Alan Thompson reports on the proceedings of the 10th European Conference on Coal Research and its Applications (ECCRIA10), which took place in September at the University of Hull in the UK.
On 15 September, delegates gathered in the Business School at the University of Hull for ECCRIA 10. Organised by the Coal Research Forum (CRF), this two and a half day biennial event featured 80 oral presentations by speakers from 15 different countries. The conference was opened and the attendees were welcomed to Hull by the conference chairman, Prof. John Patrick from the University of Nottingham. On behalf of the host university, Prof. Stephen Kelly, dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering. echoed Prof. Patrick’s welcome and described some of the history of the University of Hull and its exciting plans for the future.
Keynote address: the future of coal
The keynote address was given by Prof. Mohamed Pourkashanian, head of the of the University of Leeds' Energy Technology and Innovation Initiative and director of the Pilot-Scale Advanced Capture Technology (PACT) national facilities. His talk, “Future power generation from coal in the UK – policy, technologies and supporting research”, and began by asking whether there was anyone in the lecture theatre who did not believe that coal had a future. Not surprisingly there were none.
Prof. Pourkashanian then asked if anyone knew how much of the current generation capacity was being produced by coal. It may have come as a shock to some that it was still at the relatively high level of 35% at that time on that day. With coal being responsible for more than one third of the current generating capacity, Prof. Pourkashanian said he would show how and why it does indeed have a future.
The important factors affecting the energy stability of the UK were identified, namely coal availability and security of supply, its cost and environmental impact. Coal is the most widely used energy source for generating electricity in the world, including currently in the UK, where coal generated more electricity than any other source in 2012 and 2013. Coal is also a secure source of energy: it is readily acquired from a number of mostly politically-stable suppliers and can be safely stockpiled in large quantities. Coal plants have a high level of availability and controllability and can deliver electrical power as required to meet consumer demand.
Technical innovations have overcome most previous objections to coal use due to environmental emissions, but the problem of CO2 emissions is still outstanding. The UK is, however, in a relatively strong position to take benefit of the energy security advantages of coal since it has ready access to secure geological storage for CO2 in the North Sea. The amount of storage is probably sufficient for centuries of use and, being offshore, the challenges in getting public acceptance for its use appear to be low. In addition to the enactment of appropriate government policy and electricity market and other regulatory measures questions of plant location and technology choice also need to be established.
The choice of coal conversion technology is also complicated by the need to incorporate CO2 capture as well as another new requirement, that is, to operate in a UK electricity system with a high amount of intermittent renewable generation, namely wind.
Prof. Pourkashanian also considered a number of coal and biomass conversion routes and how innovation may achieve cost reductions in their use under future UK energy market conditions. These were air-fired supercritical coal plant with post-combustion capture; oxy-fuel supercritical coal plant; coal gasification with conventional gas turbine combined cycle plants and unconventional power cycles using coal.
The keynote address provided the basis for the conference’s central message: that demonstration of technical and economical features of carbon capture, utilisation and storage at RD&D scale will give confidence to the power sector, policy makers and the public that a practical carbon mitigation control option exists for the most widely available energy form at low cost to be used to meet the nation's energy needs in an environmentally acceptable manner.
The article continues here.
Written by Alan Thompson. Edited by Jonathan Rowland.
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcoal.com/coal/24102014/world-coal-eccria10-comes-to-hull-1-coal1446/