Solid Energy New Zealand Ltd is currently New Zealand’s biggest producer of high quality coal for export and New Zealand markets and is a leader in the field of modern mining and mine development techniques in New Zealand. Additionally, the company is active in developing new forms of energy including coal seam gas, UCG and Hydrogen. Solid Energy also produces renewable energy products such as biodiesel and clean-burning wood pellets.
Solid Energy has been working together with Ergo Exergy since 2005 when a scoping study of New Zealand coal and lignite suitable for UCG was initiated. Following the scoping study, during which suitable coal deposits were identified, the two companies executed an agreement for the provision of Ergo Exergy’s εUCG™ technology in New Zealand in 2007. The Huntly Coal Field in the North Island of New Zealand was chosen for initial development focus and comprehensive site selection and pre feasibility studies were undertaken during 2008 and 2009 respectively.
The site selection study resulted in the selection of a commercial coal resource suitable of supporting large commercial operations, within Solid Energy’s existing Huntly West Coal Mining License. The study also determined a suitable site for conducting pilot UCG operations within the commercial area. The subsequent pre-feasibility study confirmed the commercial, technical and environmentally pre-feasibility of the pilot and commercial projects at the Huntly West Site.
Solid Energy is currently conducting a comprehensive site characterisation program which will include εUCG™ Cold Testing, an integral component of Ergo Exergy’s εUCG™ Technology. Pilot plant design and construction are expected to immediately follow site characterisation in the latter half of 2010 while the pilot plant is planned for ignition in early 2011.
Whilst the pilot will be designed to deliver approximately 5,000Nm3/hr, for research, development and testing purposes, the commercial plant is anticipated to supply approximately 20PJ/annum of gas, to be used for commercial electricity generation. Although investigating existing generation facilities for possible off-take of the syngas, Solid Energy plans to construct a purpose built Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) to maximise efficiencies and minimise the environmental footprint of the project.