From One Energy Source to the Next

 

Energy is everywhere! It can be found in the ground (coal and natural gas), it can be found in the sky (wind and solar power), and it can be found in water (hydroelectric power). In Glenrock, Wyoming, scientists found two energy sources in one place.

In the 1950s, the Dave Johnston Mine was built to mine coal. There was a lot of coal to mine there, too—over 104 million tons of it! It took more than 40 years to get all of that coal out of the ground.

In this part of Wyoming, the weather can change a lot. It can get to below-zero temperatures in the winter, and then go all the way up to 90 degrees in the summer. It is very windy every day, but it hardly ever rains or snows. They only get 10 inches of precipitation a year, on average.

With such little water, it was hard for plants and animals to live there. After the Dave Johnston Mine closed, though, the coal company wanted to create a home for wildlife. But how could they make that happen?

Land Reclamation

For the coal industry, land reclamation means protecting, restoring, and improving the land that used to be a coal mine. It is one way the coal industry helps the environment. The Dave Johnston Mine won the 2012 Excellence in Surface Coal Mining National Award because they did such a good job reclaiming the land.

What did they do to get that award? They created man-made springs by using water from below ground and collecting it in big tanks. That new water attracted many animals to the area, including mule deer, antelope, grouse, and birds of prey. The water also makes it possible for new plants to grow there. The plants provide food and shelter for these animals.

What about that second source of energy? Well, once the reclamation process was done, some of the land was set aside for a wind turbine farm. Remember, this part of Wyoming is windy every day! That makes it the perfect place to have wind turbines. Those turbines spin and create energy, just like the coal mined there created energy. Both wind and coal are sources of electricity, which we use to power our lights, TVs, computers, and more!