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Peat is a neglected and viable energy resource for the Atlantic coastal states. Russia, Finland, and Ireland are now producing electricity from peat-fired plants. The coastal states have peat deposits that could be used for the production of energy on a variety of scales. In North Carolina plans are underway for the construction of a 120-MW electrical plant and for the mining of peat to be used as fuel for local industries.
The coastal states probably have about 5 billion tons of moisture-free peat representing about 100 quads of energy. The U.S. Department of Energy has a program that is currently reevaluating the peat resources of the country.
In the coastal states peat has accumulated in the past 10,000 years in swampy depressions of a variety of origins: (1) depressions associated with glaciation, (2) depressions on the younger coastal terraces, (3) stream backswamps, (4) Carolina bays, and (5) tidal marshes. The largest and purest deposits are in the coastal terrace swamps in the Everglades of Florida, the Okefenokee Swamp of Georgia, the Albemarle-Pamlico swamps of North Carolina, and the Dismal Swamp of North Carolina and Virginia; but all coastal states have some deposits.
A typical, high-quality southern peat is highly decomposed and contains 85 to 90% water, 5% ash, 0.2% sulfur, and 10,000 Btu/lb on a moisture-free basis. The northern peats are more fibrous and have a slightly lower heating value.
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