Coal is an abundant natural resource that can be used as a source of energy, as a chemical source from which numerous synthetic compounds (e.g., dyes, oils, waxes, pharmaceuticals, and pesticides) can be derived, and in the production of coke for metallurgical processes. Coal is a major source of energy in the production of electrical power using steam generation. In addition, gasification and liquefaction of coal produce gaseous and liquid fuels that can be easily transported (e.g., by pipeline) and conveniently stored in tanks. After the tremendous rise in coal use in the early 2000s, which was primarily driven by the growth of China’s economy, coal use worldwide peaked in 2012. Since then coal use has experienced a steady decline, offset largely by increases in natural gas use.
Facts about coal include:
- It is non-renewable because it takes about 1 million years to form
- It can be mined on the surface or underground
- The main uses of coal are electricity generation and steel production
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