The Prospects For Coal Gasification

Jackson, Arnold Terence (1980). The Prospects For Coal Gasification. MPhil thesis The Open University.



The prospects for coal gasification are considered in the light of ever increasing problems of high prices and uncertain supplies of fossil fuels throughout the world. A detailed analysis of the supply and demand for coal and gas in Britain now and in the next decade is an essential part of this work. This needs to be set in the overall context of world supply and demand. The consequences of social and political changes on energy supply are stressed as well as the consequences of technical changes.

A review of the present position of coal gasification technology, both surface technology methods and underground coal gasification methods is given in some detail. The advantages of coal gasification compared with electricity production such as energy efficiency, capital cost and environmental impact are considered. The relatively poor position of the coal industry in relation to future markets for coal and the uncertainty surrounding ultimate natural gas reserves are two important factors which are relevant to the development of coal gasification.

The domestic gas market is studied in some detail to determine the gas penetration within the various sectors and house types within this market. Future gas demand in the domestic market will be quite different from that in the 1970's. This will be due to several factors including price elasticity, insulation, low energy houses, housing policy, effect of high fuel prices on individual lifestyle etc., and each of these are considered in some detail.

A close survey of the impact of various other heating vectors in the domestic sector is given to determine their future effect on gas demand. It is concluded that even allowing for some development of heat pump, CHP and other newer technologies, their effect on reducing future gas demand will be limited. There will remain a need for a substantial gas supply even when North Sea supplies decline. If this is linked to the need for the development of alternative coal markets and the need to promote the nuclear electricity plant programme, then a credible case for coal gasification emerges.

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