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  • Writer's pictureInga

Coal vs Renewables - The Winner Is Sun, Wind & Co 🎥

Coal is classified as a sedimentary rock. Sedimentary rocks are types of rock that are formed by the accumulation or deposition of small particles and subsequent cementation of mineral or organic particles on the floor of oceans or other bodies of water at the Earth's surface. Coal is a common non-renewable fuel used mainly in the production of electricity. It is a fossil fuel because it forms from dead plant matter. The quality of coal depends on how it formed; as the organic matter is subjected to greater heat and pressure, the carbon content increases. (

Australia has the fourth-largest share of coal reserves in the world. Since 1799 about 9100 million tonnes of black coal and about 2300 million tonnes of brown coal have been mined in every state in the country. The largest black coal resources occur mainly in Queensland and New South Wales. About 70% of coal mined in Australia is exported, mostly to eastern Asia, the remaining used in electricity generation.

Hunter Valley, Australia. Credit: Max Phillips

Unfortunately coal mining has taken a tremendous toll on human health and the environment. Vast tracts of forests, mountains and farmland have been cleared to make way for coal mines. Communities have been forcibly displaced and their lands destroyed.

Communities that live near mines suffer from air and water pollution.

I quote part of an article from “EndCoal.Org”

The toll on the physical landscape is severe. One of the most serious impacts of coal mining is acid mine drainage. Acid mine drainage contaminates ground and surface water with heavy metals and toxins exposed by mining. This destroys aquatic ecosystems and water supplies that communities depend on for drinking and agriculture.

During mining operations, enormous amounts of groundwater are drained from aquifers so mining companies can access coal seams – up to 10,000 litres per tonne of coal. A series of proposed mines in Australia’s Galilee Basin is projected to extract 1,343 gigalitres of water – over 2-1/2 times the amount of water in the Sydney Harbor. This extraction will drastically lower the water table, rendering local wells unusable and impacting nearby rivers. Open cut mines also result in massive erosion and sedimentation of streams, wetlands and rivers.

Today communities around the world – in countries as diverse as China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Australia, Colombia and South Africa – are rising up to oppose new coal mines and demand reparations and restoration for the impacts to their livelihoods and the natural environment.

Solar panels gathering sun power and turbines harvesting wind power at the Burgos Wind and Solar Farm in Burgos, Ilocos Norte in the Philippines.

Electricity production in Australia is still dominated by coal-fired power stations, which contribute one third of it’s net greenhouse gas emissions. An extreme force of development of the renewables sector with government incentives and innovation is urgently required before any significant level of substitution of coal-fired power can take place and ultimately be phased out. Far from being a solely environmental imperative, renewable energy makes economic sense. From rooftop solar to large-scale installations, projects are ramping up all over the country. Imagine what we could achieve with greater government support! An often-overlooked double-dividend results from this trend as well: renewable energy job creation massively exceeds jobs resulting from mining operations, such as coal (New York Times, 2017) where automation has made many roles redundant. With storage technologies from companies such as Tesla proving effective and affordable, the sky's the limit.

We highly recommend the following video published in The Guardian as one of their video series “The Green Recovery”:

Australia loves coal. About 60% of our electricity still comes from polluting, coal-fired power plants, while only 20% comes from renewables. Successive governments have told us that decommissioning coal-fired power would hurt the economy and cause a wave of unemployment. But that's not actually true. In fact, there are enormous opportunities to create jobs and wealth in renewable industries in Australia, including in exporting to countries without the sun and space we enjoy here.

🎥 (3:54) The Guardian, August 2020 - The Green Recovery: how Australia can ditch coal (without ditching jobs)

How could I look my grandchildren in the eye and say I knew about this - and I did NOTHING ? - Sir David Attenborough

REFERENCE (viewed 01.09.2020), May 2019 (viewed 01.09.2020)

The Guardian, The Green Recovery Videos, August 2020 (viewed 01.09.2020)


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