Credit: US Department of Energy
The government claims it's on a mission to clean up
the UK's energy system. You could be forgiven for thinking that
means an end to coal power - the most polluting energy source of
all. But, thanks to new technology, the government hopes there's a
new, 'clean' way to keep using coal.
Writing in the
Telegraph this weekend, Algy Cluff, chief executive of
energy company Cluff Natural Resources, says 'underground coal
gasification' could "provide a vital energy solution and produce
abundant and cheap gas for generations". The prospect has piqued
the government's interest, and energy minister Michael Fallon
established a working group to explore its
But is it too good to be true?
What is underground coal gasification?
Underground coal gasification (UCG) involves drilling down into
coal - normally deep underground - then igniting it. The resulting
gas then runs up another borehole and is collected on the surface,
as the diagram below shows:
Once the gas is collected, companies can use it to run power
stations, or convert it into transport fuel. Carbon capture and
storage (CCS) technology can be added, reducing the process'
emissions, and making it relatively 'clean'.
As such, the government now sees the "exciting pot