UCG offers extensive advantages over traditional coal mining, these include:
- Limited environmental impact:
- No disruption of fauna or flora
- No excavations
- No water contamination
- Ground subsidence of approx. 1-2 cm over 100 years
- More efficient mining (extraction) technique:
- No coal handling
- Less pollution
- Increased economical yield:
- Small aboveground footprint, means the majority of the land can still be used for agricultural activities
- Previously un-minable, stranded, valueless resources can now be extracted and contribute to the economy
- Safety: No underground personnel
South Africa is facing an energy crisis. Eskom alone cannot supply sufficient electricity to meet demand and as a result the South African economy is growing at a reduced rate as there isn’t an adequate supply of electricity for new industries to be established. In an attempt to meet the demand for electricity, NERSA and the Department of Energy has strategically decided to make use of IPPs (Independent Power Producers) to supplement the current supply.
Despite South Africa’s vast coal resources Eskom has strategically decided to move away from coal powered electricity generation due to the environmental impact of coal mining. However the alternative energy sources namely nuclear and renewables (wind and solar), are significantly more expensive than coal powered electricity generation. This will result in increased electricity prices and a resultant downturn in industrial development in South Africa.
Cheap energy is essential to South Africa’s economic growth and the future is very promising for IPPs that can produce electricity competitively.
UCG can provide Eskom and IPPs with an ideal solution for providing cheap electricity from coal, with a limited environmental impact. Thus UCG offers an excellent value proposition for the South African economy and should become the preferred source for power generation.