Rising coal prices and changing market conditions will spur mining operations in 2014, says energy entrepreneur Ana Shell, who attended the 12th Annual Coal Markets conference (http://www.coalmarketsasia.com/) in Singapore Feb. 25. Securing an adequate coal supply will be a critical challenge facing power companies, while coal suppliers may struggle to meet demand.
Representing Ana Shell Fund, Shell discussed the key challenges facing the coal industry and commodities markets, meeting one-on-one with key industry leaders. The conversation centered on current coal reserves, the anticipated need for increases in mining production, and a look at the impact of U.S. Shale gas on global thermal coal and the Asian seaborne market.
Coal prices this year through 2016 are expected to continue climbing, with annual growth estimates ranging from 15-18 percent. One question is whether supplies can keep pace with demand.
To answer that question, Shell and her company, highlighted a new energy strategy to supplement and even replace coal in certain circumstances.
Shell met with key conference participants to discuss the benefits of coal gasification program developed jointly with NRGLab Pte Ltd – an innovative way of generating power from virtually any carbon-based material, including rice husk, coal, gas and APG. This gasification process breaks down the material to its basic components so pollutants and greenhouses gases can be separated. The resulting fuel burns with near-zero emissions and an operating efficiency of 60 percent.
“Our system operates at lower cost, using readily available feedstock,” Shell told conference participants.
NRGLab’s gasification system produces 1.5 MW/h of electrical power using one ton of palm waste, rice husk, or bamboo. That’s the same amount of power produced by burning one ton of coal. But there’s a critical difference: NRGLab systems burn biomass material, which costs $10 USD per ton. Coal currently stands at $50 USD per ton and is expected to increase. Utility rates for power consumption can only rise with the anticipated spike in coal prices.
High demand for coal throughout Asia, especially in China and India, also has an impact on quality of life issues. China and India regularly post some of the worst air-pollution numbers on earth.
Transitioning to biomass and away from coal not only helps the planet, but also enables governments to be ready when fossil fuels eventually run out, Shell said. Coal reserves are dwindling. Before they are depleted, proactive nations can be ready with a lower-cost alternative for generating electrical power – and it’s already available.
“We heard a lot of interesting facts about coal markets, rising costs, the challenges of mining and production,” Shell said after the conference. “So many factors can affect the cost of energy produced by burning coal. Shipping and transportation costs are huge. In areas of the world affected by harsh weather, the supply channels can be disturbed or interrupted without warning.”
The coal markets conference was produced by IBC Metals and Mining (http://www.ibc-asia.com/). Shell thanked IBC for producing the event and giving participants the chance to talk openly about energy issues that have global and long lasting consequences.
This year’s conference focused on new strategies and opportunities within the rapidly evolving coal industry. Attendees discussed new industry developments for 2014. Topics included price forecasts, discussions of factors driving price fluctuations, risk management, logistics, and international perspectives on industry issues. The event was attended by a truly international representation of companies and executives from all over the world.
Ana Shell Media Press was one of 30 supporting partners in the 2014 Coal Markets Conference: “We were pleased to be a part of this important conversation on the future of energy production with coal, as well as alternative methods of generating electricity with less costly and more environmentally friendly alternatives. NRGLab is at the forefront of this affordable energy movement.”
Article prepared by Mike Burd