US EPA, China teaming on emissions project

THE US Environmental Protection Agency’s Coalbed Methane Outreach Program said this week it has committed over $US1 million to join with Chinese coal mines to perform feasibility studies that may realise ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Donna Schmidt

There will be three full-scale studies undertaken: at the Liuzhuang mine in Anhui Province, at a collection of six mines in Chongquing’s Songzao coal basin, and at another six operations in Henan’s Hebi region.

All will look at the potential for methane recovery and utilisation from both a technical and economic perspective, with the results later compiled into three final comprehensive reports.

The studies have a four-pronged goal: determination of the amount of methane emitted from each mine; assessment of the end uses for captured methane; evaluation of different methane-capture technologies; and estimation of the costs and profits of a methane recovery and use program.

“All three studies support the goals of the Methane to Markets Partnership, a public-private partnership launched in 2004 that reduces greenhouse gas emissions by promoting the cost-effective, near-term recovery and use of methane, while providing clean energy to markets around the world,” the agency said, adding that two of the three project sites involved in the study were featured project opportunities at its Partnership Expo last year in Beijing.

“If methane recovery programs are implemented at all three project sites, up to 1.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent could be reduced each year – that's equal to the annual emissions of up to 330,000 passenger vehicles,” the CMOP pointed out.

EPA administrator Stephen Johnson said the technology for methane recovery played a part in the solution to climate change.

“By capturing and utilising what would otherwise be wasted methane emissions, a new source of clean, reliable, valuable energy is realised," he said.

China is the top coal mine methane emitter in the world, according to EPA statistics.

The two countries were also founding members of the Methane to Markets Partnership. The group has since grown to 27 countries and more than 750 private sector entities as well as financial groups, nongovernmental firms and other organisations.