Poland had 2009 coal consumption of 53.85 million tonnes oil equivalent, 1.64% of the world total. Poland is one of the largest consumers of coal in Europe. Coal recently accounted for 93% of the country’s primary energy production and over 70% of total consumption. The greater part (55%) of coal-fuelled power generation is based on hard coal and the remainder is from lignite-fired capacity at mine-mouth captive power plants.
Coal is one of the world’s most plentiful energy resources, and its use is likely to quadruple by 2020. Coal occurs in a wide range of forms and qualities; but there are two broad categories: (a) hard coal, which includes coking coal, used to produce steel, and other bituminous and anthracite coals used for steam and power generation, and (b) brown coal (subbituminous and lignite), which is used mostly as onsite fuel. Coal has a wide range of moisture content (2–40%), sulfur content (0.2–8%), and ash content (5–40%). These can affect the value of the coal as a fuel and cause environmental problems in its use.
Raw coal may be sold as mined or may be processed in a beneficiation/washing plant to remove noncombustible materials (up to 45% reduction in ash content) and inorganic sulfur (up to 25% reduction). Coal beneficiation is based on wet physical processes such as gravity separation and flotation. Beneficiation produces two waste streams: fine materials that are discharged as a slurry to a tailings impoundment, and coarse material (typically greater than 0.5 millimeters) that is hauled away as a solid waste.