6 Advantages and Disadvantages of Coal

Coal is one of the oldest and most important non-renewable energy sources available in the world. It is also still being used in different applications and industries such as pharmaceutical, transportation, paper, aluminum and mining. In fact, coal mining has been in existence for two hundred years and has been providing jobs for miners and workers.

However, despite the number of benefits coal has to offer, it does not come without negative attributes. Aside from being a source of carbon emissions, according to experts, it is also one of the dirtiest forms of energy. Be that as it may, it is also a type of fossil fuel that supplies 40% of the world’s electricity. Let us discuss the pros and cons of coal to have a better understanding of this mineral.

List of Advantages of Coal

1. It is an abundant energy source.
Countries like the United States, India, China and Indonesia produce coal, a sign that from third to first world countries, it is a popular mineral. This is because unlike oil and natural gas which are also non-renewable energy sources, coal has an abundant supply. In fact, the world has at least 300 years of coal reserves while the U.S. has around 190 years. Moreover, it makes up to 30% of the world’s energy requirements.

2. It gives jobs to people.
In order to get coal, it needs to be mined. Coal mining is one of the most popular industries because it gives jobs to thousands of people such as miners, truck drivers and laborers, among others. In the U.S. alone, there are 52 coal mines which employ thousands of miners and there are also manufacturers that use coal for their products which also need workers.

3. It has a variety of uses.
Aside from the transportation industry, other industries rely on coal because it is used as one of the primary ingredients like in making silicon metal and carbon fiber. Moreover, coal tar, a by-product of this mineral is used to produce clothing materials, dyes and paper.

List of Disadvantages of Coal

1. It is hazardous to health and safety.
One of the disadvantages of coal is the threat it poses to the health of workers like the miners who inhale the fumes of burning coal. Also, people who live near coal mines are exposed to the hazards of these fumes. Coal mining accidents are also prevalent and there have been reported deaths of miners who were trapped in coal mines that have caved in, making coal unsafe.

2. It destroys the environment.
Apart from health hazards, coal is also said to be affecting the environment since many forests are destroyed when miners dig for coal, displacing not only the people living in the vicinity but also animal and bird species. Moreover, plants, soil and nature are destroyed in coal mining.

3. It contributes to pollution, among other things.
When coal and other fossil fuels are burned, this results to waste gases that contain sulfur and nitrogen oxide. These wastes become acid rain when mixed with atmospheric water and can pollute the air. Since the wind carries with it dust, it is possible for toxic substances to be transported to extensive areas.

Despite the disadvantages of coal, it still remains to be a necessity for mankind. What is important is to think of alternative ways to produce energy while minimizing the bad effects of coal. With research and a common goal for a safer environment, countries can come together to ensure coal becomes less of a threat.