Alberta Oil Magazine reports that Vancouver is now North America’s largest coal exporting port. Imagine-even though 66,000 people in China died in 2013 due to pollution from coal according to Tsinghua University (Beijing) we think it’s a good idea to flog it offshore. Burning coal to create electricity creates twice the greenhouse gas per unit of energy as natural gas, and about 30 per cent more than oil. Coal is also the “largest source of human-produced greenhouse gasses” at almost 50 per cent.
“Today, B.C. ports are shipping increasing amounts of coal to Asia, including American coal, for steel production and power generation. Last year, U.S. coal producer Lighthouse Resources started sending coal across the Pacific via Vancouver as environmentalists blocked a new export terminal in Oregon.”
People living in Ladner and Tsawwassen can get a speckled dotting of coal dust on outside items over the winter from the coal that is delivered by train to Deltaport. There has been testing done by Metro Vancouver to ensure that residential areas get 1.7 milligrams or less of coal dust daily. The coal trains have two dust-suppression sprays on the way to the Roberts Bank Terminal. It is expected that even more coal will be shipped with the planned expansion of the Fraser Surrey Docks upriver from Deltaport.
Meanwhile in Great Britain the British are celebrating their first coal free day since 1880. The BBC reports this as a “watershed moment in how our energy system is changing” and an example of how “the once mighty fuel is being consigned to history”.
“Part of the reason is that solar panels and wind turbines now provide much more electricity to factories and homes…And as older, uneconomic coal-fired plants have closed in recent years, the fossil fuel has been playing a much smaller role in our energy system.”
The first centralized public coal-fired generator was at Holborn Viaduct in London, opened in 1882. “According to Gridwatch.co.uk, around half of British energy on the first coal free day came from natural gas, with about a quarter coming from nuclear plants. Wind, biomass, and imported energy were also used.”
While Great Britain tries to move away from coal use, North America facilitates the transport of it to China, which burns 3.7 billion tons of coal annually, or approximately three times that consumed by the United States. As e360 Yale magazine states, Coal is the industry’s “cigarette of the new age” looking for new markets to exploit.