As the world starts to shift towards renewable energy, coal must learn to address the issues pitted against the industry. The greatest issue coal faces is the harm it brings to the environment. However, it remains as the world’s biggest source of energy. Here are some of the reasons why:
Coal is the cheapest and most abundant source of energy. Unlike with natural gas or oil, there is very little chance of coal being scarce as it is plentiful all over the world. Coal reserves are estimated to be around a million tons and is expected to be available for consumption for the next 200 years.
Because of its low costs, coal has become the main energy source of developing countries like India and the Philippines. In 2015, India was the world’s third largest coal importer, with the majority of its energy demand being met by coal-fired power plants.
Despite it being known for being harmful to the environment, coal can be utilized with minimal damage using clean coal technology.
It also supplies 30 percent of the primary energy needs all over the world and accounts for nearly half of the generated electricity.
Coal has also proven itself to be versatile – having uses outside the scope of electricity generation. Its by-products, such as refined coal tar, is used in producing creosote oil and naphthalene. Its by-products can also be found in soap, dyes and fabrics. Coal itself is used on specialist products, like activated carbon used in manufacturing water filters, air purifiers and kidney dialysis machines.
One advantage of coal is that it is not reliant on weather – despite strong winds or rain, coal-fired power plants can still operate, as opposed to renewable energy sources that may not be able to operate smoothly due to factors like the wind not blowing hard enough to make windmills move.
The World Coal Association said that coal provided electricity for over a billion people all over the world and that the industry has created seven million jobs.
Despite all its accomplishments and benefits, coal must learn to stay relevant in the midst of the changes in the energy sector, and focus on being able to reduce its emissions while still remaining as one of the world’s main sources of energy.