WHILE LIVING A few miles from the former coal mines in Castlecomer, County Kilkenny, I occasionally thought about coal gasification. The coal mines are now shut but the coal reserves still remain intact in the hills surrounding Castlecomer and I wonder if it's possible to use carbon capture and storage to remove or intercept CO2 from coal and store it deep underground.Richard Girling says "it can be done before combustion by a gasification process, or afterwards by stripping carbon from the flue gas."
There is a mountain of coal still buried under County Kilkenny. It's still down there because it is no longer financially viable to mine the stuff and transport it for profit. If those coal reserves were tapped through underground coal gasification, an Irish energy source could be worked deep underground into a combustible gas containing no CO2. The result could be clean energy with minimal greenhouse emissions.
Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) is not untested. The process is being explored in the old coal mines of Pennsylvania. Boarded-up coal mines exist all over the world. The British Geological Survey concluded that UCG could unlock an extra 17 billion tonnes of indigenous coal--enough for another 300 years at current rates of consumption.
UCG does not endanger lives underground. It does not ruin the countryside. It does not involve high transport and labour costs. And we own the coal already so there's no potential for disrupting its supply.
I'm doing my little part now, looking at better insulation around doors, solar panels on a garage roof and maybe a little wind generator to power a small battery bank. But I'd expect the Irish government to do its part as well, perhaps by exploring UCG of the Castlecomer coal fields.