Why Coal Ash
Almost half of America’s electricity is generated by burning coal. That figure is not likely to change much in the future. Because Americans continue to consume more electricity every year, renewable energy sources will do well just to keep up with increases in demand. The U.S. Department of Energy predicts that in 2030, we will actually generate 19 percent more electricity from coal than we did in 2007.
Generating that much electricity produces large volumes of coal ash — solid materials left over from the combustion process. According to the American Coal Ash Association, about 136 million tons of this material was produced in 2008. The good news is that over 44 percent of it was recycled rather than disposed.
There are many good reasons to view coal ash as a resource, rather than a waste. 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.
To learn more about the benefits of recycling coal ash, visit:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Coal Combustion Products Partnership
The American Coal Ash Association
Coal Ash Facts