Coal and energy security

Energy security supply involves two aspects: ① long-term security or resource availability; ② short-term security includes interruption of the supply of main fuel or electricity production.

Energy sources with different advantages can be used in combination to meet the energy needs of different countries and thus provide the security of the energy system. There are many factors that can control energy supply such as the diversity of power generation capacity, the level of investment required, the availability of infrastructure and expertise, the interconnection of energy systems, the alternative of fuels, the conversion of fuels, prices, political and social environments (Canada Coal Association 2010).

Coal reserves are abundant in fast-developing economies such as China and India; as a result, coal has become attractive, and coal has become a natural choice for energy for industrial and economic activities. The United States has the largest coal reserves in the world, and they are widely used for power generation; they are also planned for new power plants. Almost all countries with large coal reserves prefer to use coal to meet their energy needs. Only a few countries rely on imported coal for power generation, such as Japan. Petroleum is another fossil energy that plays an important role in global energy supply. However, oil is not as huge as coal. Most of it is stored in the Middle East and North Africa (ME-NA), although it also exists in other parts of the world. As a result, countries that mainly produce oil make oil prices continue to rise (or output is controlled) for different reasons. These reasons are different from technology and increase market uncertainty. In recent years, due to the political and social turmoil in China, which mainly produces oil, oil supply and costs have become extremely irregular. Countries like India have to allocate large budgets to import oil.

Hydropower is an attractive energy source, but its share of total energy is unlikely to increase further (Howes and Fainberg 1991). It has been developed very early in the history of industrialized countries because of its cost-effectiveness. Now it has reached or even exceeded its sustainable development potential in many developed countries. In countries with many mountains, waters and low population density, most electricity is generated by hydropower. In emerging and poor countries, there is a large amount of untapped hydropower potential, but there is no reason to believe that the share of hydropower in the total energy in these countries can exceed that of developed countries. When they reach the level of developed countries, they will also be subject to sustainable development constraints before domestic demand is met (Lackner 2006).

Although nuclear energy is expensive, it cannot be ignored as an alternative energy source. In recent years, it has become a reliable form of energy supply in many countries, and it will continue to provide a large amount of stable electricity. However, the safety and environmental issues that the public often mention and worry still need to be resolved. For example, the recent catastrophic incident on the Fukushima nuclear reactor has raised huge questions about its safety around the world. Although renewable energy such as wind and solar energy is mature and environmentally friendly, there are substantial problems in large-scale production. The energy emitted by the sun is huge, and it is not difficult to transform a part of it to supply humans. However, with current technology, the cost of power conversion is very high. Moreover, the large-scale production of solar panels and new and inexpensive photovoltaic technologies are still in the research stage, such as organic or dye-sensitized solar cells and nanowire-based solar cells. The commercialization of these technologies will greatly reduce the cost of solar power generation. If the cost of solar power generation reaches about 1 cent/kWh, it can compete with traditional power generation energy. Although the cost of wind power generation is already quite low, whether it can be mass-produced without causing environmental problems still needs to be investigated and further confirmed. Another limitation of wind and solar energy is their intermittent nature. Geothermal energy and ocean (tidal) energy with good characteristics are still in the early stages of development. At present, mature new energy only occupies a small part of the total energy. Therefore, these energy sources are still a long way from actual promotion and competition with traditional energy sources. They are at a disadvantage only in terms of achievable scale production.

Therefore, although environmental issues require significant changes in fossil energy power generation methods, it is very important to develop technology to ensure the feasibility of fossil energy, especially coal. Coal conversion technology, gasification technology, and coal-to-liquid (Coal-To-Liquid, CTL) have many uses. The synthetic fuel provided by coal liquefaction is a good alternative energy source for gasoline. Synthetic fuels produced from coal decades ago in Germany and South Africa have fully proved their feasibility. In World War II, Germany faced an oil shortage, and South Africa also experienced a severe oil crisis during the apartheid period. Facts have proved that coal is very important in energy security. At least for the foreseeable future or before the development of other clean energy sources, coal is an indispensable source of electricity.

The technology of coal-fired power plants requires tremendous progress to meet environmentally friendly requirements. The new “Clean Coal Technology” (CCT) refers to a process system that can control the emissions of SO2, NOx, particulate matter and mercury, greatly reduce fuel consumption and have high combustion efficiency. The widespread use of pollution control equipment that can reduce industrial SO2, NOx, and particulate matter emissions has made the air in many countries cleaner. Since the 1970s, various policies and regulatory measures around the world have provided an ever-expanding commercial market for these emission control technologies, which in turn reduced the cost of the technology and improved the effect. Advances in raw material research and power plant composition design and production capacity advancements make new coal-fired power plants different from traditional power plants. They can operate at higher water vapor pressures and temperatures (supercritical and ultra-supercritical water vapor conditions) to achieve better performance. High efficiency, greatly reducing exhaust emissions and coal consumption. In addition to improving efficiency, carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) is also a way to limit CO2 emissions from coal combustion in the future. CCS is an integration of a series of technologies, including capturing CO2 from major point sources, transporting it to storage points and injecting it into wells, and finally sealing it permanently in multi-space geological structures deep underground. Extensive research and development activities have proven that CCS is the most promising and important CO2 emission reduction technology, and it is also the most suitable for coal-fired power plants. The application of CCS to high-efficiency IGCC technology has a huge effect on CO2 emission control in the pre-combustion stage. However, these clean coal technologies have not been widely used worldwide. The main challenge is to commercialize these technologies, that is, how to continue to maintain the economic competitiveness of coal while meeting low emissions and achieving near-zero emissions at the expense of costs. In essence, coal will remain the backbone of global power generation for the foreseeable future. In order to truly realize the current global power demand, coal-based on-grid power generation is the most economical way to provide reasonably priced, safe and reliable power. Janos Beer, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry and Fuel Engineering at MIT, discovered that clean coal is a reality, it can provide clean energy and solve corresponding environmental problems (March 2013).

The application of advanced coal technology has an even greater advantage. CO2 is a valuable by-product (also regarded as a commodity!) from the burning of fossil fuels; for the emerging “Carbon Cap-ture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS)” method, coal Will be the main source of sufficient CO2. As the European Energy and Resource Security Center (2011) recently pointed out, “CO2 should not be regarded as a waste product, it can also generate economic value.” The view that CO2 storage can create wealth will soon replace the view that geological storage of CO2 is nothing more than a garbage disposal view. The use of CO2 to enhance oil recovery (EOR) from lean oil wells is an example of the use of the CCUS method. The main goal of the CCUS method is to develop an industry inspired by the commercial economy. By putting the captured CO2 into commercial use, the CCUS method provides additional businesses and markets for organizations/industry pursuing the environmental benefits of CCS (US Department of Energy 2012). In 2012, the National Clean Council referred to the United States’ report on “Controlling the carbon content of coal to promote economic, environmental and energy security” and stated that the CCUS method is the key to clean energy technology. This method is the pursuit of sustainable and low-carbon An indispensable part of future strategy.

Many frontier research institutions (such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University), carbon research institutes, associations and industries in North America, the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia, the International Energy Agency (IEA), the U.S. Energy Information Administration (ElA) , The United States Department of Energy (DOE)/National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), World Resources Institute (wRI), the specially established Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute (CCCSI), prominent voluntary organizations and many other institutions, are committed to The development of different aspects of Yuzhan coal technology-technology development, technology research and development, demonstration, deployment, performance monitoring, economic feasibility and reliability, policy, legal and regulatory measures, public response, international cooperation, etc., to ensure cleanliness Coal provides answers to growing global energy demand and climate policy goals.