Image Credit: TVA
TVA tells us the power plant on the left generates 9 billion KW of electricity a year - sufficient for 580,000 homes. At Shawnee, TVA has 10 coal-fired plants. The facility is old - it was completed in 1957 and burns 9600 tons of coal a day. If I did the math correctly, that is 13,675 cubic yards of coal a day. The price of coal varies widely - see the EIA's average sales price of U.S. coal. An average price is about $50 per ton.
Worldwide, coal is the largest source of energy for generating electricity. Wikipedia tells that the United States has the world's largest coal reserves - 22 percent, followed by Russia at 14 percent. The dilemma is that it is hard to find a more environmentally costly fuel than coal. Mmm. Seems like we should be tackling that real hard, doesn't it?
Some additional facts about coal: a) 1/3 of the U.S. coal comes from the Appalachian coal region, b) 93 percent of U.S. coal is used for producing electricity, c) Wyoming is the largest coal-producing state.
Last week TVA announced it was going to idle nine coal-fired power generating units. One of them is at the Shawnee power plant. Six of them are at the Stevenson AL plant. The total reduction is 1,000 MW of power, but the plan is to replace them with more environmentally compatible energy sources.
I have no disagreement with taking older fossil plants offline. But the United States having such large coal reserves seems like yin and yang. Should we use them or not?