We'll start by figuring out how much energy in kilowatthours the light bulb uses per year. We multiply how much power it uses in kilowatts, by the number of hours in a year. That gives 0.1 kW x 8,760 hours or 876 kWh.
The thermal energy content of coal is 6,150 kWh/ton. Although coal fired power generators are very efficient, they are still limited by the laws of thermodynamics. Only about 40 percent of the thermal energy in coal is converted to electricity. So the electricity generated per ton of coal is 0.4 x 6,150 kWh or 2,460 kWh/ton.
Learn More

To find out how many tons of coal were burned for our light bulb we divide 876 kWh by 2,460 kWh/ton. That equals 0.357 tons. Multiplying by 2,000 pounds/ton we get 714 pounds (325 kg) of coal. That is a pretty big pile of coal, but let's look at what else was produced to power that light bulb.
A typical 500 megawatt coal power plant produces 3.5 billion kWh per year. That is enough energy for 4 million of our light bulbs to operate year round. To produce this amount of electrical energy, the plant burns 1.43 million tons of coal. It also produces:
Sulfur Dioxide  Main cause of acid rain  10,000 Tons  5 pounds 
Nitrogen Oxides  Causes smog and acid rain  10,200 Tons  5.1 pounds 
Carbon Dioxide  Greenhouse gas suspected of causing global warming  3,700,000 Tons  1852 pounds 
It also produces smaller amounts of just about every element on the periodic table, including the radioactive ones. In fact, a coalburning power plant emits more radiation than a (properly functioning) nuclear power plant!
Here are some interesting links:
 How the Power Distribution Grid Works
 How Nuclear Power Works
 How Nuclear Radiation Works
 Coal Combustion Nuclear Resource or Danger
 If daytime running lights were mandatory in the US, and all vehicles had them, how much extra gasoline would that use each year?
Follow us
Facebook
YouTube
Twitter
Pinterest