Volume 4 Issue 3
From the Editor
By John Kessels, Cornerstone
The European Union’s recent ratification of the Paris Agreement and the road ahead to mitigate CO2 emissions will be a challenging task for Europe without recognizing the key role coal plays. Coal is one of the major pillars in power generation for Europe’s 500 million inhabitants. The European Union’s 28 member-states have the third largest energy market in the world. In 2015, coal provided a quarter of the power generated in the EU-28 and remains a secure and affordable energy source.
By Hans-Wilhelm Schiffer, World Energy Council
The European Union (EU-28) is one of the largest economies in the world, with a gross domestic product of €14,635 billion in 2015. It has 508 million inhabitants, or 7% of the world´s population. Coal has played, and still plays, an important role in covering the energy needs of the EU-28. This article reflects on the role of coal within Europe in the past, at present, and in the future.
By Andrew Purvis and Ingvild Ombudstvedt, GCCSI
As a result of the 21st Conference of the Parties in Paris in 2015, 178 parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted a goal to hold the increase in global temperature to “well below” 2°C, “pursue efforts” to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, and further achieve a balance between anthropogenic sinks and sources of greenhouse gases in the second half of the century. To achieve these targets, all emissions-mitigating measures and mechanisms will be needed. Efforts to decarbonize will be needed from both the parties to the agreement and the energy and industrial sectors. This will require increased momentum for energy efficiency and a continuing transition from fossil fuels to renewables. It also highlights the critical role of carbon capture and storage.
By Qian Minggao, China University of Mining and Technology
China is abundant in coal resources, but holds limited oil and natural gas resources. In the past decade, China’s GDP has grown 8–10% annually, and it is the second largest economy in the world. Nearly 70% of its economic growth and primary energy demand has been met by coal. The consumption of coal increased from 1 billion tons in 2000 to nearly 4.2 billion tons in 2014. This four-fold increase within 15 years is known as the coal sector’s “golden decade” (2000–2010).
By Michael Jones, Lignite Energy Council
North Dakota is part of the interior of the United States. Sometimes called the Peace Garden State because it shares a peaceful border with the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, the state is known for its sparse population and its abundant resources—productive farms and energy sources that help feed and power a vast region. However, its most important resource is the perseverance and ingenuity of its 750,000 residents.
By Jeffrey H. Michel, Independent Energy Consultant
Lignite, a low-grade fossil fuel in geological transition from peat to hard coal, is a mainstay of power generation and heating services between Central Europe and the Mediterranean Sea. Germany is the world’s largest lignite producer with an annual output of 178 million metric tons (Mt) in 2015, covering nearly a quarter of electricity demand. Although mining declined significantly after 1990 in the former East Germany and Czechoslovakia, most other countries have increased usage. Foremost is Turkey, with lignite power generation expected to increase by over 80% within three years.
By Öztürk Selvitop, Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources
Turkey opened its energy industry to the private sector as part of an overall shift toward a market economy in 2001, and, in that context, liberalization and restructuring studies in the energy sector were initiated. Prior to 2001, several models including BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer), BOO (Build-Own-Operate) and TOOR (Transfer of Operating Rights) were implemented to increase private-sector participation in the power sector. Since 2001 under the Electricity Market Law state-owned companies are allowed to finish ongoing construction of power plants and can continue to intervene and build additional new power generation plants if there is a threat to security of supply. As a result of the new law, the private sector has commissioned significant new generation capacity. In particular, new renewables-based generation has been built with support provided by the Renewables Law enacted in 2005.
By Lidia Gawlik and Eugeniusz Mokrzycki, Polish Academy of Sciences
The modern economy and the development of civilization are closely related to energy consumption. Fossil fuels (hard coal, lignite, oil, and natural gas) account globally for about 80% of the demand for primary energy sources.1 The dynamics of changes in the structure of the global fuel and energy balance in the past, present, and foreseeable future indicates continuing dependence on fossil fuels as a primary energy source. The share of coal in primary energy supply of the world has increased in recent years, influenced primarily by increased consumption in China, reaching its highest level since 1971: 29% in 2013 and 2014.1 Despite these facts, its role as a fuel of the future is often questioned. This is mainly due to climate change and emissions generated from the use of coal.
By Jon Gibbins and Hannah Chalmers, UK CCS Research Centre
At the Paris climate summit in December 2015, world leaders agreed to work to limit global climate change to 2°C and to try to achieve 1.5°C. To put the necessary cap on total cumulative greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, leaders also agreed on net-zero emissions; that is, there must be “a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century.”
By Jill Tietjen, Technically Speaking, Inc. and Russell Schussler, Georgia Transmission Corporation
For decades, coal was the dominant fuel for electric power generation in the U.S. Although advances in natural gas generation technology allowed natural gas to become increasingly competitive with coal and other generation options, regulatory constraints and market influences drove coal to remain the overwhelming source for baseload power throughout most of the 20th century. However, in the early 21st century the advent of horizontal drilling as an adjunct to hydraulic fracturing (fracking) significantly reduced the price as well as the price volatility of natural gas. These changes, combined with increased environmental regulation for coal-fired generation, have led to natural gas surpassing coal in terms of net U.S. generation.
By Nenad Sarunac, University of North Carolina, Charles Bullinger, Mark Ness, Sandra Broekema, and Ye Yao, Great River Energy
Pulverized coal combustion (PCC) dominates power generation and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.1 Due to aging of the existing fleet of PCC plants and global increase in electricity demand, especially in emerging economies, a fleet of new highly efficient PCC plants is likely to be deployed.
By Michalis Agraniotis, Malgorzata Stein Brzozowska, Christian Bergins, Torsten Buddenberg, and Emmanouil Kakaras, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Europe
The EU energy strategy for 2020 and 2050 sets specific targets for the transition of the current European energy system and energy market. The aim of the strategy is to encourage a low-carbon energy system with decreased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (by 50% compared with 1990 levels until 2050), increased energy efficiency, and a larger share of renewable energy sources (RES). All these developments set new challenges in the conventional thermal power sector. Under these new market conditions, modern, highly efficient natural gas combined-cycle (NGCC) power plants cannot be competitive in several countries and lose market share. Hard coal and lignite power plants are often requested by grid operators to stay in operation as the backbone of the electricity generation system and to increase their operational flexibility, in order to cover the increasing fluctuations of the residual load due to the intermittent RES.
By Malgorzata Wiatros-Motyka, IEA Clean Coal Centre
The Łagisza power plant in Będzin, Poland, is home to the world’s first 460-MW supercritical circulating fluidized bed boiler (CFB), which remains the largest of its kind outside China. Since beginning commercial operation in June 2009, the plant has attracted considerable interest from all over the world. Experience gained from its design, construction, and operation has been a valuable stepping stone in further developing the technology and implementing it in other countries.
By Jinder Jow, National Institute of Clean-and-Low-Carbon Energy
China’s primary energy resources are fossil-based fuels: oil, natural gas, and coal, with coal being the least expensive. From a material aspect, coal has both organic and inorganic components, quite different from oil and natural gas which have only organic materials. This article shows the process of a coal-fired power plant and its by-products—from coal mine to electricity or heat. The by-products are (1) NOx, sulfur oxides, Hg, particulate matter (PM), and CO2; (2) wastewater; and (3) fly ash, bottom ash, and flue-gas desulfurized gypsum when an external desulfurization process is used. The solid by-product with the largest volume is fly ash. The fly ash retains the inorganic components of coal after combustion.
The content in Cornerstone does not necessarily reflect the views of the World Coal Association or its members.
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