A life cycle comparison of greenhouse emissions for power generation from coal mining and underground coal gasification

  • Zeshan Hyder
  • Nino S. Ripepi
  • Michael E. Karmis
Original Article


Underground coal gasification (UCG) is an advancing technology that is receiving considerable global attention as an economic and environmentally friendly alternative for exploitation of coal deposits. UCG has the potential to decrease greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) during the development and utilization of coal resources. In this paper, the life cycle of UCG from in situ coal gasification to utilization for electricity generation is analyzed and compared with coal extraction through conventional coal mining and utilization in power plants. Four life cycle assessment models have been developed and analyzed to compare (greenhouse gas) GHG emissions of coal mining, coal gasification and power generation through conventional pulverized coal fired power plants (PCC), supercritical coal fired (SCPC) power plants, integrated gasification combined cycle plants for coal (Coal-IGCC), and combined cycle gas turbine plants for UCG (UCG-CCGT). The analysis shows that UCG is comparable to these latest technologies and in fact, the GHG emissions from UCG are about 28 % less than the conventional PCC plant. When combined with the economic superiority, UCG has a clear advantage over competing technologies. The comparison also shows that there is considerable reduction in the GHG emissions with the development of technology and improvements in generation efficiencies.


Life cycle assessment Greenhouse gases Underground coal gasification Conventional pulverized coal fired power plants Supercritical coal fired (SCPC) power plants Integrated gasification combined cycle plants LCA models CO2 equivalent/Kwh ISO-14040 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zeshan Hyder
    • 1
  • Nino S. Ripepi
    • 2
  • Michael E. Karmis
    • 3
  1. 1.Mining and Minerals Engineering DepartmentVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.Mining and Minerals Engineering DepartmentVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA
  3. 3.Virginia Center for Coal and Energy ResearchBlacksburgUSA

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