Since the 1970’s, coal has been progressively phased out by gas and electricity. The coal mining industry peaked in the early 1900’s. Around the 1950’s coal reserves throughout the UK started to become depleted, and the rise of nuclear power contributed largely to the decline of coal.
Unfortunately in my opinion its not being phased out quickly enough. The production of power through coal is one of the most environmentally devastating practices that we have today. The carbon produced in firing a coal fired plant is incredibly harmful to humans in surrounding areas and the environment everywhere. Couple that with the mining practice of mountain top removal that we can’t seem to keep from happening and we are looking at one of the worst things that man can do to the environment. Unfortunately its going to take a lot of money and possibly the introduction of more nuclear power to the grid to get rid of it so I think we are stuck with it for many years to come.
jbenjami28’s answer may apply to the UK, although the UK still consumes about 70 million tons of coal per year. UK coal consumption has declined a lot since 1980 (from 140 million tons to 60 in 1999) but has climbed slowly but steadily since the late 1990s.
In the US, electricity derived from coal has been around 45-50% of electricity for some time, and in fact coal consumption has increased steadily in the US, from about 700 million tons in 1980 to about 1100 million tons in 2008. It is not the case in the US that use of coal for electric power is declining.
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