Advantages and Disadvantages of Coal
The Solar System consists of several planets, stars, and galaxies, but life only exists on the Earth. The existence of life on the Earth is the availability of life-supporting gases like oxygen, water, food, minerals, etc., together, making Earth habitable. Numerous minerals and natural resources are present on Earth, and their discoveries made it the most suitable habitat and only life-supporting planet.
Nature is the most prestigious gift that provides all human needs. Nature provides everything needed for the survival and growth of humans. Nature fulfills all the necessities; whether it is the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, the house where we live, the clothes we wear, and all the minerals required for the development of any nation, everything comes from Nature. The minerals, mountains, lakes, rivers, oceans, everything belongs to Mother Nature, and that's why Nature is everything and everything in Nature.
Nature owns everything from the small drop of water to the large oceans, from small rocks to large deposits of strategic minerals, from single trees to forests, from small hills to large mountains, etc.
The existence of Nature is much older than the evolution of human beings, Nature comes first, and after the full development of Nature, life comes over the Earth in a million years. Under Nature, the atmosphere, Lithosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere make the environment and life possible on Earth.
The environment is the natural component in which living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic: climate, weather, a natural phenomenon like lightning, etc.) factors interact among themselves and with each other. All organisms depend on the environment to carry out their natural life process and meet physical requirements such as food, energy, water, oxygen, shelter, etc. Nature's beauty is impossible to match, and it is the greatest blessing to humanity.
Without Nature, no one can think about the existence of life on Earth, and it beautifies the Earth with its natural components like rivers, sunshine, trees, etc. They all together make Earth a living entity in itself.
There are several layers on the Earth. One of the layers is the Lithosphere, the building block or deposits of minerals and fossil fuels. Coal is one such fossil fuel.
Let us see the different aspects related to Coal. Energy is the capacity to do work and exists in several forms, such as heat, light, hydro, etc. The sources of energy are Renewable and Non Renewable. Renewable energy is energy that replenishes constantly and is obtained from natural processes. Examples of Renewable energy are Solar, Wind, hydrogen, etc.
Non Renewable energy is limited in quantity, such as Coal, Oil, and natural gases. These energies are also called fossil fuels, as they are the remains of plants and animals that lived thousands of years ago. And fossil fuels are the predominantly most widely used source of energy. Despite being in limited quantity, their usage is extremely high, deteriorating the Earth's capacity to regenerate.
What is Coal?
Coal is a non-renewable conventional source of energy. It is a type of explosive energy obtained from the rock strata of coal seams. It is considered sedimentary rock, and its color varies from black to brownish. It is a carbon compound with various amounts of other elements such as hydrogen, sulfur, oxygen, nitrogen, etc.
The formation of Coal takes millions of years from the matter of dead plants decaying, it is transformed into peat, and later under the pressure of heat and other variables, it is converted into Coal. Vast amounts of Coal originated from the former wetlands called coal forests. Today, most of the world uses Coal, which belongs to the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras. It is primarily used as fuel. But with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, its usage increased.
Coal is the most widely used energy source. And in 2020, it supplies a quarter of the world's primary energy. Several industries use coal as an input for the production of their goods. Most important was the invention of the steam engine which increased its usage. But the extreme usage of coal creates problems for the Earth and humans.
Types of Coal
There are mainly four types of coal found in Nature:
Some Characteristics of Coal:
Some Uses of Coal:
Advantages of Coal
1. Cheaper than Other Fossil Fuels
Coal is the cheapest fossil fuel because of its availability, easy transport, easy storage, and affordability. Coal doesn't need any special equipment for storing or transporting. Its easy availability also contributed to making it the cheapest fuel.
2. Easy to Store
Due to technological advancements, Coal can be stored easily without reacting with other elements. It can be stored for a long time and be used when the need arises.
3. Converted into Other Forms
Coal is used as raw material for various industries. But it has a property that allows it to easily convert into other forms, be it in gas or liquid form. Apart from using as an energy source, coal can also be used to produce several chemicals used in the manufacturing of household materials. For instance, if we use solar energy as a primary energy, it can create problems when there is no sunlight, but this type of hassle is not found in coal.
4. Produces Minimal Waste
Coal is a type of non-renewable energy that produces less waste than other forms of energy. Smoke is the only waste produced from coal, and there is hardly any other waste. The by-product of coal also has monetary value as it is used for producing other products.
5. Creates Employment
Every industry needs a worker for the compilation of work. But the coal industry requires more labor or workers than the other industries because it is more labor intensive. Hence it creates more job opportunities for several people. Jobs like drivers, miners, cleaners, loaders, managers, etc., are provided by the coal industry.
6. Highly Compatible Fuel
Coal is the backbone of several other sources of energy. Coal is regarded as a highly compatible source of fuel. It provides opportunities for other energy sources to collaborate with coal and earn real-time advantages. For example, we can use biomass technology with coal when needed. The combination of coal with other energy sources proves very beneficial to the environment as they have fewer carbon emissions.
7. Safer Alternative Source of Energy
Several energy sources are very hazardous to use. For example, using nuclear energy requires special training and knowledge. But coal use doesn't require any special knowledge. It is highly safe. With the advent of the latest technology, the safety of coal workers also improved. With the help of safety gear and proper equipment, they can work more efficiently.
8. Simple Burning Process
Extracting energy from coal is a very easy process. It doesn't need any special techniques. The only thing is that we put the coal in a reaction chamber, and the work is done. And this system is high-speed, convenient, and efficient to use.
9. Huge Global Reserves
The most important advantage of coal is the huge reserves of coal, which are found in almost every continent. Several estimates say that the world has around 1 trillion reserves of coal, and if we use coal at the present rate, it is sufficient for 200-400 years. 200-400 years is sufficient time to develop green alternatives which cause less pollution and depletion to the environment.
10. Reduce Dependence on Oil
Today the most discussed topic is energy security. Every nation wants energy security. Energy security is important because it forms the backbone of the nation's development. Energy security was achieved when we invested in green and clean fuels. Efficiency in energy security can be achieved only when we reduce our dependency on the import of foreign oil. Sometimes national security is at risk because they depend on other nations for their energy security, and if the exporter nation experiences political instability, it automatically threatens energy security. So coal reserves help in this situation by providing safer fuel and reducing dependency on foreign oil. However, coal as an easily available fuel also has several disadvantages, as discussed below;
Some of the Disadvantages of Coal are:
1. Coal is a Non-renewable Source of Energy
Although Coal has huge reserves and abundant supply, Coal is regarded as a non-renewable energy source. Coal usage is very fast, but its reproduction is slow. If the Coal is fully exhausted, it takes millions of years to reproduce. Today industries of the world use coal at a very rapid pace. Coal is used in several works. For example, coal is used in electricity generation, heating, etc.
2. Environmental Impact
When coal is burned to produce energy, it releases several harmful gases that negatively affect the Earth and the environment. The burning of Coal releases several gases, but the emission of CO2 is the most notable. Emission of CO2 in the atmosphere due to coal burning increase the proportion of greenhouse gases. And this emission contributed to climate change and global warming. And the emission of gases from coal burning creates more pollution and causes acid rain in several areas, which destroys vegetation.
3. Extraction of Coal destroys Natural Habitat
The reserves of Coal are generally located in the forest, mountains, and other natural habitats. Extraction of coal from these reserves disturbs the natural habitat, and sometimes it destroys wildlife and also disturbs the symbiotic relationship between nature and humans.
4. Coal Mining's Negative Impacts
Coal reserves are generally located in that place which is not easily accessible. Making way for coal transportation requires well developed extensive transportation system which passes through mountains, valleys, etc. Building such infrastructure has consequences on the natural landscape, and pollution from mining also creates other problems.
5. Displaces Human Settlements
Reserves of coal were discovered in an area that humans inhabit. But after the discovery of coal reserves, once the miners start mining, they tend to displace the people from their settlements. And sometimes, it creates violence because their removal causes tension between miners and people.
6. Impact on Miners' Health
When CO2 is emitted as output, it negatively affects miners' health. Sometimes direct and long-time exposure to Coal causes several types of diseases. Coal-related health issues include premature deaths, suffocation, asthma, pneumonia, lung cancer, and oxygen deprivation.
7. Potentially Radioactive
When the extraction of coal takes place apart from several harmful gases there is the release of some radioactively active chemicals. Mining of coal also releases several radiations that are carcinogenic and causes cancer.
8. Noise Pollution
The machine used to extract coal from their reserves causes noise pollution. Because the machines used are very large and during working, they produce unwanted sounds which irritate the miner, residents, etc.
There are several advantages and disadvantages of Coal. Coal as energy is required to fulfill the needs of humanity, but at the same time, there is a need to work on clean and green energy.