That’s the Weekender’s headline for an article I wrote a couple of weeks ago on underground coal gasification. (My headline was “Old energy’s last gasp?”)
ESKOM is very comfortable with generating power from coal, but like many of the world’s utilities, the parastatal is under ever- increasing pressure to use less coal and reduce its enormous contribution to global warming.
One of Eskom’s latest efforts to make coal cleaner is a pilot project for underground coal gasification (UCG) adjacent to the gigantic Majuba power station near Volksrust in Mpumalanga.
The idea behind UCG is that instead of first mining coal, processing it, then burning it to produce heat and electricity, you set it alight underground to produce a stream of gas that can be burned to produce electricity.
The Weekender’s website carries the full article, which as it has been edited is a little less sceptical than the version I filed. My concern is that Eskom will use successful UCG as yet another strategy to postpone serious investments in renewables.