Coal is a fossil fuel which is black or brownish-black in color, and is a sedimentary rock that has high levels of hydrocarbons and carbons (Gustafson, 2007). Coal has the stored energy of plants which lived in swamps millions of years ago (Gustafson, 2007). Types of coal include anthracite, bituminous, subbituminous, and lignite (Gustafson, 2007). Production and use of coal affect the environment, including global warming, water acidity, acid rain, and table levels. There are also flying ash which contaminate waterways and lands and destroys land; large consumption of water by coal power stations, ground fire which causes land to subside and surface fires which produce coal tar, ammonia, and gaseous compounds that pollute air, water, and land. Coal pollution mitigation includes setting standards, satellite monitoring, carbon storage, and capture; and combined cycle power stations. Coal is used for electric power and in industries like steel production, and it is converted into liquids and gas and processed into chemicals or utilized as fuel. Industries can use nuclear power and renewable sources such as biomass as energy options. For sustainability, firms need to transition to more sustainable fuels, become energy efficient, and flexible in operations such as minimal emissions of CO2. Firms can also adopt water-saving technology of cooling, treating effluent and recycling as production water, and burying waste ash (Gustafson, 2007).
Conventional Energy Alternative- Nuclear Power
Nuclear energy can be explained as the form of energy produced through an atomic reaction and can produce alternative electrical power source to that produced by coal, oil, or gas. It is at times viewed as the solution to the crisis in climate, as electricity acquired in large quantities from coal, natural gas, and oil combustion require to be replaced by other alternatives having more limited climate effects (Omer, 2012). The primary effect of nuclear power incorporates fuel procurement, plant construction, radioactive waste, and thermal load of cooling water released in the sea. However, nuclear plants utilize uranium which when mined produces high levels of carbon dioxide, as well as emitting low radiation levels in the environment. High-level radiation and nuclear safety are main factors in the management of environmental effects of nuclear power (Omer, 2012). Nuclear power plants have also had the worst environmental effects of attacks and accident, such as Fukushima disaster and Chernobyl disaster (Omer, 2012). Nuclear energy is used in many areas, including in electricity, medicine, agriculture, food production, consumer products, transport, industries, in the environment and water resources; and space missions. Some of the alternative sources include solar power, natural gas, hydrogen, and thorium. For sustainability, nuclear power plants need to find proper ways to ensure safety and proper disposal of nuclear waste (Gustafson, 2007).
Renewable Source of Energy- Solar
Solar energy is radiant heat and light from the sun which is harnessed by use of a range of technologies that are ever-evolving. For instance, there are solar thermal energy, solar heating, solar architecture, photovoltaics, artificial photosynthesis, and molten salt power plants. Solar energy has indirect impacts of energy compared to other energy sources. There are several toxic chemicals and materials utilized in making photovoltaic cells which convert light from light into electricity. It is used to generate electricity, as heat for cooking, heating buildings, and heating water, industrial application, and to remove salt from seawater. An alternative to solar energy can be wind energy, which is also renewable. Solar energy is sustainable and is more sustainable inherently compared to fossil fuels sources of energy. There is a surplus of solar power to cover all energy requirements across the world even when the population increasingly grow and consume additional energy. Solar energy firms only need to make solar panels cheaper (Omer, 2012).
- Gustafson, G. (2007). Energy conservation and pomeron loops in high energy evolution. Brazilian Journal Of Physics, 37(2c), 816-818.
- Omer, A. (2012). Energy, environment and sustainable development. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032107000834