the average size of those 67 plants is around 2,100MW. your typical large scale coal fired power plant.

What is also worth noting from this image is that even with the considerable ramping up of construction of those Renewable power plants that total number of large scale coal fired power plants has not changed in two years. That ramping up of construction is mainly in the Wind Power Generation sector, and there is now 41,000MW of Nameplate Capacity for Wind Power in the U.S. and this is the equivalent of 21 of those large scale coal fired plants, and yet not one of those large scale coal fired plants has closed.

The next important image shows the age of all those coal fired power plants in the US. This is important on many levels. The most important thing here is that coal fired power plants have a life span of around 50 years. While they can be re-licensed out to 60 years and even 75 years, the typical life span is around that 50 years.

Keep in mind here also that the average life span for Wind towers, and both of the two main Solar power plants, all three of the supposed Renewables is only 20 to 25 years.

This image shows that in the last 20 years, the top 4 entries there, the U.S. has constructed 125 coal fired plants, but the average size is only around 170MW, which makes them very small power plants, considering large scale plants average that 2,100MW. Any large scale coal fired plant does not even get past the thought bubble stage, because there is almost zero chance of it ever being constructed.

On the other hand, if the usual 50 year life span is taken into account, look at the total for 1960 and earlier, and there are a lot of large scale coal fired plants in that age group, and if you look at the list of the oldest coal fired plants in the U.S. at this link on that same page, you will see that there are 37 entries, and 21 of those are in that large scale plant size grouping, and the cutoff date here is 1950, SIXTY years ago.

In fact, the average age of every coal fired power plant in the U.S. is now standing at 48 to 49 years, and that is worth noting when considering the normal life span is that 50 years, and most of those large scale coal fired plants are in that late 40 years old category and older.

In their rush to put as much ‘bad’ information at that Wiki site, they also provide what they perceive as ‘good news’, the number of coal fired power plants closing down in the near future, as this they perceive as an indicator of coal fired power ‘getting the message’ that their emissions are supposedly causing harm to the environment.

The site provides a list of plants closing in the near term, shown at this link. That list has 60 coal fired power plants on it. Only TWO of those are in that large scale plant size, and they just barely scrape in at the lower end of 1,500MW.

So, while 60 plants are closing, they are in the main all of them in the small scale range, not even medium sized plants.

The site is chock full of information, but nearly all of it paints the picture that coal fired power is ‘a really bad thing’.

They quote things that they perceive as being ‘bad’ and then don’t even realise just why that situation exists, and take this example as just one of those things, where it says:

To put this in perspective, U.S. coal-fired power plants produced more CO2 in 2004 than was emitted by all sources in all of Africa, South America, and Central America combined.

Wow, those coal fired power plants really are a bad thing aren’t they?

The U.S. is a First World fully Developed Country. The other three areas with all those Countries are all still Developing Countries, as indicated by the UNFCCC (U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change)

What this means is that in the U.S. everyone has access to a constant reliable and regulated supply of electrical power for every contingency.

In those still Developing Countries, the people there, in the main, do not have that access to electrical power at anywhere even approaching the scale that they do in the U.S.

So, while everybody in the U.S. does have electrical power connected to where they live, where they work, and where they carry out everything in their daily lives, that is most certainly not the case in those other Countries.

In those other named Countries, there is also nowhere near the Industrialisation that there is in the U.S. where every sector of Industry and also Commerce has electrical power connected to it.

As 60 to 65% of every Watt of power being generated in the U.S. is required absolutely on a 24/7/365 basis, then a constant supply of electricity that can actually be provided on that scale is needed, and currently, only Coal fired power and Nuclear power can provide that.

So, while the US emissions of CO2 are higher than from every source in all those Countries in those other three Areas, there is a perfectly good reason for that, something that the person who wrote that entry at the site did not even bother to check.

The site also mentions Carbon Capture as they refer to it as, and this is shown at this link. This is really Carbon Dioxide Capture and Sequestration. (CCS)

For the life of me, I just cannot figure out why people still believe this is a viable option on any scale, let alone on large scale, let alone retrofitting it to a plant of any size Nameplate Capacity.

For an explanation of CCS, euphemistically given the laughable title of ‘Clean Coal, read the Post at the following link.

Kerry Lieberman’s Clean Coal Hole In The Ground – Just Throw In Money

So, while most Wiki sites have a definite agenda, once the relevant information is sorted out from that other information, an entirely different perspective is shown.

Such is the case here with this site.

Wiki offers up quite a lot of good information, but when bias indicating an agenda enters the equation, it needs very careful explaining and this explanation adds that perspective to what is basically misinformation when that correct perspective is explained.