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Powering the Dream by Alexis Madrigal

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chapter 21
Google’s RE < C Challenge
COAL IS A FLAMMABLE ROCK. You can put it in a pail and carry it to your house. Or you can pack it into one hundred cargo containers and load it onto a train. It’s plentiful and spread pretty evenly around the world. Take a pound of it. Burn it completely and you would generate ten thousand British thermal units (BTUs) of heat. Dirty and heavy, coal has exactly one thing going for it: price. “The problem however is that for much of the world, coal remains both a cheap and portable (and storable) source of energy,” energy analyst Gregor Macdonald wrote in 2009. “In fact, coal has a nasty habit of pricing itself just below nearly all other energy sources. This is why I’ve called coal a kind of anti-hero.” ...

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