How to Win the Argument Against Coal-Fired Power Plants

The punch line of most arguments by supporters of coal is that it is cheap and that most of the biggest economies of the world have thrived on coal power. Here is how to debate and win the argument on both health, environmental and economic grounds:

Coal plant

1. Coal is not the cheapest source of energy. We don’t know how people define ‘cheap’ but how do we compare bio-gas (human excreta), solar power and wind power which are absolutely free to coal being cheap? Most supporters of coal and dirty energy do not internalize the externalities. If they spend time to do so, they will realize that coal is very expensive in all sense of the word;

2. The fact that we believe or think that something is ‘cheaper’ doesn’t mean we should chase and pursue it. You will look at it’s future implications and consequences before you consider it because “cheaper” coal as people put it comes at a cost, very deadly and catastrophic- health wise, environmentally and economically;

3. We are very surprised people don’t see the paradox in the whole proposal by Shenzhen Energy Group (SEG) to build a 700MW coal-fired power plant in Ghana. China earlier this year started discussions on putting a price on coal (carbon) because of ‘airpocalypse’ that hospitalized more than 1,000 babies. Click here to read;

4. Life expectancy in China today has been reduced by 5.5 yrs in some 500 million people due to pollution related to coal. Click here to read;

5. Doctors in Australia in a report have agreed that “coal is a health hazard from start to finish” because of it’s health impacts costs running into $300 million annually together with 4,000 asthma cases per year. Click here to read full report;

6. According to the Health and Environment Alliance, 80,000 to 115,000 premature deaths occurred in India between 2011-2012 due to coal related pollution. Click here to read;

7. The economic impact of pollution by coal burning has been ruthless on the Chinese economy. Illness, premature death and loss of productivity is costing the country more than $100 billion a year. Click here to read;

8. The burning of 20 million tons of coal by SEG through Asogli would release 2 million tons of ashes (10% ash per ton) which are heavily contaminated solid waste that has to be disposed off eventually. In addition to this are the thousands of gallons of water that would be needed for the purification and cooling systems which consequently are discharged as heavily contaminated water. Most of these are discharged into rivers and lakes. Some of the environmental impacts of coal are explained in details here;

9. Coal plants in the US are falling at an annual rate of 7%. Coal plants are down from 633 in 2002 to 589 in 2011. The American government has now realized coal-fired plants are bad investment. Click here for details;

10. Finally, coal power is not the cheapest in the world currently. Australian wind energy is now cheaper than coal and gas. Details can be seen here.


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