Coal’s Impact on Global Energy Needs


Energy is important to our lives, not just for those of us living in the United States but for those living all around the world. There are over one billion people who lack energy. In addition to that, tens of millions of people are moving from rural villages to urban cities every year, which means they are using more energy. This raises some key questions that need to be answered soon.

How should people get their energy? How can we produce enough energy to meet everyone’s needs? What energy sources are both cost-effective and environmentally sound?


There are six main sources of energy being used today: oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, and renewables (which includes solar and wind). Each source has its pros and cons, but one thing is clear: coal is an important energy source.

Since 1970, the use of coal-fueled electricity has gone up 350% around the world. Coal currently fuels 41% of global power (around 33% in the United States specifically). These numbers will continue to rise.

Why? One reason is that developing countries in Asia, such as China and India, are using more coal. China and India are the two most populated countries in the world, meaning that there are a lot of people who want and need more energy.

As of 2015, there are 240 million people living in India who do not have access to electricity. India’s government is hoping to change that, because access to electricity means a better economy and a better quality of life for its residents. India is developing large-scale coal-fired power plants to meet this increase in demand. Read more about India’s energy “trilemma.”

India and other countries are choosing coal because of its affordability and availability. Coal can be found in many countries around the world, which means that those countries can provide their own energy rather than bringing in sources from elsewhere. This helps keep costs low. Coal is also more available and more affordable than renewables.

All energy sources will be needed in order to meet the increased demand for energy around the world. Coal will play its own important role.