The Nonrenewable Energy Resource of the Past


How Coal Becomes Electricity

Coal is relatively close to the earth’s surface, and it is one of the most abundant fossil fuels throughout the world. Harnessing energy from coal happens through a process called combustion, to produce heat. Here is how coal is converted into energy, we use to power our lives and homes:


  1. Mining: Coal is extracted through surface and underground mining. Miners harvest coal deposits. Soil and rock layers are removed to access coal seams. 
  2. Transportation: The extracted coal is then transported for processing. 
  3. Preparation: Once it arrives at a power plant, the coal is cleaned of impurities and crushed to make the burning process simpler. 
  4. Combustion: In a power plant, coal is burned in a furnace or boiler. Burning coal generates heat, which heat is used to generate steam by boiling water. Steam then powers turbines which are connected to generators and in turn generate electricity. The burning of coal is also known as thermal or steam coal. 
  5. Electricity Generation: The rotating turbines generate electricity as they turn. This electricity is then distributed through power grids for your household consumption. 


Coal has been a reliable source of energy for years, but its combustion comes with environmental challenges. In the conversion process, it produces large amounts of pollution and gas emissions like sulphate and nitrogen, which lead to haze, smog, and can poison waterways. Coal also produces mercury, which can contaminate sea life and therefore food sources. 


Continuing to burn coal for energy use creates many negative effects for the planet and our environment. Luckily, there is a solution, and it is available everywhere.


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