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Solution of Slovakia Energy Problems With Brown Coal Produced in Ukraine

Slovakia, being limited in solid fuel resources is constantly experiencing its deficit. Domestic production of oil and gas is able to cover only 1-2% of energy consumption. At the same time, brown coal has been used as an energy resource in Slovakia for a long time. The country has several deposits of brown coal, but only a few of them are developed and and are operating on a permanent basis. It is believed that production is economically unprofitable because of low calorific value of brown coal.

However, consumption of brown coal in recent years has been on average 3 million tons per year, about 20% of which was imported, particularly from the Czech Republic. But considering plans of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic, in particular the initiative of the Minister Martin Kocourek to introduce an additional duty on brown coal exports, announced in September 2011, Slovakia may face a shortage of this energy resource. (The Project proposes to abolish territorial restrictions on brown coal production in North Bohemia, which would provide strong support for the economy of the Czech Republic.)

Slovakia's energy problems can be solved by importing Ukrainian brown coal, calorific value of which is no less than calorific value of European brown coal (Table 1). According to the initiative of the Ukrainian government, Ukraine plans to increase production of coal, including brown coal. Thus, additional volumes of produced brown coal could partially substitute for supply of brown coal from the Czech Republic.

Table 1. Comparative characteristics of calorific value of brown coal produced in Slovakia and Ukraine

Deposit Name Calorific Value (MJ/kg)
Handlová (Slovakia) 17,24
Cigeľ (Slovakia) 13,22
Nováky(Slovakia) 11,94
Čáry (Slovakia) 9,0
Oleksandriya (Ukraine) 8,6

For example, caloric value of brown coal produced in Ukraine is on average 8,6 MJ / kg, while calorific value of brown coal produced at a new field in Čáry is 9,0 MJ / kg.

At the same time, Ukrainian price of brown coal is 18.5 euro EXW, and 33 euro DAP at the Ukraine-Slovakia border. Brown coal produced in other European countries is more expensive, i.e. 64 euro EXW for brown coal produced in the Czech Republic, 35 euro EXW for brown coal produced in Poland (Table 2). Since Ukraine is a neighbor country to Slovakia, transportation of coal is economically sound.

Table 2. Comparative characteristics of average prices for brown coal produced in Europe, euro/t., EXW

Name Poland Ukraine Czech Republic Slovakia
Price 35 18,5 64 47

Brown coal produced in Ukraine has the following characteristics:

Index Value Standard
Moisture (ar), % 55,03 % GOST 11014-81
Ash (ar), % 7,62 % GOST 11022-95
Ash(db), % 16,95 % GOST 6382-91
Volatile Matter (ar), %  20,26 % GOST 6382-91
Volatile Matter (db), % 50,26 % ISO 195796: 2006
Sulphur (ar), % 1,99% ISO 195796: 2006
Sulphur (db) % 4,42 % ISO 195796: 2006
Net CV (ar), GJ/kg 0,0086  ISO 1928: 2009
Gross CV (d), GJ/kg 0,0229 ISO 1928: 2009
Gross CV (daf), GJ/kg 0,0277 ISO 1928: 2009

The most traditional application is burning brown coal at thermal power plants, combined heat and power plants and boilers, in particular at the Novaky Power Plant that produces around 8% of electricity in Slovakia. Thanks to reasonable prices for Ukrainian brown coal, it is possible to use a mix of brown coal produced in Europe and Ukraine (BR-1) for pulverized burning. 

When developing the mix, aggregate computation method is applied depending on characteristics of types of brown coal used for mixing. The final mix complies with all requirements for boilers and coal pulverization systems of power stations. Such mixes have been successfully used at the Ukrainian Ladyzhyn and Zaporozye power stations for over 2 years.

Mixing of European and Ukrainian brown coals allow to significantly save on cost. Mixing 33% of Ukrainian brown coal with 67% of European brown coal saves up to 16%, or 10 euro per 1 ton of brown coal (i.e. 500 thousand euro when buying a batch of 50 thousand tons).

Mixing brown coal produced in Ukraine with a Sulphur index of 1,99% with brown coal produced in Europe with a Sulphur index of 0.5% in the above mentioned ratio will result in a Sulphur index of less than 1% (0,99%), which complies with all European regulations.

Other applications of brown coal include brick yards, lime and cement works, production of fertilizers and pellets. Brown coal powder is also used for producing reagents for oil and gas drilling.

Given constantly growing prices for oil and gas, usage of alternative resources is expected to be increasing. Brown coal produced in Ukraine, thanks to its low cost, is able to cover the deficit of energy resources in Slovakia.