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World Coal Association calls for investment in CCS

World Coal,

The World Coal Association (WCA) has called for greater investment in cleaner coal technologies, in order to meet growing global energy demand and reduce CO2 emissions.

The WCA said that coal plays a vital role in society by providing over 40% of global electricity and as an indispensable ingredient in modern infrastructure. The International Energy Agency’s forecasts show that coal use is set to grow by around 17% in the next twenty years. 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. Greater investment is needed in cleaner coal technologies to meet global energy demand, alleviate energy poverty and minimise CO2 emissions.

This last point is vital – as reducing emissions is a crucial part of minimising global warming. Reports from leading scientists have proven that the best way to avoid global warming – and its potentially catastrophic effects – is to keep fossil fuels in the ground and transition to a renewable-energy dominated energy mix.

Yet the WCA insists that technologies, such as high efficiency, low emissions (HELE) coal plants and carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS), can make a significant contribution to reducing global CO2 emissions as part of the energy mix.

Benjamin Sporton, WCA’s Acting Chief Executive, stated: “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. 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 CO2 emissions, whilst maintaining legitimate economic development and poverty alleviation efforts.”

Increasing the average efficiency of the global coal fleet from the current level of 33% to 40% can be done with off-the-shelf technology that is currently available. This would make a significant contribution to global efforts, saving around 2 gigatonnes of CO2/yr – roughly equivalent to India’s total annual emissions.

Furthermore, the WCA insists that CCUS technology is a reality, as evidenced by the Boundary Dam coal-fired power plant in Canada. This pioneering project could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1 million t of CO2/yr, the equivalent to taking more than 250 000 cars off the road each year.

Benjamin Sporton added: “Calls for divestment ignore the global role played by coal and the potential offered by HELE and CCUS technologies. 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.”

The divestment movement is showing momentum. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund – the legacy of a business empire founded on oil – shed all fossil fuel holdings last September. Stanford University also committed to divesting from coal companies. Elsewhere around the world, universities from Australia to the UK, as well as Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, have all announced plans to divest from coal.

Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson

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