2. What are the main uses of coal?
The first coal and then its derivative, coke, were the engines of the Industrial Revolution until the first decades of the twentieth century, when they began to be replaced by oil and natural gas. Until then, coal was the main fuel. The factories required an immense amount of coal, the dirtiest of fossil fuels. That is why it was called the economy of chimneys, the era of steam engines installed on railroads, ships and on new weaving and agricultural machines.
The refinement of the process to obtain coal was accelerated by the high demand for fuel, especially from the intensive use of the Watson machine. The mineral coal displaced the charcoal, although its decline is also related to the deforestation of European forests since the Middle Ages and the consequent shortage of wood.
Since that time, massive emissions of greenhouse gases, environmental pollution, global warming and climate change began. For this reason, the Industrial Revolution has been taken as a dividing line between a before and after, starting point for the setting of the goals of reduction of CO2 emissions, as established in the Paris Agreement.
Currently, coal is used mainly in thermoelectric plants to generate electricity. It is also used in factories that require high energy consumption, such as the concrete and brick industry.