Solid Energy has successfully commissioned its $22 million underground coal gasification pilot plant near Huntly in the Waikato region, New Zealand, and the plant is now producing synthetic gas from coal.
Solid Energy said that it believes it is the first in the world to access energy from a single coal field using four different technologies: underground mining, open-cast mining, CSG, and underground coal gasification (UCG).
The company said that UCG can access energy from deep coal seams that are uneconomic using conventional mining technology and, compared to conventional mining, has significantly reduced environmental impacts and safety risks.
Solid Energy Chief Executive Officer Dr Don Elder said â€œOur Huntly UCG pilot plant is designed to give us the geological, process and environmental data we need for commercial UCG plant design. The immediate focus of the pilot is to stabilise initial syngas output, before increasing production to planned levels.
â€œSolid Energy has access to around 2 billion tonnes of coal in the Huntly Coal Field. Most is too deep to be economic using conventional mining. UCG can potentially allow us to access most of this, which represents ten times the energy of the Maui Gas Field.
â€œThat amount of gas would help provide energy security on the doorstep of NZâ€™s largest population centre, and could also be used to produce affordable, environmentally acceptable, high-value products. We are considering future options for commercial UCG plants both in NZ and others."