The chief executive of the World Coal Association has highlighted the importance of cleaner coal technologies in Asia as the region turns to coal to meet its booming energy demand.

Speaking at the Asia Pacific Energy Research Centre Annual Conference in Tokyo, Benjamin Sporton said: “For many countries coal is the fuel of choice because it is easily accessible, affordable and reliable. It helps build strong competitive economies”.

According to the International Energy Agency, Southeast Asia is forecast to see coal demand growth of 4.8 per cent a year through to 2035. The IEA also estimates electricity from coal in China is forecast to grow to 5545 TWh in 2040 compared to 3812 TWh today.

The conference also heard from government representatives and energy experts that coal is expected to remain the dominant source of electricity in the APEC region through to the 2040.Coal in Asia

“The huge role that coal is playing, and is forecast to play, in the APEC region for decades to come highlights the imperative of international action on cleaner coal technologies,” said Sporton. “High efficiency, low emission coal-fired power generation can provide significant near term emission reduction benefits and is a key first step on the pathway to deploying carbon capture and storage.”

But he warned: “Without international support for cleaner coal technologies in the APEC region it will be all the more difficult to achieve global climate ambitions.”

He also highlighted the importance of modern coal technology in reducing other emissions from coal, noting that “in the United States, emissions of NOx, SOx and PM were reduced by between 82 and 96 per cent since 1970, while coal consumption increased by 146 per cent, pointing to the ability of technology to address concerns over air pollution”.

Sporton also called for carbon capture and storage to be given policy parity with other low emission sources of energy, highlighting that “feed in tariffs, power purchase agreements and contracts for difference are all tools that can be deployed”.

“Furthermore, greater political commitment is needed to making carbon capture and storage a reality in the region.”

He said lessons from the world’s first large commercially operating coal-fired power plant – the Boundary Dam project in Canada – “can be applied elsewhere to drive down the costs of CCS and help further deployment”.