The use of coal has a rich history spanning over a few centuries, with its peak period in mid 19th-century wherein it became the major source of energy. More recently, however, it has become infamous for the great deal of pollution it tends to cause. Late-20th century and early-21st century have witnessed immense outcry about the use of fossil fuels, like coal and oil, which have caused a lot of damage to the environment and triggered quite a few environmental issues, including air pollution and global warming.
Evaluation of the Advantages of Coal
No source of energy can boast of only having advantages, and no disadvantages; coal is no exception. Though it has several disadvantages, some of which are quite prominent, it also has some advantages. In fact, these were the advantages that made coal scale the popularity charts in the mid-19th century and gave it the name 'black diamond'. Some of these are discussed below.
Available in abundance: With numerous coal deposits across the world, coal is undoubtedly one of the most-abundant sources of energy on the planet. The concentration of other fossil fuels, such as oil and natural gas, is restricted to certain regions in the world. The political instability in these regions makes it difficult to harness them. In contrast, coal is found all over the world and this makes it most popular and most-abundant fossil fuel in the world.
Easy to use source of energy: An easy to use source of energy, the uses of coal range from barbecue preparation to production of electricity. The process of coal extraction is much more convenient than the process of oil and natural gas extraction and refining. More importantly, the entire process from the moment of extraction to the moment it reaches our door step is quite lengthy as compared to that of coal.
Relatively easy to transport: Yet another advantage of coal over its fossil counterparts is the fact that it is relatively easy to transport from one place to another. In case of oil and gas transportation, the company needs to set up high-pressure pipelines and back them with necessary security cover. Most of the coal mining regions are well connected to the industrial belts by a rail network, which is again one of the cheapest modes of transportation available.
Reliable source of energy: The advantages of coal don't just overshadow the advantages of other fossil fuels, but also overshadow some of the advantages of alternative energy sources; reliability being one of them. Alternative sources, such as wind energy and solar energy, are dependent on the nature to a great extent.
Inexpensive source of energy: Abundant availability, easy transportation, easy processing, etc., make it one of the most inexpensive sources of energy in the world. More importantly, coal industry being the largest among the various energy sources, provides ample employment opportunities and economic benefits to the nation.
Even though the advantages of other sources exceed that of coal, we can't deny the fact that this source of energy does have its share of advantages. That being said, we also need to take into consideration the fact that coal deposits around the world are getting exhausted at an alarming rate. Besides this, sources like nuclear energy promise a great deal of efficiency and alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind power, promise a clean source of power. Therefore, coal and other fossil fuels are left with no option, but to make way for these efficient and environment-friendly sources of power.