As a member of Canada's Energy BOT Squad here's what you need to know.
Iím super grounded. Extracting me is an important part of assembling the squad: Iím not just a powerful bot, Iím the oldest member. Canadians have been mining coal since 1685, which means that Iíve got no shortage of things to talk aboutÖ which is a bit of a mixed blessing.
If you let me, Iíll tell you about the glory days when coal was used for everything: transportation, home heating and punishing naughty children at Christmas. Nowadays, though, Iím primarily used to generate electricity.
Coal-powered engines are a thing of the past. Sorry CoalBOT. The trains that used to be powered by coal-fired steam engines now run on diesel. But those trains continue to transport coal Ė the single largest commodity carried by Canadian railways.
I am still responsible for about 12 per cent of the countryís electricity generation, but I know my days are numbered. Ontario is phasing out its coal generation facilities, and other coal facilities around the country will be retired by 2025.
Consider that coal is still largely shipped by train, and if the countryís coal reserves were all taken out of the ground, theyíd weigh more than 15 million freight locomotives. Heavy stuff.
There are coal mines in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, which are enough to keep me powered up for a while. Alberta relies most heavily on coal-fired electricity, followed by Saskatchewan.
How does it work?
Getting me out of the groundís a simple proposition in theory: digging. And Iím always a bit hot under the collar. Itís no surprise Ė I generate power by superheating water into steam to turn a generatorís turbines.
One of the most important uses for coal (beyond power generation) is steel. I can be baked into coke which is then used to smelt iron. Itís a noble pursuit for a bot, making steel.
Even if Iím not seeing as much work as I used to in Canada, coal is still the largest source of electricity in the world.
Next: Your next assignment: NuclearBOT. Hereís what we already know: You donít need to be super to live on a cape. Thatís the Point.