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WCA: IEA report recognises coal’s role in energy access

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World Coal,

The World Coal Association (WCA) has welcomed a new International Energy Agency (IEA) report detailing the significant role that coal has played in improving energy access around the world.

According to the report, in the last 16 years, nearly all of those who gained access to electricity worldwide did so through new grid connections, mostly from fossil fuels – 45% of which came from coal.

WCA Chief Executive, Benjamin Sporton, said: “This report highlights the historic strides made in developing and emerging Asia, where coal has been crucial to millions of people gaining access to electricity, in fact the report shows that coal has delivered nearly half of the improvement of that past 16 years. In India alone, 500 million people have gained access to electricity since 2000, almost doubling the country’s electrification rate – 75% of this came from coal.”

He continued: “With significant strides made in delivering energy access to urban populations the IEA report highlights the significant role that renewable technologies, and solar in particular, will play in electrifying rural and remote populations through mini and off-grid solutions. This means that coal’s role in delivering a “first connection” to new power will reduce; but 16% of those who gain access through to 2030 will still do so with coal meaning coal continues to play an important role in the world’s energy access targets.”

“We also need to do more to raise ambition in energy access. While the IEA has increased the ambition for its energy access target, it still sits well below even India’s per capita consumption today. Beyond basic first connections economic development and real energy access needs more than basic ‘light bulb’ solutions; it needs grids powered up to support business and industry and other essential social services, something this report largely ignores.”

“It’s in powered up grids in developing Asia and Africa where governments have identified a role for low emissions coal technology to meet their integrated energy access and climate objectives. 24 countries including major economies such as India, Nigeria and throughout Southeast Asia have identified low emissions coal technologies as critical to powering their economic development while reducing emissions in their Paris Agreement pledges.”

Sporton concluded: “This highlights the need for investment in a range of technologies, including coal. There is a perception that global energy access and climate objectives can be achieved without coal, a claim this report contradicts. That is why the World Coal Association continues to call for international support from development banks and other institutions for low emission coal technologies to be deployed where they are needed.”

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