In 2017, March, President Donald Trump had lifted a moratorium that had been there in place for the Federal coal leases granted by the United State government. Lifting this moratorium had allowed for 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 resource of energy.
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 that we have ample energy available through the infrastructure which supports 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 to the atmosphere in a huge amount 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 is able to function.
Pros and cons of coal energy
The Pros of Coal Energy
The availability of coal makes it very affordable:
Beyond the huge stockpiles of coal that have already been mined by the people, 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 that coal energy possesses, businesses and homes were throwing the coal into fireplaces in order to warm their houses.
Engineers would also throw coal into the boilers for creating 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 not at all expensive, the power that it produces and gets consumed is also comparatively inexpensive.
For many areas out there, coal is just a few cents per kilowatt-hour and this fact makes 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 of coal, but they cannot be used for 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, it can be accessed whenever there is a power requirement. In addition, it also offers the ability to burn the extras during the peak demand times.
Clean coal technologies help to limit the emissions that are released:
As of the year 2017, coal energy is what responsible for about half of the total amount of electricity being generated in the United States of America. Thanks to the clean coal technologies, many of the emissions which are released during the time of the combustion phase of that resource can be captured.
This puts a limit on the potential damage to the environment and the atmosphere while maintaining the current infrastructures.
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 with the high load factor that is being generated during the process.
Cons of Coal Energy
The mining of coal destroys natural habitats:
In order to remove coal from the ground, different processes of mining is used that destroy the natural habitat in that particular region. Part of that destruction includes the potential pollution of groundwater tables and the removal of the trees.
Also, there is the added danger of having a fire starting in a coal mine. A coal seam fire in the New Castle, Carbon monoxide has been burning for more than around 120 years.
Clean coal technologies are not without cost:
When looking at the method of carbon capture and storage, the technologies to turn current coal-fired plants in order to clear coal could considerably increase the cost of energy for the 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 of 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 free from risk. When concentrated carbon dioxide is piped out of a plant and into the storage technology, could be potentially dangerous and deadly if inhaled.
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 the energy can make society go backward instead of ahead.
The mining process for coal leaves behind environmental toxins:
Various Bi-products of coal mining including arsenic, selenium, sulfur dioxide, and mercury Miners who inhale coal dust can develop a chronic condition which is called Black Lung Disease. It can make it difficult for the person to breath and will decrease their overall quality of life.
It produces radiation:
When coal energy is burned at a coal-fired power plant, produces more outward radiation exposure as compared to 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:
Despite the fact that 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 considerable amount of the benefits that can be achieved.