NEWS AND EVENTS
NEWS AND EVENTS
07.02.2019Many words, few changesAccording to the report of the International Energy Agency "Coal 2018, Analysis and forecast 2023", global coal consumption returned to the level before 2017. After two years, when decrease was recorded, the demand for this source of energy increased by 1% and reached the value of 7 585 million tones which is 38 % in the energy mix. The reason of the growing consumption of coal was the increase in industrial production caused by global economic growth as well as the increase in electricity demand.
Despite the attention which media are still given to the decarbonisation, market trends are resistant to change. Coal as the source of electricity production is the main topic of debate on climate policy. In addition, there are talks about the elimination of coal used for heating while, on the other hand, that source is still the most preferred source mainly due to its price.
The prediction are that the global demand for the coal will be stable in the next five years. Declines recorded in Europe and the United States are compensate by the increase of coal consumption in India and other Asian countries.
07.02.2019Coal trade by sea is shifting from Europe to other marketsReport "Coal 2018, Analysis and forecast 2023" of International Energy Agency shows that Europe was the only shrinking market in a sea coal trade in 2017. Countries such as: Brazil, Taipei, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Philippines, Pakistan, Turkey and Vietnam observed the biggest coal imports, while China increased their result by 15Mt. With further growth in 2018, in China and India, sea coal trade was approaching 1 billion tons.
11.02.2019Coal will remain the basis of Bulgarian energy sectorThe Ministry of Energy Zhecho Stankow informed that Bulgaria won't resign from coal-fired power plants which are the basis of energy sector in the country. The decision was anounced according to the Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan by 2030 with a perspective until 2050. The document indicates the achievement of a 32 % share of energy from RES in the total energy consumption as well as obtaining 32,5 % energy savings by 2030. What is more, coal will remain base source of energy because of its stability and security of supply.
08.02.2019Stable demand on global coal marketAccording to the report „BP Energy Outlook – 2018 edition” recently observed growth in global coal consumption will slow down rapidly until 2040. Decrease demand in China and OECD will be offset by growing demand in India and other growing countries of Asia.
Predictions on global coal market contrasts sharply with the situation in the last 25 years, during which coal was characterized by the highest growth in increasing world energy consumption.
According to „Evolutionary Transformation” scenario the slowdown will be mainly driven by situation in China where will not be any significant changes in coal consumption over the next 10 years, before demand will start to decline. Despite of this China remains the world’s largest coal market, accounting for 40% of the world’s coal consumption in 2040. Coal demand within OECD will declining, which will be largely related to environmental policies, except in the US where the main factor of declining demand will be the availability of low-cost natural gas.
On the other hand in India and other growing Asian economies demand for the coal will grow due to taking there industrialize and electrify. The largest growth coal market will be India, with a little over 10% coal demand in 2016 to around 25% by 2040.
07.02.2019Climate policy ruins investments in coal sectorHigher demand for coal led to higher prices, which did not increase the amount of investments in this sector. The part of revenue was used to purchase existing assets, and in a limited number of cases to develop current operations.
However, investments in new mines didn’t progressed due to the risk related to the climate policy implemented in the world. Banks, insurance companies, hedge funds, private and public companies in developed economies came from the coal industry which resulted in the loss of jobs and the need to re-arrange other branches of economies.
MYTHS and FACTS
Europe is the biggest coal producer in the world
In 2017 coal production in Europe amounted to 464 million tons which is only a fraction (6,1 %) of world production.
Coal is responsible for negative climate changes
Only 5% of total CO2 emissions is related to human activity, and the other 95% comes from natural sources. Only 29% of that is related to the energy sector.
European Union activities regarding CO2 emissions reduction have a significant impact upon climate change
CO2 emissions across the whole European Union constitute only 9% of global emissions. The biggest emitters are China (30%) and the USA (15%), therefore these are the countries that should take measures aimed at CO2 emissions reduction.
Coal consumption is constantly dropping
In 1990 the consumption of coal was about 4.5 billion tons, while in 2017 it increased by over 67%, reaching 7.55 billion tons. Consumption increase is particularly visible in developing countries in the South East Asia region, Australia and North America.
MYTHS and FACTS
In recent years GHG emissions increased mainly in Europe
GHG emissions in Europe have been decreasing for the last few decades, reaching the level of 4.15 billion tons in 2017, while emissions in 1990 were at the level of 4.7 billion tons and in 2000 - 4.45 billion tons. Actions taken in Europe, including Poland, contribute to smaller emissions of the economy.
The current decarbonisation policy has a positive impact upon the EU economy
Actions related to decarbonisation of EU economies contribute to transfer of production outside their borders. In 2017 the balance of trade in the European Union was negative and it amounted to 178.8 billion EUR, and since 2000 the cumulative value reached minus 3,792 billion EUR.
The European Union is highly independent of imported fuels
In 2015 the cost of fuels imported to the European Union reached approximately PLN 1.1 billion. At the same time, dependence on imported coal, oil and gas increased from 52% in 1990 to 74% in 2016.
MYTHS and FACTS
The global decarbonisation policy gives results in decreasing CO2 emissions
From the first climate summit in 1995 (COP1 in Berlin), global GHG emissions increased from 21.9 billion tons to 33.4 billion tons in 2017.
Coal imports to the European Union are marginal
In 2017 all the EU countries together imported 173 million tons of coal, which corresponds to the transfer of about 58 coal mines outside the EU borders and thus to 175,000 jobs directly at coal mines and another 525,000 jobs in sectors related to the mining industry. It is estimated that coal imports caused transfer of almost EUR 13 billion outside the EU borders.
Subsidies for renewables are at a minimum level, because these sources are for free
When analysing the amount of subsidies for power production in the European Union it becomes apparent that subsidies for renewables amount to 110 EUR/MWh on average, while the subsidies for conventional fuels amount to 78,5 EUR/MWh.
MYTHS and FACTS
Coal can be easily replaced with Renewable Energy Sources
Energy produced in wind and solar installations is not stable, because it strictly depends on weather conditions and therefore they operate for a small number of hours per year. Wind farms operate for about 25% of time in a year, while solar plants for 15% of time. As a comparison, coal-fired power plants can operate for 55-60% of time in a year, while their shutdowns and overhauls are planned, as opposed to RES shutdowns.
MYTHS and FACTS
Coal-based Energy generation sector uses obsolete technology
Coal-fired units constructed in the 1960-70s are low efficiency units and they will be gradually phased out. Since the year 2000 the efficiency of new coal-fired units has increased by 10%, where an increase of 1% in efficiency translates to CO2 emissions reduction by 2-3%. New power units are equipped with comprehensive, high-efficiency flue gas treatment systems (denitrification, dedusting and desulphurisation), which successfully reduce the emission of nitrogen oxides, dusts and sulphur oxides. Since 1988 GHG emissions in the energy sector dropped by more than 33%.
QUESTIONS and ANSWERS
What is the cause of smog?
What is needed for smog to be formed are appropriate weather conditions (low temperature, small wind, low humidity) and land topography, as well as the presence of polluting substance emissions. In large cities with developed district heating, the main emitters of pollutants are cars and busses, while in suburban and rural areas emissions are also caused by farming and combustion of inappropriate substances (waste, wood that is not dry enough).
Is it possible to cover 100 % of Energy demand with renewables?
There are various systems of using renewable energy sources, with most of them being dependent on weather conditions, such as wind and sun. At present there are no energy storage facilities with adequate capacity, therefore, together with installations that use renewables, it is necessary to build auxiliary (emergency) sources to produce energy when there is no wind or when the cloud cover is high.
QUESTIONS and ANSWERS
What is energy poverty?
Energy poverty is a problem that is also observed in developed EU countries and it refers to a situation where part of the society cannot afford to properly heat their building or home or cannot afford to pay their energy bills. All over the European Union 24.5% of inhabitants are exposed to the risk of energy poverty and 9% of the society live in energy poverty.
QUESTIONS and ANSWERS
Which heat source is the cheapest?
Taking into account data concerning the production of heat in heating plants in 2016, we can clearly see that coal still remains the cheapest source of energy. The cost of generating 1 GJ of energy from coal is PLN 32.0, while from RES (biomass) it is PLN 39.1, from natural gas - PLN 53.3 and from fuel oil - as much as PLN 77.3.
What is electric power produced of in Poland?
The main source for energy production in Poland is coal, however, renewables are becoming more and more important. In 2017 production of energy from coal amounted to 80% of total production, from renewables (including pumped-storage hydroelectric power stations) to 14%, and from gas - the remaining 6%.
QUESTIONS and ANSWERS
What is the volume of coal imports to Europe?
In 2017 coal imports to Europe amounted to 173 million tons, with the largest importers being: Germany (47.9 million tons), Spain (19.2 million tons), the Netherlands (16.2 million tons), France (15.7 million tons) and Italy (15.3 million tons).
Is energy from renewables free?
Energy generated through RES-based installations is almost free at operating stage, but it requires high financial outlays at the investment stage. The prices of electric power for households are higher in countries with a large share of photovoltaic and wind installations than in countries that use coal.
QUESTIONS and ANSWERS
Many work establishments in Europe, that employ thousands of people, are being closed. Why are miners covered with a protective umbrella?
If this is to be transformation (and not liquidation), then we need to preserve the value chain that the mining sector generates for the social and economic development of regions and take into account the differences between the level of development of particular countries and regions. This requires creating equivalent jobs in other mature and specialised sectors and providing appropriate financing for the process.
QUESTIONS and ANSWERS
How much can mining regions' transformation cost in Europe?
An expert report prepared by the University of Economics in Katowice showed that in the case of Polska Grupa Górnicza [Polish Mining Group] the cost of transformation into another, most likely industry (automotive, construction, other technological sectors) would be about EUR 44 billion, and only provided that a very important condition is met - namely that there will be investors ready to recreate those jobs in other mature sectors.
Does giving up coal in favour of renewables mean that the energy prices would be lower?
Half of the energy produced from renewables in Western European countries is subsidised. In 2015 the total subsidies for RES amounted to EUR 60 billion, while subsidies for coal production in the same period amounted to EUR 4.2 billion. Taking into account the investment costs per MW of installed capacity, investments in renewables are more expensive than investments in this unit based on coal. Subsidised RES are highly unstable in operation and they have priority as regards energy transfer to the grid. This requires maintaining high power reserves based on conventional fuels and it has a negative impact upon their economics.
Carbon is one of the most common elements in the Universe. It is the chemical building block of life on Earth and carbon products are an inextricable part of our everyday lives. As the basis of several chemical compounds, carbon is found in food, fuels, fertilisers, cleaning products, drinks and medicines – in other words, almost everything man encounters each and every day. As an element, carbon plays an increasingly greater role in our civilisation. It is the basis of the over 10 million organic compounds known to man. Therefore, it plays a crucial role in nearly all fields of life. Without it, we would not have advanced in medicine, pharmacy, biology, chemistry, physics, materials, metallurgy, textiles, gastronomy, automotive, aeronautics, cosmonautics, cosmetics, energy, electronics or arts.
COAL AS A FUEL
Bituminous coal is a solid mineral fuel. It is a sedimentary rock formed from dead plants, mainly during the Carboniferous period, around 360-300 million years ago – in the Palaeozoic era. Over time, with heat and pressure, the dead plant material was subjected to coalification, a process which increases the percentage content of carbon (C), and decreases the amount of oxygen, hydrogen and other substances. In a nutshell, bituminous coal is solar energy converted by the process of photosynthesis – a biological process – in to biomass and then stored through the slow geological processes occurring on Earth.
DATA HARD AS COAL
The European Union is the world's largest producer of lignite
383 million tonnes in 2017
Significant quantities of bituminous coal are extracted in the EU
81 million tonnes in 2017, including 65.5 million tonnes in Poland
The European Union is the fourth largest importer of coal
after China,India and Japan million tonnes in 2017
Conventional energy reserves in the EU lie mainly in coal deposits
– coal and lignite reserves in the EU account 89% of the
A CHEAP AND STABLE
SOURCE OF ENERGY
In Poland, the cost of producing one gigajoule (1 GJ) of heat from coal is, on average, €5.70 – enough to heat a home for a week.
For comparison, the cost of producing:
- 1 GJ of heat from gas is c. €11,
- 1 GJ of heat from oil amounts to c. €18,
- 1 GJ of heat from electricity is c. €22.
JOBS FOR TECHNICIANS
AND SPECIALIST ENGINEERS
HOW MUCH CARBON IS IN COAL?
Depending on the type and several other factors, bituminous coal may contain from 60% to 80% carbon (C), anthracite more (92-98%) and lignite less (25-35%). Its composition and heating value depend on the level of moisture, ash, sulphur and other trace compounds.
The element carbon is the main component of bituminous coal. Carbon occurs in various forms, so-called allotropic varieties. It means that its atoms may be laid with time in various characteristic ways, giving each kind of carbon different physical and chemical properties. The most well-known allotropic varieties are: graphite, diamond, graphene (a single layer of carbon atoms), fullerenes (nanotubes and buckyballs).
GRAPHENE – MATERIAL OF THE FUTURE
Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms – the basic structural element of graphite – with unique properties. It is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity and is characterised by a very high tensile strength – considerably higher than structural steel or Kevlar. A membrane made of graphene is gas-tight but entirely permeable to water. It is assumed that in many applications, graphene may substitute silicon, which is of great importance to the modern electronics. Its transparency and excellent conductivity provides for the design of extremely flexible touch screens, and at the same time enables the production of electricity from solar cells and the storage of electricity in new kinds of battery. Graphene also serves to detect even the slightest amount of dangerous substances. It is envisaged that its future use may be crucial in the production ships and spacecraft. Research is currently ongoing on the effectiveness of graphene and syngas production.
A material valued for its universal application is carbon fibre. It consists of a stretched carbon structure, chemically similar to graphite. Carbon fibres are organic polymers with high mechanical strength, and yet infusible and chemically resistant. They are most often used as a structural material in various types of laminates. They strengthen modern sails and the hulls of high-performance boats, sports equipment and other components for the aerospace and automotive industries.
Advanced research is currently ongoing on the gasification of coal and lignite. The process has several significant and ecological advantages. Gasification decreases the emissions of harmful oxides of sulphur and nitrogen.
Simultaneously, it makes it possible to supply more useful energy than from traditional combustion processes. Such a solution creates the possibility of producing fuels for cars, aeroplanes and other equipment powered by combustion engines.
NO SMOKE – JUST FIRE
AND WHAT ABOUT CARBON DIOXIDE?
One of the products of coal combustion is carbon dioxide. Its increased presence in the atmosphere is considered to be the reason for global warming. Academic circles are looking for ways to utilise CO2 to finally solve the problem related to the presence of this gas in the atmosphere. Experts recommend producing fuel for cars and aeroplanes from carbon dioxide using an artificial photosynthesis process. The method still requires further development of the technology, not least to ensure its profitability.
COAL – THE START
OF AN ECONOMIC VALUE CHAIN
As history shows, coal is the driving force for technological advancement. Coal initiated the industrial revolution. Thanks to coal the steel and machinery industries continue to develop, and so its extraction supports the entire European economy. Coal sits at the start of a long value chain.
The modern coal and lignite industry helps in the creation of new materials, facilitating the processes of energy production and processing, while continuously improving the quality and safety of our lives.
Coal is one of the most important sources of heat and electricity, as well as the basis for various branches of modern industry, e.g. steel and cement. In propelling the development of new technologies, it contributes to the emergence and broad application of new clean coal technologies.
The coal industry offers, therefore:
- well-paid jobs,
- knowledge and technological advancement,
- technical skills and competences.
IF NOT COAL,
Coal is one of the most important sources of energy. In the opinion of many specialists, it is impossible to completely replace coal and lignite with alternatives within the time horizon of current climate and energy policies.
The International Energy Agency predicts that, in the coming decades, the world will not be able to meet the demand for energy without coal. It is envisaged that, with new technologies, coal will become an eco-friendly energy material – almost as emission-free as renewable sources of energy.