A working party has been set up by UK business and energy minister, Michael Fallon, to investigate the potential of coal gasification to be used to take advantage of coal seams on Britain’s coast.
After meeting with one of the providers of coal gasification technology, Michael Fallon revealed he has set up a working part to investigate the process. Sources close to the minister said that he saw “exciting potential” for the technique, which has a lower carbon footprint than burning the coal directly.
Algy Cluff, CEO of Cluff Natural Resources, met with Fallon as the company explores commercial models for extracting gas from the coal seams which lie on Britain’s coast.
“Underground coal gasification (UCG) is in its infancy and I am keen to create a regulatory structure that helps those with ambitions exploit our home-grown energy sources,” Fallon said. “This can only be done if protection of the environment and health and safety remain paramount.”
“The coal Authority is in the lead as the freehold owner of the coal resource and licensing body for the exploration of coal. I am setting up a working group involving the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Coal Authority to assess the state of the UCG development and the licensing processes,” Fallon continued. “[The working party] will also consider the interaction between UCG and other technologies, such as shale gas and coal bed methane. I look forward to considering its findings.”
Estimates by the British Geological Survey (BGS) suggest that because the coal seams off Britain’s coast are so thick, there could be up to 17 billion t that can be exploited for Britain’s energy needs for the next 200 years.
While fracking has been met with considerable opposition in the UK, UCG is seen as less controversial since it occurs offshore. The BGS also explains that UCG has greater environmental benefits than other fossil fuels: “The gas contains both methane and hydrogen and can be processed into a high-quality diesel. This syn-diesel has greater environmental benefits than diesel derived from oil, since it has a higher octane value and produces less nitrogen oxides and particulates when used.”
Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson
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