Underground Coal Gasification

Energy and Climate Change – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 7th July 2011.

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Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills) 10:30 am, 7th July 2011

What steps he is taking to provide support for underground coal gasification.

Photo of Charles Hendry Charles Hendry The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change

The Government recognise the potential of underground coal gasification, but the technology is still in its early stages. Our view is that as a carbon capture option it is not a priority to pursue at present. The Coal Authority has lead responsibility, as the freehold owner of our national coal resource, and we continue to monitor developments in the sector.

Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills)

Newcastle university in my constituency has spun out a start-up, Five-Quarter, to pioneer coal gasification. As the Minister will know, 75% of Britain’s coal reserves are still deep underground, much under the North sea. There is potentially more energy there than in all the natural gas so far extracted from the North sea, so should not the Minister be doing more to help to support this pioneering work?

Photo of Charles Hendry Charles Hendry The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change

I would be very grateful if the hon. Lady would bring those people from the university to meet me to talk about the work they are doing and how that resource can be developed more effectively. In the past couple of years, 14 licences have been granted for areas close to the shoreline. This is a technology we are keen to watch, but I would be very grateful to learn from the university’s expertise.