Sulphur and Coal
AUTHOR: Jan L. Vernon and Tim Jones
DATE: March 1993
Emissions of sulphur dioxide (B02) from combustion of coal and other fossil fuels have caused increasing concern because of their potential impacts on human health and the environment. The introduction of legislation limiting S02 emissions from coal began in earnest in the 1970s but has expanded rapidly over the last 10 years and now applies throughout OECD countries and increasingly elsewhere.
A range of options is available to reduce SO2 emissions, including switching to lower-sulphur fuels; coal cleaning to remove sulphur; using combustion technology which limit the generation of SO2 and flue gas desulphurisation. These options are at different stages of development and achieve different degrees of sulphur removal. The optimum S02 removal approach will depend upon a range of legislative, technical and economic factors which are highly plant specific. Control of sulphur emissions, particularly from older plants, is likely to lead to an increase in costs. This has potential implications for the future market for coal compared with other fuels and also for the relative prices of different coals.