Coal

abcoalWhen in 13th century Marco Polo returned to Europe from his trip to Far East and told his fellow countrymen about Chinese peasants using some sort of “black rocks” for keeping the fire alive, no one believed him. It took another few hundred years until Europeans found out about coal’s features, but when it finally happened, the Old Continent exploded with development (especially Great Britain, which was a progenitor of large scale usage of coal). Nowadays, 18th century Industrial Revolution is best associated with James Watt steam engine, powered by coal.

Few decades later large deposits of coal were explored in United States, which helped this country to overtake Great Britain and indeed the whole Europe in industrial development before 1900. United States gained its position not only due to the rapid growth of its industry, but also thanks to widespread of electricity. Thomas Edison was unsatisfied with his invention of light bulb, since without the whole infrastructure of production and supply of electricity his discovery was useless. In 1882 coal-fired power plant in Manhattan produced the electricity that supplied the first 800 light bulbs in New York. Shortly after, Edison build the next 300 coal-fired power plants in the world which were a symbol of new era.

Today, coal is the second source of primary energy, mostly used for power generation (41% of worldwide electricity is produced from coal). In addition, coal is used to produce virtually all non-recycled iron. Coal is abundant, affordable, easy to transport, store and use, plus free of geopolitical tensions – all these attributes made it very popular.

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