Clean Coal Energies

Coal Bed Methane

It is natural gas which is found in coal seams in absorbed form. It is similar to natural gas found in in oil & natural gas blocks (both are CH4). It is clean pipeline gas and can be used almost without any processing.

Why it is important to extract CBM?

  1. Methane is hazard in Mines. Being poisonous, it can cause serious harm to miners. So it is better to extract this in advance.
  2. Methane is very potent greenhouse gas (about 20 times than CO2). So it shouldn’t be let escape to environment when it can be captured.
  3. It is very viable resource. It has good calorific value and about half the emissions that of coal.

Coal Bed Methane Policy is in place from 1997. 4 rounds of auctions have taken place allocating 33 gas blocks. Commercial production has started in some blocks.

Director General of Hydrocarbons, Coal India Ltd and Ministry of Oil and Petroleum cooperate for CBM policy. For its extraction well is dug through which water in the coal seam is taken out. It results in reabsorption of methane in pores and through same well CBM is taken out.

Carbon Sequestering – This is technique for ‘enhanced coal bed methane recovery’. Here CO2 will be pumped in to coal seam. Coal has better absorption capacity of CO2 and it will result in more desorption of CBM.

Coal Gasification and Liquefaction

This gives Methane, Hydrogen, Carbon monoxide by combination of Coal, Water and oxygen. These products can be used for power generation and industrial processes. Oxygen and water is pumped in seam which decomposes coal in above products and these are extracted through a well.

Same way, under liquefaction coal under heat and pressure is converted in high value petrochemical. However this is expensive process and only viable if prices of oil is high.

Government has made projects of underground coal gasification and liquefaction eligible to be treated as captive for allocation of coal mines.

Coal liquefication also called Coal to Liquid (CTL) technology is an alternative route to produce diesel and gasoline

Transitioning from Coal


  1. Hydropower
  2. Solar energy
  3. Natural gas
  4. Biomass

Efforts in direction of Alternatives

National Mission on use of Biomass in coal based thermal power plants

Biomass Cofiring

It refers to the concurrent blending and combustion of biomass materials with other fuels such as natural gas and coal within a boiler, which reduce the use of fossil fuels for energy generation and emissions without significantly increasing costs and infrastructure investments.

Benefits of Cofiring: 

  1. It decreases the use of fossil fuels and hence mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. Coal and biomass cofiring accounts for the relevant advantages of a relative ease of implementation and an effective reduction of CO2 and other pollutant (SOx, NOx) emissions to the atmosphere.
  3. Cofiring biomass with coal may record no loss in total boiler efficiency after adjusting combustion output for the new fuel mixture.

Challenges it poses

  • Roadmap for workers and communities dependent on fossil fuels
    • Employ about 2.24 lakh workers.
    • In addition to it –
      • contract employees working for mine development operators (MDOs),
      • captive mines under private players,
      • employed in coal transportation activities
      • employed in coal-consuming sectors like power, steel, sponge iron,
    • The challenge in transitioning coal workers in India is also in factors like education, skill levels, willingness to migrate, and caste.
  • Revenure
    • coal accounts for about 40 percent of total freight revenues — not to
    • GST compensation cess from coal on Coal (FY 2020) – Rs 29,200 crore
    • A transition away from coal must account for the loss to the state and district exchequer.

Clean Coal Research

National Centre for Clean Coal Research and Development

at Indian Institute of Science (IISc)-Bengaluru

Set up by Department of Science & Technology, as a national-level consortium on clean coal R&D, led by IISc.