From the Elysian Republican, November 2068
From our correspondent in London, UK
Yesterday the last remaining operational coal-fired power station has been decommissioned. The combined cycle station used coal gasification to generate electricity, while its waste heat was used for household heating and its exhaust carbon-dioxide was sequestered in depleted gas fields.
The power station in […] is not closed because Earth’s coal reserves have been depleted, the New Earth Organisation reports that there are still massive reserves of coal, but primarily because Australia has decided to close its last coal mine for environmental reasons. Also the federal government states that keeping this mine open for just one single power station is not economic viable. And since other coal mining nations has closed their mines several decades ago, the owners of the power station were forced to close it.
Coal power has been in sharp decline over the last four decades, mainly because the rapid increase of solar power. Large parts of the third planet are now covered with solar arrays. Large solar power plants have been installed in Earth’s major deserts: the Sahara Solar Plant provides much of the electricity of Europe and Africa, China gets a quarter of its energy from its solar arrays in the Gobi desert, Australia has large plants in its various deserts and the USA has installed large arrays in Arizona and Nevada.
The introduction of commercial fusion reactors in 2050 provided a further blow to coal power. Both solar and fusion power ae attractive for many nations, because it reduce their dependence of foreign supply of energy. Fusion fuel is mainly extracted from sea water, while silicium is widely available in most countries.
Environmental concerns are a further reason for growing opposition of coal power. Besides the emission of carbon-dioxide, coal-fired plants exhaust various poisonous gasses and are the major producers of radio-active waste. Until recently the radio-active waste of coal-fired station was classified as natural radio-activity, but new international rules require that this waste should be treated the same as that of nuclear fission reactors.
Over the last decade thousands of coal-fired stations have been closed, while a few have been adapted for burning bio-mass. The owners of the last coal-fired power plant are considering whether they will use this plant for bio-mass. Otherwise they are required to dismantle the power station.