Volume 3 Issue 2

Volume 3 Issue 2

From the Editor

Urban Centers as Vehicles for Societal Development

By Holly Krutka, Cornerstone

Krutka HeadshotAround the world, people are moving to urban centers in unprecedented numbers. As pointed out in this issue’s cover story, over the next 15 years the global population is expected to increase by 1.1 billion with nearly all of this growth concentrated in cities. The United Nations (UN) projects that over 6.3 billion people will live in urban centers by 2050. While the challenges experienced by many fast-growing cities should not be understated, people are moving to cities in droves because of the chance to improve their quality of life—economically, socially, and environmentally.

Cover Story

Urbanization, City Growth, and the New United Nations Development Agenda

By Barney Cohen, United Nations

cover imageIn September 2015, member states of the United Nations (UN) will meet in New York to finalize a new global development agenda that will guide the international community’s efforts to eradicate poverty, reverse global trends toward unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, and protect and manage the environment over the next 15 years.


The High Cost of Divestment

By Benjamin Sporton, World Coal Association

shutterstock_262127453 Since 2012, when 350.org launched its “Fossil Free” campaign, there has been an increasing global campaign to divest fossil fuel assets, particularly coal. The approach has been supported by some institutions that have divested, while rejected by others. For instance, in February 2015, despite an expert panel supporting continued investment, NBIM, the manager of Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, announced it had divested a number of fossil fuel companies from its portfolio.

Energy Policy

South Africa’s Road to Growth is Paved With Coal

By Nikki Fisher, Anglo American Coal


South Africa is already largely urbanized. Today, nearly two thirds of South Africans live in urban centers. Although the rate of urbanization is slower in South Africa than some other emerging economies, it is projected that 77% of the country’s population will reside in urban areas by 2050. Energy from coal is intertwined with urbanization in South Africa in two important ways. First, in urban centers, baseload coal-fired power plants provide electricity to support much-needed industrial growth and the employment opportunities created. Second, coal-fired power plants have directly supported the development of several urban centers, especially in the Mpumalanga region.

Driving India’s Next Wave of Urbanization

By T.G. Sitharam and Jaya Dhindaw, Indian Institute of Science


The phenomenon of “urbanization”, or population shift from rural to urban areas, is occurring at an unprecedented rate in India. According to the 1901 census, the population residing in urban areas in India was 11.4%. This number steadily increased post-independence and by 2011 had reached 31.2%, with continued urbanization on the horizon. Based on the growth rates observed between 2001 and 2011, by the end of 2015 the population of Mumbai is projected to stand at 25 million, Delhi and Kolkata at 16 million each, while Chennai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad will each have 10 million residents.

Strategic Analysis

Transitioning Urbanization, Energy, and Economic Growth in China

By Lei Qiang and Ning Chenghao, Shenhua Science and Technology Research Institute


Throughout history, instances of societal paradigm shifts have occurred as widespread urbanization and industrialization have rapidly taken hold. Such transitions have demanded a shift in energy sources, the amount of energy consumed, and the way in which energy is used. Perhaps the most well-known historical example took place in late 18th–early 19th century England as cities grew rapidly and the regional society shifted from one founded on agriculture to one based on industry. Higher density energy sources, primarily coal, displaced biomass and the Industrial Revolution was born.

ASEAN Urbanization and the Growing Role of Coal

By Jude Clemente, JTC Energy Research Associates, LLC


Although global economic growth may have stalled recently, a number of regions characterized by clusters of emerging economies are poised to become drivers for a renewed wave of growth. One of the most prominent such areas can be found in Southeast Asia, where regional cooperation and a desire to improve standards of living could strengthen the urbanization and industrialization already in progress.

Urbanization, Steel Demand, and Raw Materials

By Mike Elliott, Ernst & Young


Urbanization and steel intensity go hand in hand. In the preliminary stages of a country’s urbanization, steel intensity increases with the need for new infrastructure for improved connectivity, efficient use of natural resources, and creation of sophisticated transport hubs. Increased population density means taller buildings requiring more high-quality steel. Demand for machinery also increases as more of the population urbanizes to find employment industries that are steel-intensive.

The Rise and Potential Peak of Cement Demand in the Urbanized World

By Peter Edwards, Global Cement Magazine


Cement is the binder that holds together urban centers around the world. To make it, limestone, sand, and other additives are combined in rotating kilns at temperatures of up to 1450°C. This process yields a granular intermediate known as clinker, which is then ground in mills to produce cement powder. The final cement mix will include around 5% gypsum and may also include other non-clinker mineral by-products like limestone, slag, and ash from coal-fired power plants. The process of making clinker, and hence cement, demands around 100–350 kg of coal per tonne of clinker. Thus, the cement industry has historically been a major user of fossil fuels, especially coal.

Technology Frontiers

Cogeneration Plants Close to Town Get the Most Out of Coal in Germany

By Stefan Schroeter, Cornerstone Contributing Author


An increasingly urbanized global community affords greater opportunities for the most efficient means to extract energy from coal and other fuels: combined heat and power (CHP) plants. CHP is not new. Some of the world’s first power plants were CHP facilities and they continue to be deployed globally today. Plant size, electricity output, and heat provided are site specific and the electricity and heat output can vary throughout the year as more heating is needed during cooler months. Germany is an example of a country that has been relying successfully for decades on a mix of large and small CHP facilities, many of which are coal fired.

Shenhua Guohua’s Application of Near-Zero Emissions Technologies for Coal-Fired Power Plants

By Wang Shumin, Shenhua Guohua Power Company

6-installing turbine rotor in Shenhua Guohua  Suizhong power plant

As of the end of 2014, China had an overall power generation capacity of 1360 GW, of which fossil-based power made up 66.7% and non-fossil power contributed the remaining 33.3%. China is rich in coal, with relatively small oil and gas reserves. In fact, coal accounts for about 90% of the country’s total energy resources. As such, coal likely will remain the principal primary energy source for the foreseeable future. Although coal-fired power plants have provided the energy necessary to support the rapid and steady growth of China’s economy, these plants also contribute to emissions affecting air quality, including particulate matter (PM), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and nitrogen oxides (NOx).

Ashworth Gasifier-Combustor for Emissions Control From Coal-Fired Power Plants

By Robert Ashworth and Mark Becker, ClearStack Power, LLC


The growing role of coal is especially prominent in many emerging economies where rapid urbanization and industrialization are driving the growth in energy demand. In fact, the equivalent of one 500-MW coal-fired power plant has come online every three days since 2010. The president of the World Bank has said that coal will be essential to helping Africa meet its demand for power and alleviate “energy apartheid”. Several nations leading the world in economic growth as well as some developed countries are relying heavily on coal-fueled electricity.

Underground Coal Gasification: An Overview of an Emerging Coal Conversion Technology

By Cliff Mallett, Underground Coal Gasification Association

Fossil fuels undeniably remain the world’s principal source of energy. They have underpinned the growth of industry and standards of living for the last 300 years. However, finding ways to continue to utilize fossil fuels in a low-carbon and otherwise environmentally-friendly manner is a global priority.

Carbon Energy Delivers Innovations in Underground Coal Gasification

By Morné Engelbrecht, Carbon Energy Limited

EngelbrechtDecorative Image 2

After decades on the fringes of world energy production, advancements in underground coal gasification (UCG) are proving the process can deliver high-quality syngas on a commercial scale with limited impact on the surrounding environment, at a lower cost than current coal-to-gas production in Australia.


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.