World Coal group touts high-efficiency, low-emissions coal technology

The World Coal Association (WCA) announced March 23 the publication of the new flagship report “The Power of High Efficiency Coal.”

The report demonstrates the impact deploying high efficiency low emission (HELE) coal technologies has on delivering affordable energy while reducing CO2 emissions.

WCA said in the report that:

•High-efficiency coal-fired power generation mitigates more CO2 emissions than renewables per dollar of investment.

•By 2040, 1.1 billion tonnes of CO2 per year could be avoided by deploying low-emission coal technologies.

•Given the higher capital costs of renewable technologies and their lower load factors, in most regions, conversion to high-efficiency, low-emission technologies represents the lowest cost CO2 abatement alternative.

• The conversion of both 400 GW of sub-critical and 300 GW of supercritical capacity to ultra-supercritical capacity would cost around $81bn and save 13 billion tonnes of CO2 from 2015 through to 2040.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts that coal will continue to play an important role in power generation over the long-term. Indeed, the IEA projects that the share of coal in power generation will rise from 32% to 50% in Southeast Asia, WCA said.

Raising the average global efficiency of coal plants from 33% to 40% with the off-the-shelf technology that is available today would save 2 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions. “This is equivalent of running the Kyoto Protocol three times over,” WCA said in the report.

Launching the report, WCA Chief Executive Benjamin Sporton commented: “As we approach the signing of the Paris Agreement next month, it is important to recognize that HELE technologies are vital to its long-term success. Nationally Determined Contributions submitted by countries in the lead-up to COP21 are the foundation of the Paris Agreement and in many of those plans HELE coal technology plays a significant role.  The power of HELE technology needs to be understood.”

The new report also asserts that modern coal technology is one of the most affordable ways to reduce CO2 emissions while providing affordable electricity. 

“Our research shows that focusing on a shift away from the least efficient coal technology to more efficient coal technology represents the lowest cost option for reducing CO2 emissions. In Southeast Asia coal can generate electricity at close to half the price of gas and deploying high efficiency coal for power generation in Southeast Asia costs a fifth less than using wind. That’s why demand for coal is forecast to grow significantly in the region in the decades to come,” Sporton said.

To support implementation of the Paris Agreement the WCA has advocated for an international mechanism to be established to provide financial and other support necessary for countries to accelerate deployment of HELE technologies.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at