Why We May See an Increased Use of Illinois Coal

Springfield — For some, coal is the environmental boogie man, damaging the air and the planet. It’s frequently the target of those condemning the use of fossil fuels. And yet, coal remains the primary energy source for producing electricity around the world. In Illinois – we sit on top of a coal basin that is said could meet Americas energy needs for the next 200 years.

Yet much of Illinois coal is not even used by Illinois electric producers — because despite having a higher BTU than western coal — Illinois coal is higher in sulfur than coal from Wyoming. It’s why Illinois power producers largely purchase their coal from out of state, so that their coal-fired plants remain in compliance with Federal regulations under the Clean Air Act.

Now — a new technology developed by the Chinese may change the future use of Illinois coal — allowing for it to be used AND allow coal-fired plants to stay in compliance, without having to purchase expensive “scrubbers” to remove the sulfur dioxide. We speak with Phil Gonet of the Illinois Coal Association, to learn more about this technology – but first, get a basic primer on what scrubbers are and how they work to remove pollutants from coal stacks.