By Ashley and Patrick

• Coal-burning power plants supply the United States with half its electricity


  • Coal is formed from prehistoric plant and animal remains. When pressure, heat, and time is added, coal is formed.
  • Coal is primarily carbon based. When coal is burned carbon dioxide is released.
  • It takes roughly 300 million years to form coal.

Advantages of Coal:

  • Coal is very plentiful. There is a lot of it in the U.S. We have 25% of known coal reserves
  • Coal is fairly cheap, and it could lower energy bills
  • Coal is versatile. It can be used just as coal but it can also be turned into different more efficient forms.
  • Easily combustible, and produces high energy upon combustion helping in locomotion and in the generation of electricity and various other forms of energy;
  • Widely and easily distributed all over the world
  • Comparatively inexpensive due to large reserves and easy accessibility
  • Very large amounts of electricity can be generated in one place using coal, fairly cheaply.
  • A fossil-fueled power station can be built almost anywhere, so long as you can get large quantities of fuel to it. Most coal fired power stations have dedicated rail links to supply the coal.

Mountain Top Removal

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Diagram of a Coal Burning Plant:

Disadvantages of Coal:

  • Coal is one of the main reasons for bad air pollution. The pollution created from the burning of coal can create acid rain and puts carbon monoxide in the atmosphere.
  • The burning of coal can create or worsen health problems in people
  • Coal is completely non-renewable so once you use it its gone
  • Non-renewable and fast depleting
  • High coal transportation costs, especially for countries with no coal resources.
  • Coal storage cost is high especially if required to have enough stock for few years to assure power production availability.
  • Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide, a powerful greenhouse gas, that had been stored in the earth for millions of years, contributing to global warming.
  • It leaves behind harmful by-products upon combustion, thereby causing a lot of pollution.
  • Mining of coal leads to irreversible damage to the adjoining environment.
  • Mining and burning of coal pollutes the environment, causes acid rain and ruins all living creature's lungs.
  • It will eventually run out.
  • It cannot be recycled.
  • Prices for all fossil fuels are rising, especially if the real cost of their carbon is included

Effects on the Environment:

  • A coal plant generates about 3,700,000 tons of carbon dioxide every year; this is one of the main causes of global warming. A single coal plant creates 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain that damages forests, lakes, and buildings. When people dig for coal, they cut down many trees. A coal plant also creates 720 tons of carbon monoxide; which causes headaches and place additional stress on people with heart disease.
  • A 500-megawatt coal- fired plant draws about 2.2 billion gallons of water from near by bodies of water. This is enough water to support approximately 250,000 people. Some people have said that coal power is good, because coal power is reliable and affordable. It may be reliable and affordable, but in the future the damage that coal power would cause, would be much more expressive.
  • They also emit a stew of damaging substances, including sulfur dioxide—a major cause of acid rain—and mercury. And they gush as much climate-warming carbon dioxide as America's cars, trucks, buses, and planes combined. They release nitrogen oxides.
  • Of all fossil fuels, coal puts out the most carbon dioxide per unit of energy, so burning it poses a further threat to global climate, already warming alarmingly.

Costs of Coal:

  • $70 a ton or 3.5 cents a pound
  • Costs of Coal Electricity
    • First 500 kilowatt-hours = 5.8 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh)
    • Additional kWh = 10 cent per kilowatt hour
    • Additional kWh = 8.3 cent per kilowatt hour