Partnership eyes coal mine methane

WITH coal mines accounting for 8% of global emissions, coal mine methane (CMM) has been identified as an especially attractive resource by U.S. led Methane to Markets Partnership, established in July.

Staff Reporter

The partnership is a multi-national initiative to develop and promote cooperation on the recovery and use of methane with the involvement of 15 countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

The U.S. will commit up to US$53 million over the next five years to facilitate the development and implementation of methane projects in developing countries with economies in transition. EPA will play a central role in the partnership by building on the success of the agency's voluntary domestic methane partnership programs.

In recent EPA publication, Coalbed Methane Extra, it was estimated the Partnership could facilitate the reduction in methane emission of up to 50 million tonnes per year of carbon equivalent by 2015, which equates to eliminating emissions from fifty 500 MW coal-fired power plants, heating 7.2 million households for a year, or removing 33 million cars from the road for one year.

The EPA said CMM is attractive because mine degasification and ventilation are integral components to a mine’s safety plans, CMM is produced in usable quantities, and reductions are relatively easy to measure and verify.

A lack of technical knowledge, limited options for project finance, and policy/legal hurdles continue to limit project development in all markets, especially those in developing countries and transition economies.

In Russia for example, degassing of mines is inefficient, according to an article in Russian Mining magazine. The article said gas drainage at 17 (38%) of 45 mines analysed did not exceed 20% and was lower in some cases. The article also said of an annual average volume of 216 million cubic metres of extracted methane from Russian mines, only 83 million cubic metres was utilized.

The main goal of the Methane to Markets Partnership is to encourage additional methane recovery through collaboration among all partners to identify, plan, and implement methane-reduction projects.

The partnership will seek participation from the private sector, including financial institutions and multi-lateral organizations to assist with technology transfer, capacity building

The EPA hoped member countries will:

Develop a methane emission reduction action plan and implementation evaluation process,

Build on existing methane emission source identification and monitoring systems,

Identify cost-effective methane emission reduction project opportunities,

Collaboratively implement technically and economically viable projects,

Support developing voluntary consensus standards, and

Identify and address barriers to the creation of effective energy markets that will foster methane emission reduction project implementation.

“The Methane to Markets Partnership is a major milestone in international cooperation that will yield significant economic, environmental, mine safety, and energy benefits,” Dina Kruger, director of the Climate Change Division at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) said.

“The U.S. Government and its partners have every expectation that the Partnership will significantly accelerate the rate of methane emission reduction projects worldwide and thus will simultaneously facilitate the emergence and application of new technologies for the beneficial use of methane as a clean energy source.”