With its ubiquitous supply, coal has been one of the most reliable and important energy sources in the world for many years. Its use as a primary energy source has been the subject of national and international debates in recent years, and despite the many benefits coal offers, it is not without its drawbacks. Aside from being a source of carbon emissions, it's also one of the dirtiest forms of energy, according to experts. Whatever the case, it's also a type of fossil fuel that provides 40 percent of the world's electricity. Let's discuss the pros and cons of coal power to better understand this mineral. Read this new blog on Linquip to learn more about it.
Positive and negative aspects of coal
Is coal an energy resource that we should still use as a primary fuel? The answer lies in the advantages and disadvantages of coal power for our modern world.
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Benefits of Charcoal
- Huge global reserves
- No intermittent power source
- reliable fuel
- cheap power source
- weather independent
- many uses
- Compatible with other power sources
- create jobs
- Reduce dependency on oil
- easy to store
- Smoke-free alternatives
- Convertible to different formats
- Minimal waste, consumable by-products
- Low capital investment
- Output is controllable
- comparatively safe
- Simple recording process
- Risks are easier to mitigate
Below are some of the benefits coal brings to any person or society that uses it.
Huge global reserves
Perhaps the most important advantage of coal is the vast global reserves. Conservative estimates put this value at around 1 billion tons. With consumption at the current rate, this reserve is enough to live another 200-400 years. Because of this, we don't have to worry about the consequences of burnout. Instead, we have all the peace of mind and security we need to make the most of resources while they last. 200-400 years is also enough time to prepare for alternatives before they are exhausted
No intermittent power source
Unlike solar, wind or hydroelectric power, coal is a permanent source of energy. It is never affected by snow like hydroelectric power; It is also not affected by darkness like sun. Also because you can use it anywhere, anytime, it suffers less from seasonal fluctuations than wind power. All of this combines to make your experience healthy and fairly reliable. This fuel source is also great for use in any industry or situation where there should be a reliable flow of heat or electricity. The automotive and manufacturing industries are the ones that depend heavily on them.
Compared to solar or wind power, coal is a reliable, predictable and dependable fuel. While it may not be at the forefront of domestic power generation, it can provide an invaluable backup service and extremely reliable fuel.
cheap power source
It is cheaper to use charcoal compared to other leading alternatives. This is also reflected in the amount of electricity that coal generates. It's a matter of a few cents per kilowatt hour. What counts in the end is how affordable the electricity is. If your main concern is the economy, then you have no better partner than coal. Because coal is cheaper, the cost of electricity generated by coal is also cheaper than coal and other alternative energy sources.
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Coal mining can only be stopped if the site is declared hazardous or inoperable. But if it were just raining or strong winds, the jobs would go on and the power plants would keep running. This means a continuous power supply. If residential and commercial businesses depended on wind turbines, solar panels, or hydroelectric sources, the availability of electricity would depend on existing weather conditions.
Coal is very versatile, not just for power generation. Even its by-products have amazing uses. For example, refined coal tar is used to make phenol, creosote oil, naphthalene, and other chemicals. Aspirin, soap, dyes and fabrics also use carbon by-products. The charcoal itself is also used in specialty products, including activated charcoal, which is used to make water filters, air purifiers, and kidney dialysis machines. Carbon fiber and silicon metal also use carbon as an essential component. Anyone who knows the purpose of such materials knows the important role carbon plays. Shampoos and toothpaste wouldn't be the same without them.
Compatible with other power sources
This fuel source also has the added benefit of being compatible with other energy sources. For example, they could integrate biomass technology into coal-fired power plants. There are many advantages with this combination. This includes reduced CO2 emissions, reliable long-term energy production and long-term increased economic performance. Even if the coal eventually runs out, it is possible to use the same plants at any time to supply the same population with other energy sources.
The coal industry is generally labor intensive. That means it requires a large number of people to implement and update it. It contrasts with other energy sources such as hydroelectric and nuclear power, which are capital intensive. This has some advantages. It creates a variety of employment opportunities in the area or jurisdiction you wish to take advantage of. Employees who will benefit from this ecosystem include truckers, miners, shippers, cleaners and power plant operators. Therefore, its use is very beneficial for a whole society where technology and heat sources are heavily used.
Reduce dependency on oil
Energy security can only be achieved if we invest in cleaner fuels and greater efficiencies in energy security, which can be achieved by reducing dependence on foreign oil, a reality seen as a national security risk given that it comes from countries with unstable political regimes originates. But the best solution would be the energy independence that coal can offer, especially now that electric cars are becoming more popular. Since they only need to be charged, dependency on foreign oil can be reduced by a third by 2025.
easy to store
Recently, some technological advances have improved storage and reduced emissions. The secure recording and storage technology in particular stands out. With better storage comes the added benefit of reducing potential global warming. In this way, those fears that many fear are effectively reduced. Therefore, the atmosphere is unlikely to be greatly damaged by use. Charcoal's storability gives you the advantage of being able to pack it up when it's plentiful and use it at a later date.
You may be discouraged by the environmental impact of charcoal, or you may not be able to burn charcoal because you are in a smoke control zone. Luckily, there are smokeless charcoal alternatives that offer fantastic heating performance in a much cleaner way. Alternatives are smokeless coals and natural anthracite.
Convertible to different formats
You can convert charcoal into different formats. These include the gaseous and the liquid state. In addition, it is also possible for you to use it in its raw form. This means you can get a higher level of comfort. You decide how you feel comfortable and go! Another benefit closely related to this is the fact that you can package the coal and transport it to a remote location for use. This is not possible with hydropower, for example. This makes the charcoal good for long distance use and application.
Minimal waste, consumable by-products
Compared to other forms of energy, coal generates minimal waste and therefore tends to have a high form factor. Apart from the smoke that is produced by the coal, there is almost no other waste. This is largely possible thanks to efficient infrastructure and combustion technologies. As we explained above, it is possible to use the by-products of burning coal to create other products that can be used elsewhere. Minimal waste means better value for money and more security. It also bodes well for those around you.
Low capital investment
Many existing fuel and power generation technologies are already optimized for the use of coal. So you don't have to invest too much of your money to get started. However, the case is completely different from nuclear power and other renewable energy sources. This is good news as it means limited spending on your part. That means you don't have to dig too deep to get the benefits that usually come with it. This also means that the energy costs generated are cheaper.
Output is controllable
For coal you can control the outputs. You can vary the heat output to keep up with demand and vice versa. The same cannot be said of other forms of energy. You cannot vary the production rate of hydro, solar, or wind power. If you use them, you are at their mercy and get the highest performance. Being able to determine performance also means that you control the production process. At the same time, you have the opportunity to determine the cost aspects of the production run as a whole.
Like any other energy source, coal also has its fair share of potential downsides. However, it is comparatively safer than competing alternatives such as nuclear power. This is mainly because charcoal itself does limited damage. Adding to this certainty is the fact that the welfare of coal plant workers has improved dramatically over the years. Safety gear was manufactured and adopted for use by miners and other stakeholders in the coal industry. This has gone a long way towards mitigating the risks that usually occur.
Simple recording process
Generating heat from coal is easier than, for example, generating electricity from hydroelectric or nuclear power. All you have to do is place the charcoal in a reaction chamber and there you have it! Therefore, it is a faster and more convenient way to generate electrical power. On the same note, you don't need to have much experience to tackle it. This means that companies that manage coal and use it to generate electricity have a greater economic advantage. With that comes the added benefit of reduced energy costs that come with coal.
Risks are easier to mitigate
In the unlikely event of an emergency, these side effects are easier to mitigate compared to nuclear or hydroelectric power. Nuclear explosions put too much strain on the people involved and the environment in general. The same applies to a situation where hydroelectric power plants collapse under the weight of the retained water. The lower cost of mitigating these effects means that using charcoal generally results in greater safety during use. At the same time, it is also a cheaper and more affordable option to drive. So you don't have to worry too much if you decide to work with charcoal.
Disadvantages of Charcoal
- Non-renewable energy source
- Ecological damage
- Destroy natural habitats
- Impact of coal mining
- Impact on miners' health
- Potentially radioactive
- Displaces human settlements
There are disadvantages to using coal as an energy source. The following are disadvantages of coal power.
Non-renewable energy source
Coal, while plentiful, is unfortunately not a renewable energy source. That means it will cease to exist or matter as soon as the last drop is gone. In the absence of a viable backup plan, its disuse can cause inconvenience to industries and facilities that currently rely heavily on electricity and heating. This can affect the economic production of the affected areas. Repurposing the facilities that currently rely on them to accept other forms of energy may never really be a walk in the park. Even if you do this, you may incur high costs.
CO2 emissions from burning coal also account for another 65% of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and contribute to greenhouse gases. For everyone, this means climate change and global warming. The pollution it causes has also led to acid rain in some areas. Although there are many causes of acid rain, burning coal is a major contributor as it releases sulfur dioxide and acid rain contains more than normal levels of sulfuric and nitric acids.
Destroy natural habitats
Keep in mind that coal seams are surrounded by plants, rivers and other natural landscapes and digging for coal would mean destroying forested areas that serve as habitat for wildlife. When coal is mined for heating and industrial use, habitats for plants and animals are inevitably destroyed. There is no doubt that the ecosystem and biodiversity would take a hit. The process also leads to pollution of water, soil and air, i.e. acid rain. Noise from large mining machinery can also harm local wildlife. Similarly, many groundwater sources are also at risk. The situation is exacerbated by fires, which are more likely to break out during coal mining. This can cause extreme damage to nearby infrastructure. It also disrupts the harmony that exists as an affected area. Some species are also lost in the process. Although the landscape can be restored after land abandonment and mining has ended, it may never return to its original pristine state. If you do this, it may take quite a while for you to do so. However, according to the World Coal Institute, newer coal-fired power plants now emit 40% less CO2. However, this does not mean that all the damage caused by the older systems has been repaired.
Impact of coal mining
Transporting coal would require an extensive transportation system that would likely traverse mountains, valleys, etc. Building such infrastructure would not only destroy the landscape but also increase pollution from emissions from various vehicles.
Impact on miners' health
Direct and prolonged contact with activated carbon is life-threatening. This is especially true when there is direct exposure to concentrated carbon dioxide emitted as a by-product in the production chain. Some of the causes of death related to coal are problems like premature death, asphyxiation, asthma, pneumonia, lung cancer and lack of oxygen. Many people also suffer from fatigue and lack of sleep. Therefore, its benefits can be outweighed by the adverse side effects that usually accompany continued use and dependence on the energy source.
Aside from copious amounts of carbon dioxide, coal also produces sufficient amounts of outward radiation. These radiations are carcinogenic because they cause cancer and cell mutations. It has been found that many people who work or live near coal-fired power plants suffer from asthma, lung cancer and other forms of radiation-related diseases. A good number have also noticed some disorders and complications. While these effects pale in comparison to nuclear power, they are devastating and must be managed with absolute caution. The use of safety gear is one way to achieve this desirable goal.
Displaces human settlements
If coal is discovered in areas already inhabited by humans, mining such deposits may later render the area inhospitable to humans. Such extraction is at the expense of the environment from which the coal is mined. Although the environment can be restored later, this may never happen. Such damage usually causes incalculable economic side effects. Above all, this means that those affected have to move to other areas. So the houses that existed before the destruction must somehow be compensated.
We cannot deny that the use of coal energy is very important to us. We all want an affordable and reliable source of energy that we can only get by using coal power. We must consider all the facts about the pros and cons of coal power. Although the use of coal power is very important to us and life would be impossible without it, we must always be open to the damage that continued use of coal power will eventually bring to us and our environment.
So there you have all the facts about the positives and negatives of charcoal. If you enjoyed this article about Linquip, please let us know by leaving a reply in the comment section. Is there a question we can help you with? Don't hesitateRegistrationon our website to get the most professional advice from our experts.
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❖ Coal is plentiful in many places and it is easy to access through mining, so people rely on it to produce energy. ❖ Coal is easy to store. Once it is mined it can be safely stored with no hazard of fire or explosion like there is with gas or oil. ❖ It is relatively easy and inexpensive to convert coal into energy.What are 3 disadvantages of coal energy? ›
Air pollution from coal-fired power plants is linked with asthma, cancer, heart and lung ailments, neurological problems, acid rain, global warming, and other severe environmental and public health impacts.What is the future of coal power? ›
World energy consumption is growing. Reliable forecasts say total energy consumption will increase by around 60% in the next 20 years, and coal will still be the major source of power generation globally.Are there any benefits to coal power? ›
Coal-fired power plants provide affordable, reliable and constant power that is available on demand to meet energy consumption needs.What is the biggest advantage of coal? ›
It's a reliable fuel — compared to solar power or wind energy, coal is a reliable, predictable and dependable fuel. While it may not be at the forefront of national energy production, it can provide in invaluable backup service, and a highly reliable fuel for house stoves.What is the biggest problem with coal? ›
Air pollution from coal-fired power plants is linked with asthma, cancer, heart and lung ailments, neurological problems, acid rain, global warming, and other severe environmental and public health impacts.What are three major problems resulting from the use of coal? ›
What are three major problems resulting from the use of coal? Pollution, caused by emissions of contaminants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury, which affects human and environmental health. Greenhouse gases, emissions of which contribute to global warming.What is the problem with coal energy? ›
No matter how you label it, coal is always polluting. In fact, it is the most polluting way to produce electricity. When coal is dug up and later burned in power stations, it releases massive amounts of pollution, damaging our health and contributing to intensifying climate change.What is the future of coal 2022? ›
Global coal use is set to rise by 1.2% in 2022, surpassing 8 billion tonnes in a single year for the first time and eclipsing the previous record set in 2013, according to Coal 2022, the IEA's latest annual market report on the sector.What is the future of coal in USA? ›
U.S. coal production in the forecast increases by 20 million short tons (MMst) in 2022 to total 598 MMst for the year. We expect coal production will fall to 581 MMst in 2023.
“Coal markets have been shaken severely in 2022, with traditional trade flows disrupted, prices soaring and demand set to grow by 1.2%, reaching an all-time high and surpassing 8 billion metric tons for the first time,” the IEA said in its Coal 2022 report, published Dec.What are 10 advantages of coal? ›
- It is available in an abundant supply. ...
- It has a high load factor. ...
- Coal offers a rather low capital investment. ...
- Carbon capture and storage technologies can reduce potential emissions. ...
- It can be converted into different formats. ...
- Coal can be used with renewables to reduce emissions.
- Pro – Low carbon. Unlike traditional fossil fuels like coal, nuclear power does not produce greenhouse gas emissions like methane and CO2. ...
- Con – If it goes wrong… ...
- Pro – Not intermittent. ...
- Con – Nuclear waste. ...
- Pro – Cheap to run. ...
- Con – Expensive to build.
- Total demand for U.S. coal reached 1.05 billion tons in 2010.
- 33% of U.S. electricity is generated from coal.
- 9 out of every 10 tons of coal mined each year in the U.S. is used for domestic electricity generation.
- Each person in the U.S. uses 3.4 tons of coal annually.