Advantages of Coal
Some people think that coal is “old-school” as an energy source. In fact, coal is still the most abundant and widely used energy source in the world and since 2000 the use of coal has grown faster than the usage of any other fuel. Almost half of the electricity generated in America is created by coal. The advantages of coal as an energy source begin with the simple fact that it is abundant and thus, inexpensive. Estimates reveal that there are 930 billion short tons of recoverable coal reserves I the world which are equal to around 4,116 billion barrels of oil equivalent. Assuming there are no new discoveries of coal, the present amount of coal will last at least another 137 years at the present levels of consumption.
China is the world’s leading producer of coal. The United States and India are the next largest producers of coal in the world. China, India, and the United States account for 68 percent of the world’s current coal production. Asia alone accounts for more than half of the world’s coal consumption. Many countries find that they do not have sufficient sources of energy within their borders so they must have energy sources imported. Coal as it turns out is the most cost-effective energy resource to import because it is easy to transport, abundant and inexpensive.
Coal is not only abundant, it is also easy to use. Coal does not require the cost and labor intensive refining processes that natural gas and oil must undergo before usage. The nature of coal as a solid also makes it easier and safer to transport than other energy sources. Coal can be easily stored and readily available in a time of need. Coal can be used in several different ways as well. You can use coal to cook a filet mignon or you can use coal to power a turbine that creates electricity for thousands of people. Coal is a safer source of energy than other fossil fuels like oil. You have probably never heard of a deadly coal spill for instance, whereas the BP oil spill of last summer had a huge effect on the wildlife, surrounding ecosystem, and in turn the surrounding human population who depended on the marine life for sustenance.
There are many adversaries of coal usage who purport that the advantages of coal are nullified due to the disadvantages of coal and its impact on the environment. It is said that coal mining causes water pollution, soil erosion, dust and causes undue harm to the ozone layer which is said to lead to global warming. Coal mining and refining technologies today though have mostly eliminated the negative impacts that coal once called. Coal emissions are still a concern and countries must be conscious of the environmental impact of burning steam coal with a mind of progressing technology to the point that coal emissions are no longer a hindrance to progress.