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Coal. By: Yasmine Alkema , Dylan Comerford , and Tori Davis. History. Evidence dating back to 100AD tells us that Romans used coal in England during the second and third centuries Industrial Revolution

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By: YasmineAlkema, Dylan Comerford, and Tori Davis


  • Evidence dating back to 100AD tells us that Romans used coal in England during the second and third centuries

  • Industrial Revolution

    • During the first part of the 1800’s the Industrial Revolution moved it’s way to the United States of America. During this time, coal was used to fuel the boilers of steamships as well as steam-powered railroads

  • During the Civil War weapon producing factories started using coal to increase efficiency

  • Around 1875, coke (made from coal) replaced charcoal which was the main fuel source of iron furnaces that produced steel

    • Steel was used to make weapons

  • The first time burning coal was used to generate electricity was in the the early 1880’s

    • It was used for homes and factories and now it is used by America for almost half of it’s entire electric sector

What part of our energy needs do we currently derive from coal
What part of our energy needs do we currently derive from coal?

  • In 2012 the United States was the largest energy consumer in the world

  • The majority of the United States energy consumption is powered by fossil fuels

    • In order from first to last the following sources of fuel are used to keep the U.S running; petroleum 25%, coal 22%, natural gas 22%, nuclear power 8.4%, and finally renewable energy which is 8%

What part of our energy needs do we currently derive from coal1
What part of our energy needs do we currently derive from coal?

  • In the United States 40% of the energy consumption comes from the electric sector. Coal plays a substantial role in delivering electricity to the U.S.

  • 92% of the coal that is consumed in the U.S is used for the generation of electricity.

    • 92% of the power coming to Americans televisions, radios, microwaves and so on is made possible by the burning of coal to generate the required electricity.

  • In order to produce all of this electricity, the U.S currently has roughly 1400 coal-fired electricity generating units in operation

    • These electricity generating units are spread out across the country which total close to 600 plants

    • Together these coal-fired plants generate more than one third of the United States electricity. In order to create this amount of electricity more than 800 million short tons of coal is used during production.

Has this been changing over time
Has this been changing over time?

  • The U.S holds the worlds largest estimated reserves of coal and is actually a net exporter of it.

  • During 2012’s production analysis, more than one billion short tons of coal was produced by the U.S. even though America has an abundance of coal and uses coal for basically all of it’s electricity usage, BUT the usage of coal is actually declining in the U.S.

  • For the last 60 years coal has been the largest source of the United States electricity usage. To present day it still is, however, Americans are using coal less and less

    • Since the 1950’s the U.S has produced more coal than it was able to consume almost every year, hints the fact that the U.S is a net exporter of the resource.

Why has it been changing
Why has it been changing?

  • Coal consumption during the past 5 years in the U.S has declined for one main reason: Power producers have substituted coal for a cheaper, lower priced substitute called natural gas

  • Thanks to natural gas’s strong price competition the production of electricity using coal has slowed down rapidly in recent years

  • Natural gas is cheaper than coal

    • In the competitive price driven market in which these two resources lay, natural gas has been winning the battle for the past 5 or so years.

  • Pound for pound natural gas uses less space to store than coal which keeps costs down for producers

  • In the last couple years the value of many major energy producers stocks have been falling

Advantages of coal
Advantages of coal

  • One of the most abundant sources of energy

  • Reliable to produce electricity

  • Reduces the dependence on using oil

  • Not dependent on weather comparing to other forms of renewable energy like wind or solar power

  • Inexpensive compared to other fossil fuels

    • Coal energy is an affordable energy source because of the coal’s stable price compared to other fuel sources

Advantages of coal1
Advantages of coal

  • Versatile enough to be used for recreational activities such as BBQ’s or ahome fireplace

  • Can be safely stored and can be drawn upon to create energy in time of emergency

  • Transporting coal is relatively simple

    • It does not require the upkeep of high-pressure pipelines and there is no need for extra security when transporting it

Supply from coal reserves
Supply from coal reserves

This graph shows that the supply from coal reserves is twice better than from natural gas and 3.5 times better than from oil. Coal can guarantee supply for about 160 years.

Disadvantages of coal
Disadvantages of coal

  • Nonrenewable energy source

    • Coal cannot be recycled so it will eventually run out in the future because we consume too much of it

  • Burning coal is not environmentally friendly

    • Coal releases harmful byproducts and gas emissions such as carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen.

    • Nitrogen is a powerful greenhouse gas, which causes pollution and contributes to global warming and climate change

    • Toxins that are released by the burning of coal and the transformation into electricity produces 25% of United states global warming emissions

    • The burning of coal is also responsible for almost 80% of all carbon emissions produced by the U.S

  • Coal mining ruins the environment and puts the lives/health of people (specifically the coal miners) in danger

Disadvantages of coal1
Disadvantages of coal

  • Storage cost is high

    • Costs are especially high if required to have enough in stock for multiple years to assure power production availability

  • Has the lowest energy density per unit volume

    • The amount of energy generated per cubic meter is lower than any other fossil fuel

Current issues with coal
Current issues with coal

  • Negative effect on the environment

    • The process of burning coal results in a chemical reactions with oxygen in the air. For the most part, the carbon combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide.

  • The production of carbon dioxide adds to the supply already in the atmosphere, increasing the greenhouse effect and thereby increasing the temperature of the Earth

  • This change in temperature leads global warming

  • Health and safety dangers of coal mining

Global warming
Global warming

  • Affects every sector of the economy

  • Ex. Agriculture

    • A report from the Environmental Protection Agency stated that live stock problems will increase due to global warming. Heat stress will reduce breeding and some of the live stock diseases that now plague the South will shift northward.

    • New tropical diseases will also invade the South.

    • Problems with agricultural pests will multiply as well. More pests will survive over the warmer winters, and they will breed more generations over the longer summers.

Coal mining
Coal mining

  • Unpleasant occupation

    • Idealists have called it a job unfit for humans

  • Constant contact with dirt, often without room to stand up

  • Although there have been many improvements in recent years, it is still one of the most dangerous occupations, regularly killing over 100 men per year in the United States

  • Health Issues

Health issues
Health Issues

  • Black Lung disease

    • Miners are exceptionally susceptible to emphysema and a variety of other lung diseases

  • Have more than 20 times the normal risk of death from silicosis or pneumoconiosis

  • Have about 2.5 times the normal risk of dying from bronchitis, pneumonia, or tuberculosis

  • Die an average of 3 years younger than the rest of the population

Are we currently making efficient use coal
Are we currently making efficient use Coal?

  • The use of coal to fuel Americans energy needs is extremely inefficient

  • A typical coal plant in the United States is only 33% efficient, which results in a lot of wasted resources which impact the cost factor as well as the environment

    • There is nothing clean about coal-burning plants; however, the burning of coal still remains the largest source of the United States electricity.

What policies might correct coal s inefficiency
what policies might correct Coal’s Inefficiency?

  • Rome as not built in a day and America is not going to stop using coal by tomorrow.

    • There are steps that the U.S can take in order to achieve a more efficient and clean future:

      • A healthy energy future relies on smart/ efficient solutions

    • Many states across America have invested in efficient renewable energy.

    • Currently at least 34 states receive some part of their energy from wind power. Clean energy is not only helpful to the environment but contributes to the well being of the U.S economy too.

    • The cost of natural gas and wind power is competitively priced and is cheaper than coal. A study by the Apollo Alliance recently found that renewable energy can generate 40% more jobs per dollar invested than coal.

The future of coal
The future of coal

  • No future; the market has decided that coal is no longer competitive

    • Most of the industries already try to multiply the utility scale of the solar power and adding wind power

  • Will no longer be the main source of energy in the future because of its high costs and its costs associated with those environmental concerns

    • No new coal plants are being built, but renewable energy sources like solar and wind plants are being developed around the world