Coal can be and has been changed to natural gas. Indeed, the early gas companies did that in the 19th century. The German's did in WW I. We have about 50 years of years of supplies of natural gas. We have about 300 years of supply of coal.
It is admittedly easier and presently cheaper to use natural gas or other hydrocarbons at this time.
Photovoltaics can convert water to hydrogen, but not efficiently at this time.
The future of fuel cells is likely to go long past the lifetime of anyone using this board.
Fuel cells are likely to be with us for a long time.
because wastes from THAT process (at that time 1880s to 1930s) WERE coal tar /dioxin precursors. Several hundred of these MGP (manufactured gas plant) sites in the US are Superfund sites. So this process must be done cleanly, if so, those ideas should work.