Last week, London hosted the most significant and extensive conference on Underground Coal Gasification ever held. Over 100 delegates from 19 countries heard speakers from around the globe updating on projects and Technology in China, India, Australia, USA and Europe.
The conference was held at the London headquarters of ABN AMRO and organised by the UCG Partnership, and included major industry players, government and academia.
Underground Coal Gasification is a method of converting un-worked coal into a combustible gas, which can be used for industrial heating, power generation or the manufacture of hydrogen, synthetic natural gas or diesel fuel. The gas can be processed to remove its CO2 content, thereby providing a source of clean energy with minimal greenhouse gas emissions.
World Energy Consumption in 2004* breaks down into 41% from oil, 23% from natural gas, 23% from coal,6% from nuclear, 4% from hydro and 3% from renewables.
However, world proven reserves 2005** has oil accounting for 19%, gas with 17% and coal with a massive 64%. Add total reserves to total resources and coal accounts for 95% of the fossil fuel energy content of the planet*** – hundreds of years of energy.
Delegates heard that UCG represents a real answer to the energy gap issue since UCG provides security of supply and a low cost clean energy with substantial volume. Russia, Australia, USA, India, China, South Africa and the UK all have projects developed or being developed with plans being made for further studies in Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Ireland and Pakistan.
The technology of UCG is now ready for scale-up to large projects to produce syngas for power generation and coal to liquids. Security of supply, the potential for CO2 capture and storage, the lower costs of gas production and its rapid development to fill the energy gap are the principal motivators for the vast increase in activity in UCG.
The conference urged the UCG Partnership, which represents the industry and provides public information on UCG, to continue to urge Governments to provide a workable framework in which UCG projects can flourish and develop quickly. This includes an easier licensing, a simpler environmental and planning framework, risk management and the removal of unnecessary bureaucratic red tape. Encouragement from the very top of Government is needed urgently.
***AAPG and BP