Volume 3 Issue 1

Volume 3 Issue 1

From the Editor

Full Steam Ahead to Improved Efficiency

By Liu Baowen, Cornerstone

Liu Baowen2 For well over a century the energy in coal and other fuels has been used to create steam for electricity generation. Today, due to a continuously expanding global population, increasing urbanization and industrialization, and energy poverty eradication efforts, energy demand is growing—fueled primarily by coal in rapidly developing countries. According to BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2014, coal’s share of global energy consumption climbed between 2000 and 2013, to 30.1%, the highest amount since 1970.

Cover Story

Upgrading the Efficiency of the World’s Coal Fleet to Reduce CO2 Emissions

By Ian Barnes, IEA Clean Coal Centre

Decorative-WaigaoqiaoCoal remains an important source of energy for the world, particularly for power generation. During the last decade the demand for coal has grown rapidly, as has the demand for gas, oil, nuclear, and renewable energy sources. Various projections for future growth in energy demand suggest that this trend will continue, dominated by coal use in the emerging economies, particularly China and India. Continuing pressure to cut CO2 emissions to mitigate the effects of climate change, specifically to limit the average rise in global temperature to between 2°C and 3°C, will require halving (from current levels) CO2 emissions by 2050.


Shenhua’s Evolution From Coal Producer to Clean Energy Supplier

By Ling Wen, Shenhua Group

China’s resource endowment has resulted in an energy mix dominated by coal—a fact unlikely to change for the foreseeable future. However, the continued large-scale extensive production and utilization of coal has resulted in considerable environmental impacts. If China’s current approach to coal production and utilization remains unchanged, such problems could worsen. Therefore, the Chinese government has placed an emphasis on environmentally friendly development in the future, actively reforming the methods used in the production and consumption of energy resources, improving the state of the natural environment, and generally working to increase sustainability.

Global Platform for Accelerating Coal Efficiency

By Benjamin Sporton, World Coal Association

PACE_Concept_Paper-1 The World Coal Association (WCA) recently published a concept paper on establishing a global Platform for Accelerating Coal Efficiency (PACE). The vision of PACE would be that, for countries choosing to use coal, the most efficient power plant technology possible is deployed. Its overriding objective would be to raise the global average efficiency of coal-fired power plants and therefore minimize the CO2 emissions that would otherwise be emitted, while maintaining legitimate economic development and poverty alleviation efforts.

Breaking Through the Safety Plateau: An Exclusive Interview With Bruce Watzman

By Holly Krutka, Cornerstone

Bruce Watzman Bruce Watzman is the U.S. National Mining Association’s Senior Vice President for Regulatory Affairs, tasked with managing the association’s overall regulatory policy activities to ensure their consistency with the business needs of the association’s membership. He has principal responsibility for overseeing the public policies issues in Congress and relevant regulatory agencies that advance the health and safety performance of the U.S. mining industry and manufacturers that provide equipment to the industry.

Energy Policy

What is on the Cards for the Coal Industry in 2015?

By Aleksandra Tomczak, World Coal Association


Last year the coal industry saw a number of important changes to policies and regulations, both nationally and internationally, that directly affect coal demand and the business of mining coal. Among the most important were the repeal of the carbon tax in Australia, the EPA’s CO2 emission limits on new and existing power plants in the U.S., the EU’s initial agreement on the 2030 energy and climate package, and the election of a new prime minister in India.

Navigating India’s Coal Maze

By A.M. Shah, Cornerstone

Indian parliment in New Delhi by night.

The year 2014 saw momentous changes in leadership in India as Narendra Modi took the office of Prime Minister, filled his top ministerial positions, and began to lay out his administration’s ambitions to the world. As was highlighted in a previous article for Cornerstone, while arguably challenging, the plans put forth for India’s energy sector reflected the broader hope expressed during the campaign that the country would break free of the roadblocks that had plagued the past. In the six months since that article was published, the groundwork for progress has been laid. However, major hurdles remain, especially in India’s critically important coal sector.

Strategic Analysis

Conceptualizing a Revolution in China’s Coal Utilization: An Exclusive Interview With Cen Kefa

By Li Xing, Cornerstone

Dr. Cen Kefa is one of the world’s foremost experts in the field of thermophysics engineering. Born in January 1935, Dr. Cen graduated from the Department of Power Engineering, Huazhong Engineering College (now the Huazhong University of Science and Technology) in 1956 and later received his doctorate from the Department of Power Engineering of Bauman Moscow State Technical University in 1962. He then accepted a professorship in the Department of Mechanical and Energy Engineering at Zhejiang University. He was appointed as an Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering in 1995. Currently Dr. Cen is President of the Institute for Thermal Power Engineering at Zhejiang University.

Setting the Benchmark: The World’s Most Efficient Coal-Fired Power Plants

By Dawn Santoianni, Tau Technical Communications LLC


International efforts to mitigate climate impacts have intensely scrutinized carbon emissions from the electricity sector. Coal, in particular, has been targeted as a source of emissions that could be reduced. The International Energy Agency recognizes that “coal is an important source of energy for world…we must find ways to use coal more efficiently and to reduce its environmental footprint.” With global coal demand projected to increase 15% through 2040, reducing carbon emissions from coal-fired electricity has become a policy focus in many countries as part of an overall strategy to reduce emissions.

Technology Frontiers

China Brings Online the World’s First 600-MW Supercritical CFB Boiler

By Yue Guangxi, Tsinghua University, Ling Wen, Shenhua Group, and Nie Li, Dongfang Boiler Group Co., Ltd

Circulating fluidized bed (CFB) combustion technology has proven to be the most economical and flexible technology to utilize low-rank coal, waste from coal washing, biomass, and other forms of waste for large-scale power generation. Over the last 30 years, CFB combustion technology has developed rapidly in China as coal is the principal energy resource and most coal in China is of low quality. However, conventional CFB combustion has not achieved high efficiency (i.e., supercritical or ultra-supercritical operation), so there has been a strong push in China to improve CFB power generation efficiency, and thus unit capacity, by increasing the steam parameters (i.e., temperature pressure).

Challenging Efficiency Limitations for Coal-Fired Power Plants

By Feng Weizhong, Shanghai Shenergy Energy Technology Co., Ltd


In today’s international community the strategic importance of energy efficiency and moving toward a low-carbon economy continues to gain prominence. In China, it is predicted that coal-fired power will remain the principal contributor to the power industry for the long term; therefore, today there is a strong focus on improving the efficiency of China’s coal-fired power plants.

Improving the Efficiency of Power Plants Firing High-Moisture Coal

By Nenad Sarunac, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Mark Ness and Charles W. Bullinger, Great River Energy

Low-rank, high-moisture coals constitute about 50% of U.S. and world coal reserves. Given the abundance of these low-cost coals, the use of high-moisture coal for power generation is already common and is growing. In the U.S. alone, plants burning high-moisture coals produce nearly a third of the coal-fired electric generation, according to the Department of Energy.

Helping to Seed a CCS Industry: The White Rose CCS Project

By Leigh Hackett, Capture Power Limited

The White Rose Carbon Capture and Storage Project (White Rose) is a proposal to build a new ultra-supercritical coal-fired oxy-fuel power plant up to 448 MWe (gross) with full carbon capture and storage (CCS) deployed from the outset. The plant will be located at the Drax Power Station site, near Selby in North Yorkshire in the UK, and will generate enough low-carbon electricity to supply the equivalent needs of over 630,000 homes. White Rose would be one of the first large-scale demonstration plants of its type in the world and the first oxy-fuel coal-fired CCS plant to be built at commercial scale, representing a core step toward the advancement of CCS technology globally.

Update on the 50-MWe Theunissen Underground Coal Gasification Project

By Johan van Dyk, North-West University, Johan F. Brand, African Carbon Energy, Christien Strydom and Frans Waanders, North-West University

South Africa is facing an energy crisis. Its net maximum generating capacity of ~42 GW (85% coal-based) is characterized by an aging fleet. About 75% of Eskom’s 20 GW of capacity is over 40 years old and set to be decommissioned starting in 2018. The current combined availability of the aging fleet is below 80%, leaving the country with zero operating margin. In addition, South Africa’s steady economic growth, together with its mass electrification program in rural areas, has contributed to an increase in power demand. Growth in demand, combined with the shortage of electricity supply and coal quality deterioration, has resulted in a critical energy crisis.


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.