Last week saw mixed messages regarding future investment in coal-fired power plants, but the IEA Clean Coal Centre says failing to engage with the sector will not provide a happy ending from a decarbonisation perspective.
One of the biggest Nordic investment funds, Nordsea, announced that it will no longer fund coal-fired power plants. However, earlier last week, an unpublished European Commission paper advocated providing export credits to European coal-fired plant manufacturers developing plants abroad.
The same document proposed preferential loans continue for more-efficient coal-fired power plant, or clean coal technology and the IEA believes it is being impartial in recommending a similar approach to more efficient technologies in the sector.
Head of Communications at IEA Clean Coal Centre, Deborah Adams, told Power Engineering International: “We believe that engagement is a better route to a cleaner environment than divestment. If international investments are not made, then some countries with limited electricity but access to cheap coal resources are more likely to build the lowest cost coal-fired power stations they can – which will have lower efficiencies and emit more pollutants.”
“If these same countries are assisted: financially, to build top of the range plant; and with information from the IEA CCC about high-efficiency low emission plant, then the environment benefits are clear.”
Adams described the European Commission paper’s support of clean coal technologies as a good compromise, given where renewables currently are in their development.
“We appreciate that many people do not want to see new coal-fired power plants being built at all, and are concerned about carbon lock-in, but the reality of over one billion people not having access to electricity and the distance we are from a 100% secure, renewable-based energy future means that some high efficiency, and relatively clean coal-fired power plant is a sound interim measure.”
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