Coal energy is a type of energy that cannot be recreated, that is, it is a non-renewable energy. Coal energy became the focal point of Industrial Revolution during the 17th century. Coal was the foundation of evolution from organic economy to an economy hungry for mineral resources. Coal became the chief source of energy for industries and households in equal measure. With the fact that it was easy to find and the cost was low, no one felt the need to think or look for its alternatives.
But now in the twenty first century, the human race is conversant with the hazards of Global Warming, reducing mineral resources and need to reduce carbon emissions. Although coal is still a very prominent energy source that is used around the world, policy makers and researchers have started looking for alternatives.
There are a lot of benefits and demerits associated with coal. Below are some benefits and disadvantages of using coal as a source of energy;
BENEFITS OF COAL ENERGY
- Stable and Affordable Prices – Unlike any other energy resources, coal, till date, is still the cheapest mineral. Its prices in the open market remains stable – more or less- than any other mineral, therefore, using it is a less volatile proposition for industries.
- Availability and Ease of Transportation – There are coal reserves available in most countries around the world. Industries that use up a lot of energy get what they want even if their industry is located far away from the site where the coal is being mined.
- Easy to Burn – There is a high calorific value on coal. This calorific value makes it possible to get a whole lot of energy just by burning a little quantity of coal as compared to other mineral resources.
- Easily Scalable – You can have a huge 20,000MW thermal plant as well as something like a 200MW plant. It is very easy to make coal plants of different sizes for the generation of power.
- Associated With No Politics – Unlike crude oil, there are coal reserves available in all continents, therefore, you don’t have administrations like OPEC dictating terms dealing with the production of coal.
- Low Capital Investment Required – Unlike solar energy or wind energy generation facilities, extracting coal and coal mines are really cheaper alternatives.
- No Dependence on Climatic Conditions – Unlike hydro-energy, solar, or wind energy, one is not the existing climatic condition for the mining of coal.
- Gasification and liquidation of coal are cleaner alternatives, compared to solid coal.
- Safer Than Nuclear Energy – Although nuclear energy is being considered as an alternative to coal energy, the safety precautions that are needed to be used when operating a coal plant are less rigorous compared to when operating nuclear plants.
DISADVANTAGES OF COAL ENERGY
- Habitat and Deforestation Erosion – Habitats of wildlife animals and forest lands are ruined by the digging of coal mines. The ecosystem and biodiversity of the area takes a beating.
- Dangerous Mining Conditions – It’s no news that working in a coal mine can be very dangerous. As a matter of fact, they are considered to be one of the worst places to work in. Threats of high temperatures and explosions make coal mines a really hard place to work. Both well-developed and developing countries have recorded deaths in this places.
- Carbon Emission – Coal plants are known to emit high rate of carbon, which in turn have a negative impact on the environment. Areas around a coal plant become inhabitable due to the emissions of dangerous gases like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, etc.
- It is a Non-renewable Source – Coal might be currently available around the world, but truth is, coal deposits are going down fast and the future generation won’t be able to rely on it alone.
- Mining Process Leads to Pollution – Without considering biodiversity, mining of coal also leads to air, water, and soil pollution.