Technologies which allow the integration of power stations underground and as such reduce the damaging effects of surface coal mining (Allied Publishers)
Technologies which reduce the environmental damage associated with coal burning such as fluidized bed combustor or coal gasification (National Energy Education Development Program)
Efforts in the creation of additional sources of renewable energy, such as hydro energy, wind energy or solar energy
On the downside, it has to be noted that the development of technology could not have been possible without the existence of coal. In other words, the simple advent of technology has generated higher levels of coal consumption and has accelerated the process of coal consumption and environmental instability (Laskowski, 2001).
Today, the needs and limitations of energy generation with coal burning have yet to be fully addressed and resolved. This specifically means that the bilateral relationship between technology and coal would continue to unfold -- the needs of coal would stimulate technological developments and the technological developments would support the creation of sustainable coal operations.
5. The future of coal
The future of coal is difficult to foresee. This resource has constituted the starting point in the creation and development of the modern day society. It is unlikely for it to entirely disappear from human activities, but it is also indubitable that its approach would have to suffer modifications in order to leave room for environmental sustainability. In terms of the opinions in the specialized literature, these reveal various scenarios.
William Graebner at the Organization of American Historians for instance argues that coal usage to generate energy would soon reach its maximum potential and will no longer be able to balance out the population's dependency of oil. Additionally, he argues that the use of coal could increase in the detriment of nuclear power. The demand for coal would nevertheless increase especially when the price of oil is expected to increase and the populations would reveal a more intense need for low cost sources of energy, such as the coal (Graebner, 1976).
Robert Underwood (1977) believes that the coal sector would remain stable as long as the coal reserves are concentrated. Nevertheless, he argues that modifications would have to be made in the field of mining, as major challenges are raised in this particular sector of coal extraction. Finally, the editors at Planete Energies argue that the future of coal depends on the policies which would be developed, but they are rather confident that, due to the reserves which are estimated to last for another 200 years, coal would remain a primary source of energy at least for the first half of the twenty-first century.
The changes which impact the modern day society have a direct outcome of reducing environmental stability. In order to gain a deeper understanding of this stability, a discussion has been launched regarding coal. The fossil fuel has been used by the populations for centuries now and continues to constitute the main source of energy. The problem resides however in the fact that the consumption rates exceed the rates of coal creation, which requires hundreds of millions of years.
Coal has been a constant presence within the human societies, but its true evolution and popularity increased only during the sixteenth century as the British replaced wood with coal. Coal has also empowered the individuals to set the basis of the modern day labor force which protects its rights. Through history, mankind has strived to replace coal with other sources of energy, but the single effect has been that of diversification, with coal remaining the primary source of energy. Oil has been a viable alternative for a while, but the high costs made the populations turn to coal once again. Other alternatives such as solar energy or nuclear energy have yet to be fully developed and up for commercial use.
The future of coal remains unclear, but within the immediate period, it is expected for the fossil fuel to remain the primary source of energy. Future developments would depend on the policies being implemented, as well as the technologies being developed and implemented.
Graeber, W., Coal-mining safety in the progressive period: the political economy of reform, University Press of Kentucky, 1976
Laskowski, J., Coal flotation and fine coal utilization, Gulf Professional Publishing, 2001
Leer, S.F., Anderson, G.F., Vision 2020: The role of coal in U.S. energy strategy, DIANE Publishing, 1997
Nersesian, R.L., Energy for the twenty-first century, M.E. Sharpe, 2007
Singh, R.D., Principles and practices of modern coal mining, New Age International, 2007
Tabak, J., Coal and oil, Infobase Publishing, 2009
Underwood, R., the future of Scotland, Taylor & Francis, 1977
Yu, Q.Y., the implementation of China's science and technology policy, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999
About coal, by Design, 2004, http://www.bydesign.com/fossilfuels/links/html/coal.html last accessed on November 25, 2010
Coal, National Energy Education Development Program, http://www.need.org/needpdf/infobook_activities/SecInfo/CoalS.pdf last accessed on November 25, 2010