Coal's Contribution to 
Sustainable Development


Preston Chiaro

   Preston Chiaro, Chair of the International Energy Agency's Coal Industry Board recently talked about the growing energy demand and pressures at the World Bank Energy meeting in Washington, D.C. 
In 2004 world primary energy consumption increased by 4.3 percent. For the third year running, coal was the fastest growing fuel, increasing by 6.3 percent.
    Why coal? It's safe, affordable, reliable, plentiful and increasingly clean. Thirty-nine percent of the world's electricity is produced using coal. Coal is the main fuel for electricity in the United States, Germany, China, India, South Africa, Australia, and much of central Europe. Seventy percent of the world's steel is produced using coal.
    Coal is a necessary role in a developing world. In 2002 the world population was six billion and growing, and had 1.6 billion people without access to electricity, and 2.4 billion reliant on primitive/erratic sources. It is projected in 2030 the world population will be 7.5 billion and growing with 1.4 billion people without access to electricity and 2.6 billion still reliant on primitive or erratic sources.
    China has 700 million people with an electrification rate of 99 percent. China's generation industry is 77 percent dependent on coal. South Africa's electrification rate doubled in a decade (35% to 66%) and the generation industry is 90 percent dependent on coal.
    World primary energy consumption will increase 60 percent. Two thirds of that increase arises in developing countries. China and India account for more than two thirds of the increase in global coal use. CO2 emissions are projected to increase by 60 percent. Two thirds of the increase in CO2 emissions will arise in developing countries. Contribution of CO2 emissions growth attributable to oil 37%; coal 33%, and gas 30%. The current carbon emissions are 7 Gt carbon per year and increasing. How big is one Gigaton? It would take 6,200 Sydney Opera Houses or 143 million African elephants. What will deliver one Gigaton of carbon mitigation? 700 1000MW nuclear stations, or 700 1000MW of coal fired capacity with CCS, or 300,000 5MW wind turbines covering the land area of Portugal. The world will need all of the safe and cheap nuclear, reliable and cheap renewables, and much more clean coal together with energy efficiency to meet projected energy needs. The oil and gas industries face similar environmental challenges as coal. Known reserves at current depletion levels are: Oil - 41 years. Gas - 67 years. Coal - 164 years (some countries around 500 years).


    Carbon capture and storage can play a major role. The Department of Energy in the United States has taken the initiative to ensure that America is fully prepared to implement this climate change mitigation option, a national network of public-private sector partnerships as been established. This network will determine the most suitable technologies, regulations, and infrastructure needs for carbon capture, storage and sequestration in different areas of the country. 
    For instance, it is determined that carbon sequestration must be implemented in the United States on a broad scale and in a relatively short timeframe (meaning over several years), it will take a concerted effort of federal and state agencies, working in cooperation with technology developers, regulators, and others, to put into place both the concepts and the necessary infrastructure to achieve meaningful carbon reductions. 

According to a special report on Carbon Capture & Storage 2005:
--No single technology option will provide all of the emissions reductions needed.
--Power plants with CCS could reduce CO2 emissions by 80-90 % net
--Applying CCS to power generation is estimated to increase costs by about US$0.01 or 0.05 kilowatt hour
--It is likely ( a probability between 66 and 90%) there is a technical potential of at least 2,000 GT CO2 storage capacity in geological formations
(Ocean storage could add thousands of GT to this capacity)
--In most scenarios, CCS reduces costs of stabilizing CO2 concentrations by 30% or more
Observations from engineered and natural analogues, as well as models, suggest that the fraction retained in appropriately selected and managed geological reservoirs is very likely to exceed 99% over 100 years, and is likely to exceed 99% over 1,000 years.
The International Energy Agency projected costs of US$16 trillion will be needed to meet global demand in next 30 years. US$4 billion of that amount will be for coal-fired power generation. Carbon emission charges of about US$100/tC would enable commercialization of CCS and all other necessary technologies.
Can coal deliver in the 21st century? It will need to play a substantial role in:
--To confront energy poverty 
--To fuel economic development 
--To maintain living standards 
--To enhance energy security.
The 21st century needs clean power, and this can be realized through carbon capture and storage. 
The 21st century needs coal, safe, affordable, reliable, plentiful and increasingly clean. cl




This article is protected by United States copyright and other intellectual property laws. The article may not be reproduced, rewritten, distributed, redisseminated, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast, directly or indirectly, in any medium without the prior permission of Coal Leader, Inc. Copyright 2006, Coal Leader, Inc. All rights reserved.