Not sure if coal is renewable or nonrenewable? This power source is a nonrenewable one that has been used around the world since the Industrial Revolution, but you need to understand why!
While coal provides affordable energy, it can cause significant environmental and health problems if not managed responsibly. Do you have any idea of how this process happens?
What is Coal?
Coal is a fossil fuel created from the remains of dead vegetation that has been compressed and heated over millions of years. It is composed of organic matter and minerals, and is classified as a sedimentary rock.
When burned, coal releases carbon dioxide (CO2), sulfur dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere although modern advances in technology can reduce these emissions.
Coal accounts for about 40% of the world’s electricity production – more than any other energy source – and provides significant employment opportunities around the world.
You can check more visual details about the coal use and process in this Energy Student video:
Types of coal
- Lignite (25%-35% carbon)
- Sub-bituminous (35%-45% carbon)
- Bituminous (45%-86% carbon)
- Anthracite (86%-97% carbon)
The higher the grade of coal, the more versatile its the uses.
Is Coal Considered Renewable or Non-Renewable Energy?
Coal is a non-renewable energy source, meaning that it cannot be replenished as quickly as it is used.
Therefore it is not considered a renewable energy source. The process of mining and burning coal has significant impacts on the environment, causing air pollution and releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which is linked to climate change.
As the demand for energy increases, alternative sources of energy such as solar or wind will become necessary in order to reduce reliance on non-renewable sources like coal.
How is Coal Formed?
Coal is a combustible black or dark brown rock consisting mainly of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen.
It is formed over millions of years by the decomposition of organic materials such as plants and animals beneath the surface of the Earth. Heat and pressure gradually transform these remains into peat which then transforms into lignite, bituminous coal and anthracite coal. Each type represents different levels of heat, energy content and carbon dioxide emissions.
Pros of Coal
Coal is a reliable energy source and provides a significantly large amount of our electricity, worldwide. It is also one of the most abundant energy sources and can be found in nearly every region across the globe.
Economically, coal is very affordable as it requires less expensive equipment to extract and doesn’t require as much infrastructure as other energy sources like solar or wind power. Furthermore, coal can be stored for long periods of time and doesn’t go bad unlike food items which need to be refrigerated or used within a short period of time.
Cons of Coal
Despite its advantages, coal is a non-renewable energy source and contributes significantly to air pollution, which contributes to climate change. Burning coal produces emissions that are linked to several types of illnesses, including heart and lung diseases.
The coal industry also has a large environmental footprint due to the fuel’s extraction process which can cause surface water and ground water contamination as well as soil erosion.
On top of that, burning coal emits pollutants into the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and ozone which can cause climate change.
As coal continues to degrade in quality with time, it will be harder for it to continue providing reliable energy over time.
Why is coal most used?
Coal has several uses, but in the United States it’s main use is to generate power.
According to the U. S. Geological Survey, most of the residences in the US use this poer source.
The process for generating eletricity is basially combustion of this coal to transform water in steam, which drives a turbine that produces the power.
What is coal used for?
The global economy is surrounded by coal. It’s is in every step of our supply change and that’s a big deal when we plan to reach net zero in 2050.
Coal is used for:
- Steel manufacturing;
- Eletricity generation;
- Papaer and aluminum production
- Transportation fuel (For this one, you can consider for electric car replacement)
- Chemical and pharmaceutical industries
Non renewable resources def
As you know, coal is a nonrenewable energy resource, but this is not the only one used by our modern society.
There’s other energy sources that are bad for the environment and we still use in global scale. These sources are:
- natural gas
- nuclear energy