Our energy sources – Coal

Coal is a flammable sedimentary rock which is either black or brownish-black in color. The main element coal is made up of is the carbon which constitutes to about 70% to 90% of the coal. The other elements that coal is composed of are hydrogen, sulfur, oxygen, and nitrogen.

Coal has always been primarily used as a source of energy. The coal is burned for the production of electricity and heat. Hence, coal is often used for the industrial purposes. Coal is believed to be the largest source of energy worldwide and coal is also one of the largest anthropogenic sources of carbon dioxide releases. 40% of the world’s electricity is reported to come from coal. Coal is extracted from the ground by the process called “coal mining”.

Coal production faced a decline of 50 years but the production of coal again increased in the 21st century. Today, coal provides about a quarter of the world’s energy needs. Also, 70% of the world steel production depends on the burning of coal. The largest coal producer in the world that has ruled the market is China. Other countries that closely follow are United States, India, European Union, Indonesia, and Australia.

Coal is also an important element in the production of a variety of chemical fertilizers and other chemical products which are made by coal gasification that produces syngas. The chemicals that are produced include methanol, hydrogen, and carbon monoxide. From these chemicals, other derivative chemicals are produced like olefins, acetic acid, formaldehyde, ammonia, urea and others.

After the industrial revolution coal was widely used as a solid fuel to produce electricity and heat through combustion. As per EIA, the total coal consumption worldwide is expected to increase with an average rate of 0.6% per year. In India, coal is the most significant and abundant fossil fuel. The commercial energy consumption in India has grown by 700% in the last 40 years. Energy usage in India is expected to increase even more. Also since reserve potentiality of petroleum and natural gas is limited, coal will continue to be the front liner in India ‘s energy segment.

Importers and Exporters of Coal