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Pros of Coal – Abundance and Cheapness Biggest Advantages of Coal

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Coal is one of the most abundant fossil fuels available on earth and is a major supplier of energy. Coal is the largest producer of electricity in the world accounting for more than 40% of the global electricity production. This is expected to rise to 44% according to IEA. In the last decade global coal consumption has grown faster than any other fuel. Coal has many other important uses as well such as  steel production, cement manufacturing 6 billion tonnes of hard coal  and 909 million tonnes of brown coal were used with China accounting for almost 45% of the global coal consumption. Coal is also one of the largest sources of Carbon Dioxide Emissions as well responsible for double the GHG emissions from Oil. Coal is regarded as the dirtiest form of Energy due to high Carbon Emissions, Pollution, Hazardous Substances such as Mercury, Deaths due to Coal Mining etc. However the cheapness of coal,its established industrial base and abundance makes Coal indispensable in the Short Term just like Nuclear Energy. A Number of Approaches like Carbon Capture, Clean Coal Technologies are being promoted in order to make Coal more Environmentally Palatable. Here are the main Advantages of Coal.


Pros of Coal

1) Abundance – Coal is located almost universally,it can be found on every continent in over 70 countries, with the biggest reserves in the USA, Russia, China and India.

2) Continuous,Predictable,Reliable Source of Power – Coal Based Energy can be generated almost 24×7  unlike other forms of renewable energy like wind and solar that are intermittent in nature.

3) Low Capital Investment – The capital investment required for Coal based Power plants is relatively less at $1-2/watt of Thermal  Capacity. Note wind energy is slightly higher while Solar is even higher. Coal Mines are also quite cheap to build and Mine with Open Cast Mines providing Coal at a very Low Cost.

4) Low Cost – Coal is one of  the cheapest forms of energy making it the energy of choice in developing countries like India and China. In India its possible to get cheap coal at just $20/ton while international prices of coal range in the region of $100/ton. Note Coal based electricity can be produced at 2-4c/Kwh making it the cheapest electricity source.

5) High Load Factor – Thermal Power Plants have very high load factors in excess of 80%. They can generate power almost 24/7 and only require shutdown for periodic maintenance. Coal Based Plants which have become too old or have been shutdown due to environmental concerns can still be used for backup power.

6) Large  Potential compared to Oil – Coal  Energy Potential is quite large compared to other Fossil Fuels like Oil and Gas.Coal Reserves globally are estimated to be around 1 trillion tons which implies that Coal can be consumed at the current rates for another 200 years.

7) Big Industrial Base – Coal Energy has been present since the start of the Industrial Revolution with the development of the Steam Engine based on Coal. The technology and industry of the Coal Industry and Thermal Power Plants is well developed and mature. This allows a rapid deployment of Coal Power in most places in the world.

8) Coal to Liquids and Coal to Gases – Coal is now being looked upon as source of Transportation Fuels as Oil becomes scarce and increasingly costly. Coal to Liquid Plants are being constructed in India and China though the Technology is quite immature and the use of the technology is still questionable on environmental grounds.


Coal due to its long human use,established industrial base,cheapness and abundance is the biggest source of electricity and primary source of Energy. However its harmful effects on the environment, pollution, mining problems have made developed countries slow down thermal capacity expansion. However China and India continue to devour Coal in very large quantities importing millions of tons of coal. This has not only led to soaring coal prices but also increased Coal Mining in many parts of the world especially Australia, Africa and USA.


Abhishek Shah

One Response so far | Have Your Say!

  1. edward

    coal may have its good advantageages such as abundance and low cost but we also have to take into acount the Emission of harmfull greenhouse gases.