The World Coal Association has called for more investment in cleaner coal technologies to meet energy demand while cutting carbon emissions.
Coal currently constitutes close to half of global energy usage, with the International Energy Agency predicting existing figures to grow 17 per cent in the next two decades.
“With 1.3 billion people globally without access to electricity, it is clear all sources of energy will be needed to meet this demand, including coal,” the WCA stated.
“Due to this greater investment is needed in cleaner coal technologies to meet global energy demand, alleviate energy poverty and minimise CO2emissions.”
The WCA pointed to technologies such as ‘high efficiency, low emissions’ (HELE) coal plants, as well as carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) as ways forward for the industry to aid it in reducing global CO2 emissions.
Other technology includes pre-combustion capture, post-combustion capture, and oxy-fuel combustion.
“The WCA recognises the vital role that all low emission technologies can play and has created a global Platform for Accelerating Coal Efficiency(PACE) to promote adoption of these technologies,” WCA acting chief executive, Benjamin Sporton, said.
“PACE’s vision is for the most efficient power plant technology possible to be deployed when coal plants are built. PACE’s objective is to raise the global average efficiency of coal-fired power plants and so minimise CO2emissions, whilst maintaining legitimate economic development and poverty alleviation efforts.”
It went on to slam the global divestment movement, such as that spruiked by 350.org that called on investors to pull out of fossil fuels, as well as similar decisions by the University of Sydney and ANU to divest their shareholdings in carbon emitting heavy industries.
“Calls for divestment ignore the global role played by coal and the potential offered by HELE and CCUS technologies,” Sporton said.
“It is essential that responsible investors actively engage with the coal industry. All low emission technologies are needed to meet climate targets. We cannot meet our energy needs, tackle energy poverty and reduce global emissions without utilising all options available to us, including low emissions coal.”
According to the International Energy Agency by “increasing the average efficiency of the global coal fleet from the current level of 33 per cent to 40 per cent can be done with off-the-shelf technology that is currently available such as HELE and CCSU”.
“This would make a significant contribution to global efforts, saving around 2 gigatonnes of CO2annually – roughly equivalent to India’s total annual emissions.”