Renewed interest in UCG technology has recently occurred in most coal producing regions of the world, led largely by Australia where entrepreneurial companies are harnessing the potential for power generation and gas to liquids manufacturer.
Other important regions of activity include New Zealand, South Africa, China, USA, Eastern Europe, India Indonesia, Vietnam, Pakistan and the UK, which has recently issued a number of licenses to exploit UCG offshore.
In India, high ash content of 35% to 50% has major technological limitations for coal development; UCG is especially suitable for low-rank coals like ligniteâ€™s and sub-bituminous coal, which produce less heat and more Co2 when burned. In addition, the UCG process is an effective generator of large quantities of hydrogen, now in demand as a feedstock for the chemical industry and as an alternative fuel for vehicles.
Studies have been growing in pace and number over the past few years, new feasibility studies, research and sites identified as suitable for UCG operations.The rate of new projects continues to increase and now includes commercial scale projects.
China is believed to have conducted more trials than any other country, at least 17 since 1991. India, meanwhile, plan to use UCG for power generation and chemical feedstock, whilst South America plans to use UCG to produce fertilisers.
Australia has a number of trials in progress and as the map shows others are in various stages of planning in China, South Africa, India, UK, USA, Canada, Turkey, Vietnam, Hungary and Poland. In Britain, officials hope the process will provide access to vast coal reserves under the North Sea.
In a central role, the Association provides current and timely information to members on all new and existing UCG activities and projects worldwide.