Latest Buzz...


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Coal for India, China and Other Developing Nations

The Future is Better Than It Seems

"There is no reason for developing countries to burden themselves with out-dated power generation technology that is a great handicap to developed countries."
Garrett portable steam engine was made in England in 1923
This Garrett portable steam engine was made in England in 1923
Concerns over the future use of coal are justified but not for the reasons commentators have identified:
According to the IEA report, developing nations will largely drive future coal growth. China and India combined are expected to account for more than 90 percent of the increase in global coal use over the next five years.
The IEA report–like WRI’s recent coal analysis–offers troubling projections of an increasingly coal-dependent future. Energy producers need to decide–soon–if they are going to lock-into this course or opt for a lower-carbon future. (New Coal Report Underscores The Urgent Need For Global Clean Energy Development, Ailun Yang | December 20, 2012)


Mr Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, blamed China and other developing countries, that have huge reserves of coal and want to continue using fossil fuels to grow, for failing to back plans for the green economy. (Rio+20: Nick Clegg blames China for 'disappointing text', Louise Gray | June 21, 2012)

The bad news is that the coal industry is attempting to foist antiquated and obsolete technology for coal-fired power stations on the developing world. This is an unscrupulous marketing strategy.

It mirrors the conduct of Canada in banning the use of asbestos in Canada because of serious health risks and then continuing to export asbestos along with asbestos-related disease and health costs to India.

Developing countries are taking positive steps to address health risks and environmental degradation caused by harmful products and technologies -
China Increases Asbestos Restrictions by Laurie Kazan-Allen, International Ban Asbestos Secretariat
China adopted a new industry standard in November 2010 prohibiting the use of asbestos in siding and wall materials for construction. This follows China banning the use of asbestos in automotive friction materials in 2003 and its banning in 2005 of the import and export of amphibole asbestos, including amosite and crocidolite. (Read more ...)

Defence, pollution to dominate Chinese parliament by Stephen McDonell, ABC News
In the run up to this congress, pollution has been a major issue for everyday Chinese citizens.
Air quality in the Chinese capital, Beijing, seems to be deteriorating again after some improvements following the 2008 Olympics. (Read more ...)

The issue is NOT the use of coal by developing countries. The unscrupulous conduct of developed countries is the construction of coal-fired power stations in developing countries. These lock the developing countries into reliance on inefficient and expensive uses of coal. This old power generating technology uses coal very inefficiently. The result is that the costs of power will be unreasonably high. In the event that carbon capture and storage technology is eventually required and is installed this will further reduce the efficiency of coal-fired power stations, increase the cost of electricity in developing countries, and increase demand for coal exports from developed countries including Australia and the USA.

Developing countries are in the advantageous position of being able to skip one generation of inefficient, out-dated power generation technology and move directly to new high-efficiency, cleaner and cheaper power generation technology.
Coal / Biomass conversion to Substitute Natural Gas by Greatpoint Energy process
Coal / Biomass conversion to Substitute Natural Gas
by Greatpoint Energy process

Coal can be used to deliver 1-1/2 to 2 times more useful energy with newer power generation technology that is increasingly used throughout developed countries:

  • The first step is to convert coal to natural gas, synthesis gas or hydrogen. 
  • The power generation technology that is available NOW and which developing countries should demand  
    1. for synthetic natural gas - combined cycle gas turbine ("CCGT") power stations for centralised power generation and combined heat and power power stations for distributed co-generation and tri-generation applications.
      As concerns about CO2 emissions grow, coal-fired power plants are increasingly being replaced with cleaner energy – and new GE technology is aiding the transition.

      The FlexEfficiency 60 Plant is the most flexible and efficient power plant of its kind, capable of reaching greater than 61 percent thermal efficiency in combined cycle.

      Six of the larger 7F 7-series gas turbines will be shipped to the Chubu Electric Power plant in Japan. Capable of reaching a world’s best 62 percent thermal efficiency, the plant will produce more than 2,300 megawatts in combined-cycle operation.
    2. for synthesis gas - integrated gasification combined cycle ("IGCC") 
      In November 2007, Duke Energy received approval from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to build a cleaner-coal integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plant at Duke Energy’s former 160-megawatt Edwardsport Station in Knox County, Indiana.

      The 618-megawatt IGCC facility will be one of the cleanest and most efficient coal-fired power plants in the world. It will emit less sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulates than the plant it replaces – while providing more than 10 times the electric power.

      Coal is one of the most practical alternatives for addressing Duke Energy’s additional baseload power needs in Indiana. Building the Edwardsport IGCC plant ensures that Duke Energy customers in Indiana will continue to have fairly priced, reliable energy that will help our economy grow. The project is expected to begin commercial operations by early 2013.
  • These convert the available energy in gas fuels-sourced from coal, biomass and natural gas-to useful energy with an efficiency from 60 to 98 percent. 
  • Coal-fired power stations can achieve only a fraction of this efficiency. Add carbon capture and storage equipment to coal-fired power stations and their already bad performance becomes woeful. 
There is no reason for developing countries to burden themselves with the out-dated power generation technology that is a great handicap to developed countries.