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Coalbed methane offers up a green and promising resource of electricity

Source: Time: 15 10,2021

Technician at Chengzhuang Thermal Power monitor the status of its coalbed methane-fired power generation equipment. Qiu Mei / For China Daily

A media report in August that said Shanxi province had extracted more than 100 million cubic meters of coalbed methane from deserted mines has aroused attention from the coal industry nationwide as it pointed to a new path of growth for mine operators.

Coalbed methane is a form of natural gas. Its thermal value is one to four times higher than coal of the same weight. Almost no exhaust gases are produced after coalbed methane combustion, according to industry insiders

However, coalbed methane presents a danger inside coal mines. It can explode if the concentration of the gas reaches 5-16 percent.

The gas can also be naturally emitted from mines and reach the surface. If discharged into the atmosphere, its greenhouse effect will be 20 times more than that of carbon dioxide.

Safe extraction of the gas can help avoid coal-mine accidents by reducing its concentration. The extracted coalbed methane can then be used as a clean energy resource, according to industry insiders.

Shanxi is one of the provinces in China with rich coalbed methane resources and is a pioneer for the safe use of the gas.

Compared with 2015, the proven reserves and ground-extraction volume of coalbed methane jumped 82 percent and 95 percent respectively, according to the Shanxi Department of Natural Resources.

The proven geological reserves of the gas in Shanxi reached 7.14 billion cubic meters, accounting for 76.76 percent of China’s total, the department’s statistics showed.

Last year, Shanxi released a threeyear (2020-22) action plan for bolstering the development of coalbed methane.

According to the plan, Shanxi will strengthen institutional guarantees for standardizing exploration, mining management and operations. New policy incentives will include establishing special funds for the industry and streamlining examination and approval procedures for enterprises.

With governmental support, the development and use of coalbed methane in Shanxi have entered a new stage. The industry has become a new engine for the province’s growth. Shanxi has become a demonstration base and modern production base of coalbed methane industrialization in China, according to local officials.

They said Shanxi’s capability in coalbed methane research, exploration and production has reached an internationally advanced level.

A number of local energy companies have begun to shift their focus to this emerging industry.

Jinneng Holding Group, a Stateowned energy giant based in Shanxi, has launched several coalbed methane-fired power generation projects in the province.

According to Zhang Yongtai, head of Chengzhuang Thermal Power, a branch of Jinneng Group, its 46-megawatt power station generated 170 million kilowatt-hours of electricity in the first seven months this year. It consumed 36.96 million cubic meters of coalbed methane during the same period. This volume translates into a reduction of 550,000 metric tons of carbon-dioxide emissions compared with the use of coal.

Guo Yanjie contributed to this story.

By Cao Yingying