543 Coal

The following factors have a negative impact on the selection of coal as a fuel:

1. Environmental limitations which necessitate the installation of expensive equipment to control particulates, SO2, and NOx. These requirements, when combined with the low price of oil and gas in the late 1960s and early 1970s, forced many existing industrial and utility coal-fired units to convert to oil or gas. And new units typically were designed with no coal capability at all.

2. Significantly higher capital investments, not only for pollution abatement but also for coal-receiving equipment; raw-coal storage; coal preparation (crushing, conveying, pulverizing, etc.): prepared-coal storage; and ash handling.

3. Space requirements for equipment and coal storage.

4. Higher maintenance costs associated with the installation of more equipment.

5. Concern over uninterrupted availability of coal resulting from strikes.

6. Increasing transportation costs.

The use of coal is likely to escalate even in light of the foregoing factors, owing primarily to its relatively secure availability both on a short-term and long-term basis, and its lower cost. The substantial operating cost savings at current fuel prices of coal over oil or gas can economically justify a great portion (if not all) of the significantly higher capital investments required for coal. In addition, most predictions of future fuel costs indicate that oil and gas costs will escalate much faster than coal.

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