In a coal power plant:
The process outlined above is adapted from Duke Energy ("How Energy Works"). Coal plant emissions and performance are also impacted by the kind of coal (coal rank) that the plant burns. Lignite, subbituminous, bituminous, and anthracite coal all are of varying quality. The amount of moisture, sulfur, and ash in a particular type of coal can have significant influence on coal plant operation, design, and cost.
Renewable energy technical potential, as defined by Lopez et al. 2012, represents the achievable energy generation of a particular technology given system performance, topographic limitations, and environmental and land-use constraints. Technical resource potential corresponds most closely to fossil reserves, as both can be characterized by the prospect of commercial feasibility and depend strongly on available technology at the time of the resource assessment. Coal reserves in the United States are assessed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS, "Coal Assessments").
Lopez, Anthony, Billy Roberts, Donna Heimiller, Nate Blair, and Gian Porro. 2012. U.S. Renewable Energy Technical Potentials: A GIS-Based Analysis. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. NREL/TP-6A20-51946. http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy12osti/51946.pdf.