A CENTURY from now, maybe sooner, it’s unlikely we’ll be using coal to make electricity. Or not much of it.
Wind and solar are getting cheaper and they are easier to set up than building a power station that runs on heat, be it from coal, wood, rubbish or anything else.
The problem is that we’re not there yet. Solar doesn’t work at night, the output slips in cloudy weather, and turbines stand idle when the wind doesn’t blow. Even hydro has its limits when rainfall is low and dams don’t fill high enough to drive the turbines. Batteries are getting better at storing energy, but we need baseload power – and lots of it – to run a city such as Chicago or Cape Town.