Coal is an abundant resource in the U.S. and a potential boon to our energy independence. But one of the difficulties in mining coal is the buildup of dangerous methane gas and its subsequent release into the atmosphere.
Since methane is flammable, it must be carefully cleared from the mine, which historically has been done by installing exhaust fans. This degasification process improves worker safety, but has a real downside for the environment.
The Jenbacher J420 gas engine helps solve this challenge by cutting the release of methane into the air while turning the excess methane into heat and electricity that can be used in the mine or fed into the public power grid.
Recent international studies have determined that 30 – 40 percent of all coal mines produce gas that can be effectively used for power generation with gas engines. Even inactive mines continue to produce methane, so this by-product-as-energy-source is a method that can be used globally.
One Jenbacher J420 gas engine running on coal mine methane is designed to generate approximately 11,000 MW-hours of electricity per year. And today about 3.0 million MW-hours of electricity are created each year by the 180 Jenbacher stystems installed around the world—that’s enough to supply about 700,000 EU homes.
The currently installed Jenbacher units could save an estimated 11,800,000 metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions per year.
In regards to GE’s largest coal mine gas engine installation in Australia, Prady Iyyanki, CEO of GE Energy’s Jenbacher gas engine business, says “For GE, this project demonstrates that customers recognize the value gained from using high-tech, cost-effective gas engines for power generation. For the country overall, the project represents another bold effort to help Australia aggressively curtail its greenhouse gas emissions levels.”
For the Earth
Using coal mine gas in Jenbacher engines can reduce the release of methane into the atmosphere by about 85 percent, compared to traditional methods of venting the gas.
Based on the methane consumed and the displaced grid electricity production, the currently installed Jenbacher units could save an estimated 11,800,000 metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions per year. This is equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of more than 5.85 million passenger cars on European roads.
“GE’s innovative technology allows us to turn a previously environmentally harmful gas into a safer, useful fuel to produce energy for our customers in a more cost-effective manner,” said Peter Kuruch, CEO of Kuzbasskaya Energosetevaya Compania.
With the ability to lower emissions, produce energy, and make coalmines safer, the Jenbacher is a solid solution for a cleaner, more efficient planet.