Coal is the most abundant fossil fuel in the world that has been used for thousands of years as a valuable natural resource. There are enough coal reserves worldwide to supply energy, at the current rate, for over 200 years. It is obvious that most of the world’s electricity requirements are met from coal.
Not only does coal provide electricity, it is also an essential fuel for steel and cement production, and other industrial activities.
Different types of coal have different uses.
· Steam coal - also known as thermal coal - is mainly used in power generation.
· Coking coal - also known as metallurgical coal - is mainly used in steel production.
The five largest coal users - China, USA, India, Japan and South Africa - account for 82% of total global coal use.
The biggest market for coal is Asia, which currently accounts for over 65% of global coal consumption; although China is responsible for a significant proportion of this. Many countries do not have natural energy resources sufficient to cover their energy needs, and therefore need to import energy to help meet their requirements.Japan, Chinese Taipei andKorea, for example, import significant quantities of steam coal for electricity generation and coking coal for steel production.
TheUShas approximately 24% of all the world’s known coal reserves. Almost 94% of the coal used in theUnited Statesis used for generating electricity. Except for a small amount of exports, the rest of the coal is used as a basic energy source in many industries including steel, cement, and paper.
Users of coal
Other important users of coal include alumina refineries, paper manufacturers, and the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Several chemical products can be produced from the by-products of coal. Refined coal tar is used in the manufacture of chemicals, such as creosote oil, naphthalene, phenol, and benzene. Ammonia gas recovered from coke ovens is used to manufacture ammonia salts, nitric acid and agricultural fertilisers. Thousands of different products have coal or coal by-products as components: soap, aspirins, solvents, dyes, plastics and fibres, such as rayon and nylon. Coal is also an essential ingredient in the production of specialist products
· There are enough coal reserves worldwide to supply energy, at the current rate, for over 200 years. It is obvious from this that coal is one of the potential energy substitutes.
· With demand for electricity expected to double by 2050 and renewable resources still years away from offsetting increased demand, it is clear that coal is here to stay.
· Efforts have been put forth for chemically washing minerals and impurities from the coal gasification, treating the flue gases with steam to remove sulfur dioxide, carbon capture and storage technologies to capture the carbon dioxide from the flue gas and coal de-watering technologies to improve the calorific quality and thus the efficiency of burning coal for energy.
· Advancements in coal energy industry include clean coal technologies, co-generation, waste coal usage and land reclamation.
- Limited supply (non-renewable resource)
- Older plants (without emissions filters) generate large amounts of pollution
- Generated smoke can cause health conditions such as emphysema
- Sulphurdioxide and nitrogen emissions can bind to water creating acid rain
- To dig up coal, we have to create mines which can be dangerous and not very nice to look at.
- Transporting coal by lorry and train from the mine to the power station causes pollution.
- Of all energy sources, burning coal releases the most greenhouse gases which may add to global warming
- Coal is a non-renewable source and will run out in about 100 years.
- Coal miners can be affected by black lung disease or pneumoconiosis and also emphysema if they breathe in too much of the coal dust.
- Clean Technology Verticals
- Energy Generation
- Solar Energy
- Wind Energy
- Hydro Energy
- Bio-based Energy
- Geothermal Energy
- Ocean Energy
- Hydrogen Energy
- Waste to Energy
- Clean Coal
- Natural Gas
- Nuclear Energy
- Energy Efficiency
- Energy Infrastructure and Carriers
- Energy Storage
- Air & Environment Management
- Water and Waste water Management
- Sustainable Materials
- Sustainability Production/Manufacturing
- Sustainable Agriculture
- Sustainable Transportation
- Recycling Waste Management
- Sustainable Life Style