Volume 2 Issue 4

Volume 2 Issue 4

From the Editor

Finding Common Ground

By Holly Krutka

Krutka HeadshotRenewables and coal are the two fastest growing forms of energy today. The growth of these energy sources is particularly prominent in developing countries, where most expansion in electricity capacity is occurring. Coal and renewables often require less upfront investment, less infrastructure, and are more widely distributed globally than other energy options, making them ideal choices for regions that need to add electricity capacity in the near term.

Cover Story

The Energy Frontier of Combining Coal and Renewable Energy Systems

By Stephen Mills

MillDecorativePhotoCorrectedSizedThe world is undoubtedly hungry for energy and this hunger is growing. There are strong incentives to develop improved sources of energy. By 2040, the world’s population will have reached nearly nine billion.1 All of these people will need to be housed, fed, and have the opportunity to make a living; this inevitably means that much more energy is going to be needed. By 2040, global energy demand will be about a third greater than current levels.2


The Rise of Electricity: Offering Longevity, Improved Living Standards, and a Healthier Planet

By Frank Clemente

Opening Image In 1972, The United Nations’ Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment issued the following Declaration: “Both aspects of man’s environment, the natural and the man-made, are essential to his well-being and to the enjoyment of basic human rights, the right to life itself.”1 In other words, people are part of the environment too. The Stockholm Declaration stressed that vast numbers of people continue to live far below the minimum conditions required for a decent human existence, deprived of adequate food and clothing, shelter and education, health and sanitation.

Energy Policy

Understanding the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative

By Patrick Falwell and Brad Crabtree

In May 2014 Senator Jay Rockefeller introduced legislation incorporating the main principal of the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative. (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Since 2011, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) and the Great Plains Institute (GPI) have convened the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative (NEORI). Bringing together leaders from industry, the environmental community, labor, and state governments, NEORI has worked to advance carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR) as a key component of U.S. energy security, economic, and environmental strategy.

Developing Country Needs Are Critical to a Global Climate Agreement

By Benjamin Sporton


As another round of climate talks approaches, recent headlines have highlighted the critical role developing countries play in achieving a climate agreement—and they are. Concerned about the restrictions it might place on their efforts to grow their economies and eradicate poverty, many developing countries are cautious about what a future global agreement on climate change might mean. With one billion people living in extreme poverty in addition to a similar number with incredibly low standards of living, it is hardly surprising that poverty eradication ranks number one on the list of priorities for developing country governments.1

Strategic Analysis

The Flexibility of German Coal-Fired Power Plants Amid Increased Renewables

By Hans-Wilhelm Schiffer

Opening Image

German energy policy is determined by different ambitious targets. That is especially true as far as the electricity sector is concerned. The main characteristics of electricity-sector policy are a complete phasing out of nuclear energy, the transition to a power supply based mainly on renewable energy, and the reduction of energy consumption by continuously increasing efficiency. The main purpose of these changes is to reach a nearly CO2-free power supply by 2050. The central challenges are keeping the power system stable and secure while maintaining consumer electricity prices at a competitive, affordable level.

Toward Carbon-Negative Power Plants With Biomass Cofiring and CCS

By Janne Kärki and Antti Arasto

Karki Opening Photo

The goal of CO2 emissions reductions and renewable energy incentives have led some power plant operators to broaden their fuel palette to include various carbon-neutral biomass fuels. Biomass can be carbon neutral because it binds carbon from the atmosphere that is then released when it is burned, minimizing net emissions.

Evolution of Cleaner Solid Fuel Combustion

By Christopher Long and Peter Valberg

Although uncommon in developed countries, solid fuels—including wood, charcoal, coal,A dung, and crop residues—are burned domestically by billions of people across the world for space heating, lighting, and cooking. For example, it is estimated that, as of 2010, approximately 41% of the world’s households (approximately 2.8 billion people) rely mainly on solid fuels for cooking.1 A comprehensive assessment of respiratory risks from household air pollution recently concluded that the health of one in three people worldwide is at risk because of exposure to emissions from traditional household solid fuel combustion.2

Technology Frontiers

Making Coal Flexible: Getting From Baseload to Peaking Plant

By Jaquelin Cochran, Debra Lew, and Nikhil Kumar


Power systems in the 21st century—with higher penetration of low-carbon energy, smart grids, and other emerging technologies—will favor resources that have low marginal costs and provide system flexibility. Such flexibility includes the ability to cycle on and off as well as run at low minimum loads to complement variations in output from high penetration of renewable energy. With a lack of general experience in the industry, questions remain about both the fate of coal-fired power plants in this scenario and whether they can continue to operate cost-effectively if they cycle routinely.

Geothermal Assisted Power Generation for Thermal Power Plants

By Nigel Bean and Josephine Varney

Opening Figure

The recent push to reduce carbon emissions from the electricity sector encompasses common, immediately available approaches such as increasing power plant efficiency and increasing the deployment of renewables. The opportunity now exists to accomplish these goals simultaneously through the use of geothermal energy to increase the power output, and decrease the carbon intensity, of thermal power plants.

Shenhua’s Development of Digital Mines

By Han Jianguo


Digital mines are based on the innovative application of well-established, advanced information technologies to the areas of geological resource exploration, mine design and construction, safe and efficient production, operations, and decision-making. Digital mining allows for all aspects of mining to be evaluated simultaneously using digitized displays. The digital mine system can respond to, process, and utilize data to enable integration of different mining processes so as to achieve unified, centralized management of mining operations.

Direct Carbon Fuel Cells: An Ultra-Low Emission Technology for Power Generation

By Christopher Munnings, Sarbjit Giddey and Sukhvinder Badwal


Energy, particularly electrical power, is one of the most critical components of any modern industrial economy with most economies being based on low-cost abundant energy supplies. In this regard, coal continues to be the primary energy source of choice for electrical power generation. Coal can be stored easily and converted into electrical power on demand regardless of season or local weather conditions. However, conventional coal-fired power generation can result in high emissions of CO2 and other pollutants. These can be captured or neutralized; however, in some cases this can greatly increase cost.

Exploring the Status of Oxy-fuel Technology Globally and in China

By Zheng Chuguang


Oxy-fuel technology is characterized by the use of pure oxygen or oxygen-enriched gas mixtures to replace air during combustion of (most often) fossil fuels. After the fuel is burned, flue gas with a high concentration of CO2 is generated, which facilitates the capture of CO2. First proposed by Abraham in 1982, the purpose of the technology was to produce CO2 for enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR).1 As concerns related to climate change have intensified, the need to control CO2 emissions (as the principal greenhouse gas) has also gradually increased in prominence. As a technology option with great potential for reducing CO2 emissions, oxy-fuel combustion has become a focus of research worldwide.2

Global News

Movers & Shakers

Mitsubishi Corporation announced the opening of the Caval Ridge Coal Mine in Queensland, Australia. Run by BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA), Caval Ridge is a new open-cut mine located in the northern Bowen Basin in Central Queensland that has the capacity to produce 5.5 million tonnes per year of high-quality metallurgical coal for a mine life of about 60 years.

International Outlook

With the passage of the Emissions Reduction Fund, the Australian government has taken a step toward meeting its greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal of 5% below 2000 levels by 2020. The Emissions Reduction Fund is the centerpiece of the Direct Action plan, which replaced the Carbon Pricing Mechanism repealed in mid-2014.

Recent Select Publications

Mercury Control for Coal-Derived Gas Streams — Wiley-VCH — This newly published textbook covers technologies for the detection, capture, and regulation of mercury evolved from the combustion or gasification of coal.

Key Meetings & Conferences

Globally there are numerous conferences and meetings geared toward the coal and energy industries. The table below highlights a few such events. If you would like your event listed in Cornerstone, please contact the Executive Editor at cornerstone@wiley.com.

From the WCA

The World Coal Association (WCA) and Assocarboni jointly held a workshop in Rome on 18 November, bringing together global energy and environment leaders to discuss the future global role of coal, practical action that can be taken to reduce emissions, and the energy challenges facing policymakers in Europe.


Letters to the Editor

To submit a letter, please email cornerstone@wiley.com.


The content in Cornerstone does not necessarily reflect the views of the World Coal Association or its members.