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Opinions of Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Columnist: Rufai Oseni

EUREKA: Why can’t we use coal in Nigeria?

Coal file photo Coal file photo

Clean coal is the new deal in America and most parts of the world but one wonders why we forgot about Enugu and the coal power.

Enugu with its colliery mines used to be a heartland for the energy sector in Nigeria.

But once the mines shut down we haven’t gone back to the development of coal. I must add coal can be used for many forms of energy generation.

The clean coal technology development effort has provided and will continue to provide, significant economic, environmental, and health benefits. Economic benefits arise in a number of areas. The CCT Program has been instrumental in the commercialization of technologies such as AFBC and IGCC. The program has also demonstrated a variety of new options for the control of sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and particulate emissions from electric power plants operating on coal.

Considerable economic activity is generated through the sale, design, construction, and operation of these new technologies. Furthermore, these new power generation and pollution control options will permit coal to continue to be used as a fuel while minimizing environmental impacts. Because coal is the cheapest fossil fuel, its continued use will save billions of dollars that can be invested in other economic activities.

CCT benefits to the environment are obvious. Decreasing SO2 and NOx emissions reduce acid rain, which in turn reduces acidification and eutrophication of lakes and damage to forests and other vegetation. It also reduces damage to structures made of steel, limestone, concrete, and other materials. CCTs have reduced the number of pollutants emitted by fossil fuel-fired power plants. For example, between 1970 and 2000, emissions of sulfur and nitrogen pollutants from the average U.S. coal-fired power plant have declined by 70 and 45%, respectively.

This has enabled coal use to more than double while allowing the United States to meet its clean air objectives. I think while Nigeria grapples with its energy needs and looks for solutions I think clean coal could help.

I know there is a climate debate but it is shocking most developed nations still use coal as part of the energy mix.

In America coal still takes up 18% of the energy mix and we also could use coal in some measure. Let's all debate this.