EUROCOAL emphasises significance of state-of-the-art power stations with high efficiencies and low CO2 emissions

In the opinion of the European coal industry, the European Commission’s objective of maintaining a secure and economic supply of energy while also efficiently protecting the climate can be reached only with a balanced use of all available sources of energy. The three objectives of security of supply, affordability and environmental acceptability also remain valid in view of ambitious climate protection objectives. In its energy and climate package as well as in its proposal on CO2 Emissions Trading as from 2013, the EC must make sure that climate policy requirements be linked with the need for a wide-ranging energy mix. In view of the worldwide increase in energy demand, the importance of coal for power generation rose clearly in the past years. Currently, approximately 40 % of power generation in the world is based on coal, with approximately 30 % in Europe. Indigenous coal (including lignite) is available in large quantities in many EU Member States on a long-term basis.

The priority objective of policy makers and companies should be further to increase the efficiency of coal burn in power stations. With continuous modernisation, the oldest installations are replaced by the latest technology. This can substantially contribute to curbing CO2 emissions. In EURACOAL’s opinion, it however requires reliable and competitive conditions on an international scale. EURACOAL sees the EC’s obligation here. It concerns in particular the long-term design of Emission Trading, whereby EU Member States with widespread coal utilization need a fair solution, also taking into account their energy policy goals. More than before, the special characteristics of the fuel and the chosen technology must be considered. The European coal industry confirms that it continues to support balanced and innovative solutions such as the allocation of CO2 emissions by means of a fuel-specific benchmark while pursuing Emissions Trading after 2012.

According to EURACOAL, despite uncertainties concerning future framework conditions, very modern hard coal and brown coal power stations are currently being planned and built in Europe. Further increases in plant efficiencies that are possible today require substantial research and development. The results of technical progress need to be subsequently reflected in the framework of new investments. In this area, the EU can provide additional impetus by means of supporting measures. Innovative technologies for coal production and coal-fired power generation not only strengthen Europe’s economic development, but are also marketable worldwide.

In EURACOAL’s opinion, the development of the CO2-free power station is also promising. The 10 to 12 demonstration installation requested by the EU must be built without delay. Now, the issue is to also establish a secure technical, economic and legal framework for the storage of carbon dioxide. The coal industry’s assessment is that the relevant activities of the EU and its Member States are under substantial time pressure if the planned plants are to be on stream as from 2014.