Coal & the Environment
Coal, like all other sources of energy, has a number of environmental impacts, from both coal mining and coal use.
Coal mining raises a number of environmental challenges, including soil erosion, dust, noise and water pollution, and impacts on local biodiversity. Steps are taken in modern coal mining operations to minimise these impacts.
Continuous improvements in technology have dramatically reduced or eliminated many of the environmental impacts traditionally associated with the use of coal in the vital electricity generation and steelmaking industries. Viable, highly effective technologies have been developed to tackle the release of pollutants - such as oxides of sulphur (SOx) and nitrogen (NOx) - and particulate and trace elements, such as mercury. More recently, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) have become a concern because of their link to climate change.
There is now growing recognition that technology developments have to be part of the solution to climate change. This is particularly true for coal because its use is growing in so many large economies, including the largest and fastest growing countries such as China and India.
Photo courtesy of Vattenfall