Plenty of Coal Ash Will Need Recycling in Coming Decades

             Coal is likely to remain the dominant source of American electricity for decades to come, according to a new report from the U.S. Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration.  That means tens of millions of tons of coal ash will continue to be produced every year for the foreseeable future.

EIA’s American Energy Outlook 2011 predicts that, absent overly stringent new federal regulations, electricity generation from coal will increase by 25 percent from 2009 to 2035 and that coal will generate 43 percent of America’s electricity in 2035.

 “This report underscores the important role that coal will play long into the future,” said Steve Miller, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. “Coal will continue to be America’s fuel for decades to come because it will remain affordable, reliable and will be used in an increasingly clean manner.”

Recycling coal ash instead of disposing it represents an important strategy to reduce the environmental impact of coal use. Recycling it conserves natural resources and saves energy. In some cases, products made with coal ash perform better than products made without it. For instance, coal ash makes concrete stronger and more durable. It also reduces the need to manufacture cement, resulting in significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. About 12 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions were avoided by using coal ash to replace cement in 2008 alone.

Earlier this year, ACCCE released a report showing that among energy used by American households, electricity has experienced relatively low price increases since 2001. Coal currently provides nearly one-half of America’s electricity supply, and has contributed to the relative stability of consumer electricity prices.  The Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity can be found here.

An executive summary of the EIA report forecasting America’s continued reliance on coal can be found here.

Posted by: on: May 26, 2011 @ 12:48