Research and technological development constitute a very important means of supporting European energy objectives with regard to the supply of European coal and its competitive and environmentally friendly conversion and utilisation. Moreover, the growing international dimension of the coal market and the global scale of the problems confronting it means that the European Union has to take a leading role in meeting challenges relating to modern techniques, mine safety and environmental protection at worldwide level by ensuring the transfer of know-how required for further technological progress, improved working conditions (health and safety) and enhanced environmental protection.
Proposals submitted under this topic must relate to one of the following research objectives (see Art 4 to 7 of Council Decision 2008/376/EC).
1. Improving the competitive position of Community coal
This objective aims at reducing the total costs of mining production, improving the quality of the products and reducing the costs of using coal. This may relate to any phase in the coal production chain:
2. Health and safety in mines
This objectives covers issues concerning mine safety, including gas control, ventilation and air-conditioning with a view to improving underground working conditions and occupational health and safety as well as environmental issues.
3. Efficient protection of the environment and improvement of the use of coal as a clean energy source
This objective aims at minimising the impact of mining operations and the use of coal in the European Union on the atmosphere, water and the surface within the framework of an integrated management strategy with respect to pollution. As the European coal industry is undergoing constant restructuring, the research shall also be geared towards minimising the environmental impact of underground mines destined for closure. This includes:
(a) a reduction in emissions from coal utilisation, including capture and storage of CO2,
(b) a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, in particular methane, from coal deposits;
(c) the return to the mine of mining waste, fly ash and desulphurisation products, accompanied, where relevant, by other forms of waste;
(d) the refurbishment of waste heaps and the industrial use of residues from coal production and consumption;
(e) the protection of water tables and the purification of mine drainage water;
(f) a reduction in the environmental impact of installations which mainly use EU coal and lignite;
(g) the protection of surface installations against the effects of subsidence in the short and long term.
4. Management of external dependence on energy supply
The objective covers prospects for long-term energy supply and concerns the upgrading, in economic, energy-related and environmental terms, of coal deposits which cannot be extracted economically by conventional mining techniques. Projects may include studies, the definition of strategies, fundamental and applied research and the testing of innovative techniques which offer prospects for the upgrading of EU coal resources. This includes the integration of complementary techniques such as the adsorption of methane or carbon dioxide, coal bed methane extraction and underground coal gasification.