Public attitudes to new coal-fired plant
AUTHOR: Rohan Fernando
DATE: October 2006
Though coal remains the world’s most abundant, safe and secure form of energy, the public’s perception of coal-fired power plant is not always favourable. Much of the environmental concerns regarding coal-fired plant focus on emissions such as SO2 and NOx emissions, mercury emissions, particulates and ash disposal. However, the greatest concerns are those relating to CO2 emissions leading to the greenhouse effect. Public attitudes to coal-fired power plant or indeed any source of energy are important in shaping government policies. Such attitudes are also important in determining whether new coal projects can proceed. This report describes the public’s attitudes towards coal-fired power plant in several countries in the developed and developing world. It principally collates opinion poll data available on energy, environment and the use of coal for power generation. It also reports what local, national or international organisations say about coal-fired plant.
The report also examines what information is available to the public from the industry itself. The report investigates what the general public and concerned organisations say should be done to reduce the greenhouse effect. It addresses whether some types of coal-fired plant have a greater degree of acceptability than others. The report surveys how arguments in favour and against the use of coal vary in different countries. The report concludes that even though the proponents of coal-fired plant emphasise issues such as availability, security of supply, cost and reductions in major pollutants, the concerns regarding global warming are so overwhelming that widespread public acceptance is unlikely to be achieved until technologies are available to enable a large-scale, economically-viable, coal plant to operate with low CO2 emissions.