Advanced coal mining techniques could be the key to carbon relief
Despite so many developed countries talking about reducing their dependencies on coal and even phasing out coal power over the next decade or two, the fact remains that coal is going to be around for a while. Many developing countries still rely on coal as one of their main sources of energy and despite accords in place within developed countries to provide loans for renewable energy, coal is still big business.
We all know that coal is not a clean energy but that doesn’t mean it can’t be made cleaner. New technologies in mining and processing can help to reduce emissions. Following the Paris Agreement, 22 countries have submitted plans that include a role for advanced coal technologies.
A large part of this is carbon capture, a technology that could reduce emissions and increase output. The barrier to this technology is governmental focus on renewable energy. While governments acknowledge that carbon capture and storage are important for the industry, the money just isn’t being funnelled into the necessary research.
A 10-megawatt power station in Chennai, India, is currently using a system developed by Carbon Clean Solutions Limited (CCSL) to generate electricity on a commercial basis while capturing 97 percent of its carbon emissions. Although only in practice on a small power station, CCSL is confident the technology is scalable.
The material taken out of the Chennai plant’s emissions is made into soda ash, then sold to make a range of products from detergents to glass, rather than being returned back to the mine.
Many industry organisations are keen to see carbon capture take off but all agree that it won’t happen without the backing of governmental policy.
Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition
The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.
The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).
This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.
In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.
The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.