Coal Plant, 1:54

Exploring the alien landscape of a coal storage facility.

Between 1930 and 1970, it was common to heat homes with coal. The coal would be delivered directly to one’s house and used in a coal furnace. Since the rise of natural gas, however, coal heating has decreased almost completely. Citizens no longer have to interact and understand the dirty physical qualities of coal and it is kept far away from urban centers where the majority have to deal with it. Because of this, it is easy to apply the “out of sight, out of mind” mantra to coal and pretend it comes without consequences.


To further this notion, the coal industry has come up with the idea of Clean Coal. According to U.S. Senate Bill 911, "The term clean coal technology means any technology...deployed at a new or existing facility which will achieve significant reductions in air emissions of sulfur dioxide or oxides of nitrogen associated with the utilization of coal in the generation of electricity." Although steps have been taken to reduce toxic air emissions, the term Clean Coal is strategically used by the coal industry to put the public’s mind at ease about every step of the coal energy production process. Although Clean Coal plants may have fewer emissions than others, the coal production process requires carbon pollution at every step of the way, regardless of whether it is Clean or not. From mining, to transportation, to energy production at coal plants, all coal processes produce CO2 and other toxic emissions. To add insult to injury, most coal plants only make use of 30% of the energy that is created during the coal burning process; the rest escaping in the form of heat loss.

The objective of the Clean Coal project is to bring awareness to the issues of coal usage and how our perceptions of coal are formed through the media and lack of education. Clean Coal urges the general public to question the reality behind coal energy production. By putting coal into the spotlight and literally putting coal into the hands of people who indirectly use it, the project works to help people understand the dangers, wastefulness, and outright ignorance of burning coal for energy. The sooner we all can make changes, as a community, towards renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar that are so logically plentiful, the sooner we can feel more comfortable about an energy future that does not require fossil fuels.