5 Advantages of Coal Energy Explained

Advantages of coal energy are; relative low-cost, multiple applications, job creation, fuel availability, and flexible usage.

This article discusses the advantages of coal energy, as follows;






1). Relative Low-Cost (as one of the Advantages of Coal Energy)

In view of its energy density as a fuel, coal is a cheap energy resource.

This fact can be attributed to the abundance of coal in many regions, as well as the ease of extraction and processing compared to other fossil fuels.

However, coal is not the cheapest source of energy, as this attribution goes to renewable energy forms like hydro energy.

Relative low-cost makes coal energy fairly competitive, so that it is a major contributor to electricity generation among other uses.

The only challenge with regards to the cost of coal energy arises from its high carbon output, and the associated costs in terms of environmental impacts, decarbonization and remediation efforts.





2). Multiple Applications

Versatility of usage is one of the most beneficial advantages of any energy resource.

The two main uses of coal energy are electricity generation and heating. However, both coal as a hydrocarbon, and its energy, find multiple, diverse applications in various industries.

Coal can be applied in waste-to-energy processes like gasification, as well as in the production of steel.

These diverse uses imply that coal energy development can help address multiple needs of the society and economy.






3). Job Creation (as one of the Advantages of Coal Energy)

Another advantage of coal energy is its role in job creation.

A coal power plant can create hundreds to several thousands of jobs over its entire lifetime, depending on the scale of the plant and its mode of operation.

The average wage for coal industry jobs is also fairly high [1], and these jobs range across various career field in mechanical, electrical and mining engineering, chemistry and geology, among others.

However, it is important to mention that the role of coal energy as a job creator is likely to diminish in coming years, due to the energy transition agenda that includes the adoption and growth of renewable energy technologies.

Advantages of Coal Energy: Job Creation (Credit: Peabody Energy, Inc. 2014 .CC BY 3.0.)
Advantages of Coal Energy: Job Creation (Credit: Peabody Energy, Inc. 2014 .CC BY 3.0.)




4). Fuel Availability

As a fuel, coal is available in abundance in many parts of the world.

The global estimate of coal reserves is over 1 trillion tonnes [3]. At current rates of consumption, the available proven reserves will remain in supply for about 131 years from 2023.

With the above said, it is likely that coal will be in adequate supply until the energy transition is fully achieved and renewable energy becomes dominant for all purposes.

The availability of coal means that coal energy is fairly reliable, and can provide a consistent supply of power for human consumption.





5). Flexible Usage (as one of the Advantages of Coal Energy)

A flexible energy source is one which offers a variety of options with regards to the objectives and conditions usage.

Flexible power plants are those designed to operate effectively under diverse conditions, and with varying levels of complexity.

Coal power plants are often able to integrate different systems or components, and functionalities.

Retrofitting of coal plants enable them perform a variety of functions, and reduces the overall cost of complex power generation processes [2].

As a result of its flexibility, coal energy can be used as a supplementary or integrated power source with other types of renewable and non-renewable energy. It is also possible to integrate carbon removal and carbon capture technologies with coal energy technology, to achieve decarbonization and mitigate environmental impacts.






Advantages of coal energy are;

1. Relative Low-Cost

2. Multiple Applications

3. Job Creation

4. Fuel Availability

5. Flexible Usage







1). Neal, A.(2020). "Issue Brief | How Coal Country Can Adapt to the Energy Transition." Available at: https://www.eesi.org/papers/view/issue-brief-how-coal-country-can-adapt-to-the-energy-transition. (Accessed 16 January 2023).

2). Qvist, S.; Gladysz, P.; Bartela, L.; Sowiżdżał, A. (2020). "Retrofit Decarbonization of Coal Power Plants—A Case Study for Poland." Energies 14(1):120. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/en14010120. (Accessed 18 January 2023).

3). Yang, G.; Wang, J.; Shao, W.; Wang, H. (2015). "The Relationship Between China's Coal Resource Development and Water Resource." Energy Procedia 75:2548-2555. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.egypro.2015.07.288. (Accessed 18 January 2023).

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