|5 pounds of coal--|
two hours of electricity per person
I wanted to make a table display, an un-powerpoint visual to take when I’m speaking, a reminder that what flows invisibly from the wall as electricity begins as burning rocks. I recalled that the basement of an old house where I once lived in Georgia still had a large pile of coal. A friend lives there now, so on a recent visit he let me excavate and carry a few pounds home.
I had looked up the figures here. In coal-dependent Indiana,1133.312 tons of coal are burned for electricity per year for every 100 people. So I did the math and put it in chapter 3, page 40: 62 pounds per person per day of coal, an astounding figure.
I rechecked it. How could 62 pounds of coal mined, transported, ground into powder, burned to boil water into steam to power turbines, and then disposed of as coal ash every day—and this is a bare simplification of the process’s many steps—how can all that cost so little?