In March 2017, President Donald Trump lifted a moratorium that had been there in place for the Federal coal leases granted by the United States government. Lifting this moratorium allowed various companies to begin excavating fossil fuel from public lands so that more and more coal energy could be produced. One of the benefits of using coal energy is that it is usually a cost-effective energy resource.
The current stockpiles of coal can actually provide the world with more than a century of energy, whereas U.S based coal reserves could last over 400 years. With coal, we all know we have ample energy available through the infrastructure supporting its delivery. But, one of the biggest disadvantages of using coal energy is its potential damage to the environment and the atmosphere.
Carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere in a huge amounts when coal is combusted for fuel. Additional emissions are also released through the mining processes and delivery processes. This power resource could be altering the way how our planet can function.
The Pros of Coal Energy
The availability of coal makes it very affordable:
Beyond the huge stockpiles of coal that the people have already mined, there is an estimated global reserve for this fossil fuel that can be more than 1 trillion tons.
Whereas other fossil fuels, at currently existing consumption levels and without any new deposit discoveries, will not last the century, coal gives the people of the world security in knowing that the present society and the lifestyle have the potential of being around for so many years to come.
The energy infrastructure supports coal:
Combusting coal has been a process of energy generation for even more than two centuries. Even before the industrial sector had discovered the ways to harness the power of coal energy, businesses and homes were throwing coal into fireplaces to warm their houses.
Engineers would also throw coal into the boilers to create steam energy for transportation and other purposes. The infrastructure was created around the idea that coal would fuel it.
The cost of coal is quite cheap.
The price of one ton of coal can be around as much as it might cost a family of four to have lunch outside. Because this fuel resource is not expensive, the power it produces and gets consumes is also comparatively inexpensive.
Coal is just a few cents per kilowatt-hour for many areas, making the energy resource available for almost everyone. It can also be called upon at any time.
There is no lag time with coal energy:
Renewable energy resources, such as solar or wind power, might not have the same emissions as that coal, but they cannot be used all around the clock either.
If the wind stops blowing or if the sun sets down, the community must depend on the saved energy through the batteries. But, with coal, energy can be accessed whenever there is a power requirement. In addition, it also offers the ability to burn extras during peak demand times.
Clean coal technologies help to limit the emissions that are released:
As of the year 2017, coal energy is responsible for about half of the total amount of electricity being generated in the United States of America. Thanks to clean coal technologies, many of the emissions released during the combustion phase of that resource can be captured.
This limits the potential damage to the environment and the atmosphere while maintaining the current infrastructure.
It can be converted into different forms of fuel:
Coal can be turned into a gas or even into a liquid. When this process has been done, the coal energy burns cleaner than it would have if the natural resource were being burnt in the natural state. That is because of the fact that the particulate counts are minimized through this entire process of conversion without compromising the high load factor that is being generated during the process.
Cons Of Coal Energy
The mining of coal destroys natural habitats:
Different mining processes are used to remove coal from the ground that destroy the natural habitat in that particular region. Part of that destruction includes the potential pollution of groundwater tables and the removal of trees.
Also, there is the added danger of having a fire starting in a coal mine. In a coal seam fire in the New Castle, Carbon monoxide has been burning for over 120 years.
Clean coal technologies are not without cost:
When looking at the carbon capture and storage method, the technologies to turn current coal-fired plants to clear coal could considerably increase the energy cost for individual consumers. Live Science estimates that some carbon capture and storage technologies can raise the price of energy by up to 75% or more.
The technology relies on a finite resource:
Although there are huge stockpiles and large deposits of coal to generate energy in the world of today, it is a fossil fuel. That means that it is a finite resource and not renewable. At some point in time, our societies must look for alternatives for energy production before this resource runs out.
It could produce deadly consequences:
Coal can be a proven technology, but it is not risk-free. When concentrated carbon dioxide is piped out of a plant and into the storage technology, inhaling it could be potentially dangerous and deadly.
Carbon, when dissolved, is also strongly acidic in nature and could add toxins to the groundwater tables of the planet. Because there is such a destructive potential to coal energy, depending on it for energy can make society go backward instead of ahead.
The mining process for coal leaves behind environmental toxins:
With various Bi-products of coal mining, including arsenic, selenium, sulfur dioxide, and mercury, Miners inhaling coal dust can develop a chronic condition called Black Lung Disease. It can make breathing difficult for the person and decrease their overall quality of life.
It produces radiation:
When coal energy is burned at a coal-fired power plant, it produces more outward radiation exposure than a nuclear power plant would generate. The emissions are also linked with increased levels of asthma and lung cancer for local populations as compared to the other forms of energy.
It doesn’t move us forward:
Even though clean coal is a positive evolution in the field of coal energy, people are essentially using the same technologies that our forefathers developed in the industrial revolution.
The coal energy pros and cons altogether show us that this technology has had a positive impact on society in the past, but the future may lie elsewhere. Although it is an inexpensive resource and provides reliable power, the potential damage to the planet may outweigh the considerable amount of benefits that can be achieved.
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