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Editorial comment

It’s no surprise that a global initiative to shift away from coal and be ‘green’ is helping renewables gain a greater market share.

Across Europe, many countries have made commitments to decrease coal and in turn opening up space for renewables: the UK announcing it will close all plants by 2025, Germany’s Energiewende, France pledging to stop burning coal by 2023.

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Many countries are developing renewables: India – a still developing country – is taking large strides towards solar power, for example the 125 MW Sakri solar plant in Maharashtra is on track to be one of the largest in the world.

Even US power utilities are closing down coal-fired power plants (despite President’s Trump’s proactive stance on ending the war on coal) and turning to cheaper natural gas and renewables as alternatives. For example, Florida Power & Light Company has recently filed a petition to shut down another coal plant, St Johns River Power Park, by the end of this year. The company reported it will continue to invest in advances in solar and natural gas energy centres, as it believes this will save customers money and generate cleaner energy.

But, renewables are not the only alternative; investment into clean coal technologies is on the rise too. Despite it not always taking centre stage in mainstream news, the coal industry is making significant progress in developing clean coal technologies to keep emissions down while providing reliable baseload fuel. And recently I have heard from and read about a number of initiatives and projects from the industry. For example, at the beginning of the year, the construction of Petra Nova, the world’s largest post-combustion carbon capture system on a power plant, was completed in Texas. It is expected to capture 90% of the CO2 emissions from its exhaust gas and then use this for enhanced oil recovery.

Additionally, as reported in last month’s issue of World Coal, GE Power reached a significant milestone for clean coal with the establishment of its Powering Efficiency Center of Excellence. Through combining cross-business experts in its energy businesses to apply a total plant hardware and software solution approach, it aims to increase efficiency and greatly reduce the emissions of the world’s new and existing coal-fired power plants.

Last week, the IEA Clean Coal Centre’s biennial international conference on clean coal technologies, CCT2017, took place in Sardinia. With over 27 technical sessions, keynotes and plenaries and panels, the conference was a testament to the latest clean coal innovations and milestones made by the industry.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) was highlighted throughout the conference, and various technical sessions looked at new technologies (such as IGFC and IGCC technologies, chemical looping and advanced CO2 separation membranes). The final day concluded on the status of CCS and its future.

At the conference, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) demonstrated its commitment to developing advanced clean coal technology, for example, discussing their Nakoso 250 MW IGCC plant and its performance, reliability and operating achievements. Ongoing commitment and continuous developments highlight the importance of clean coal and the ability to reduce global emissions while providing reliable power.

So while renewables are increasing their market share, coal won’t be giving up without a fight. Clean coal could give some stiff competition given the continued commitment and advancements by the industry to develop advanced and efficient technology. To read about the latest developments, implementations and achievements in the sector, head over to our Power Section on