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A Simple Argument for Solar Power vs Coal Power

Avatar for Tor "Solar Fred" Valenza
Published on 11/20/2009 in
Updated 12/18/2015


Be honest. If you were this little stinker here….

And you could choose your power source for the next 80 years of your precious life…

Hmm…. Energy.               Photo:Flickr/TedsBlog

Which would make you plotz in your diapers thinking about the world’s future air quality?…


Minnesota Coal Fired Power Plant Photo:Flickr/heyyu1021

…or Solar?


Photo: From Solar Fred

Please get a quote in your area and see if solar is affordable for you. Solar quotes are always free, so unlike the coal and oil lobby… couldn’t hurt.

Last modified: December 18, 2015

7 thoughts on “A Simple Argument for Solar Power vs Coal Power

  1. Avatar for Download Annalise Download Annalise says:

    At least 4 or 5 hundred visitors at your weblog now, nice results for single website.

  2. Avatar for Jay Turberville Jay Turberville says:

    Advocacy is no excuse for emotion based arguments and distortions. In fact, the desire to advocate is a very good reason not to engage in that kind of argument. This page may present a simple argument, but it doesn’t present a good one.

    1. Avatar for Tor a.k.a. "Solar Fred" Tor a.k.a. "Solar Fred" says:

      Jay, thanks for commenting, but I disagree.

      There’s so much information, we need simple arguments, and despite the photo (and this long string of comments regarding it) coal pollutes and poisons the air. Solar does not. Even “clean coal” will still put mercury and other poisons in the air for us and our children to breathe. Solar also doesn’t rape mountains of trees and wildlife like mountain top removal, and it doesn’t produce an endless supply of poisonous sludge that can decimate an entire community with an accident.

      Pictures are said to speak a 1000 words, and I think these sum up a lot about coal energy and about solar. Thanks for your thoughts, and I hope you support solar fr other reasons beyond the ones in this the post. (Energy independence, perhaps?)

  3. Avatar for 3phase 3phase says:

    If I hear an oppinion that is blatenly biased and one sided the weight of that oppinion means less to me than an objective well balanced argument. I thought the same thing as Joe even before reading his comment.

    As for the steam… The stacks with steam ejected from the top are cleaner than those without. (smoke stakes not cooling towers) The hot flume gas from the boiler mixes with a lime slurry to chemically react with the SO2 to create an inert substance and thereby clean emmissions. The water vapor is from the lime slurry being heated by the hot flue gas off the combustion chamber. Therefore no steam – no SO2 scrubber units. To make it even more simple… Steam = less SO2. (ps. I’m a Power Electical Engineer in Fossil Generatrion for an electric company.. ie. I make coal and gas powerplants cleaner)

  4. Avatar for Christof Christof says:

    I disagree that the pictures decrease the web site’s credibility. This is an advocacy web site — much like my own web site.

    While advocacy web sites ought to be committed to accurate and truthful accounts of that for which they advocate, in this case solar (and SolarPowerRocks.Com, clearly is commited to this), they are not required to be USA Today, CNN, etc.

    In fact, grassroots advocacy web sites exist in large part because the so-called “objective” mainstream media’s coverage is clearly tilted toward large corporations, and powerful industries such as the coal industry.

    Study after study in media studies — I’m a media studies scholar — has shown the bias of big media outlets toward the status quo and powerful and elite sources and points of view.

    In fact, “objectivity” itself is largely to blame. “Objectivity” in the context of USA Today, CNN and other “balanced” sources basically acts as a cover for mainstream ideology. Voices considered to be outside the mainstream don’t get heard very much, and if they do, they’re typically marginalized, including the voices of solar-power advocates (though this is changing as solar slowly goes mainstream).

    So, basically, I think SolarPowerRocks.Com is doing a great job of what it sets out to do — advocacy for solar in an informative, knowledgeable fashion. It’s not required to go out a get “the other side” from the coal industry.

    The coal industry has hundreds of millions of dollars to do its own PR and greenwashing. Advocacy sites certainly don’t need to help boost already outrageously powerful industries and groups by bogging themselves down in mainstream notions of “objectivity” — notions that are not objective, but which are themselves ideological.

    It’s the job of advocacy web sites and groups to undercut this power inequity — and that’s what, in my view, SolarPowerRocks is doing with these pictures, and with its web site in general.

  5. Avatar for Joe Gorberg Joe Gorberg says:

    I’m disappointed in your representation and comparison for the pictures between solar and coal. First off, I’m 100% supportive of solar generation. However, the plume in the coal picture is steam- water vapor from the cooling tower, not the “smoke stacks” emitting pollutants. You guys put out good information on solar. This kind of reporting just decreases your credibility.

    1. Avatar for Tor a.k.a. "Solar Fred" Tor a.k.a. "Solar Fred" says:

      Joe, you’re right, but I couldn’t find a dramatic photo that I could use with a creative commons license to show just the black stuff. Nevertheless, even this steam does environmental damage. According to Wikipedia, which I know can be inaccurate, but this seems well written and thoughtful: This is from “cooling tower.”

      “The circulation rate of cooling water in a typical 700 MW coal-fired power plant with a cooling tower amounts to about 71,600 cubic metres an hour (315,000 U.S. gallons per minute)[2] and the circulating water requires a supply water make-up rate of perhaps 5 percent (i.e., 3,600 cubic metres an hour).

      If that same plant had no cooling tower and used once-through cooling water, it would require about 100,000 cubic metres an hour [3] and that amount of water would have to be continuously returned to the ocean, lake or river from which it was obtained and continuously re-supplied to the plant. Furthermore, discharging large amounts of hot water may raise the temperature of the receiving river or lake to an unacceptable level for the local ecosystem. Elevated water temperatures can kill fish and other aquatic organisms. (See thermal pollution.) A cooling tower serves to dissipate the heat into the atmosphere instead and wind and air diffusion spreads the heat over a much larger area than hot water can distribute heat in a body of water. Some coal-fired and nuclear power plants located in coastal areas do make use of once-through ocean water. But even there, the offshore discharge water outlet requires very careful design to avoid environmental problems.”

      So even the cooling towers have an environmental impact. In contrast, solar photovoltaics like the solar farm above, uses no water at all except to occasionally clean the panels from dust. Furthermore, the photo may not show the exhaust of the mercury and other toxic chemicals, but as we all know, it’s there.

      I do appreciate your comments, though, and I understand your concern. Sometimes a picture is worth a 1000 words, but it’s not very specific. I’ve now used a few words for further explanation. Thanks again for reading, and especially for your support of solar.

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