(EnergyAsia, April 2 2013, Tuesday) — The World Coal Association (WCA) has described a new report released by the board advising the International Energy Agency (IEA) as “an important step on the pathway to near-zero emissions coal”.

Milton Catelin, WCA’s chief executive, said the report provides an important piece of advice to policy makers on the role of coal in a carbon-constrained world as it demonstrates a “clear technological pathway” exists to provide cleaner energy access to the 1.3 billion people who lack it.

“We call on the IEA and other policymakers to heed the findings and latest recommendations of the Coal Industry Advisory Board’s (CIAB) report,” he said.

The “21st Century Coal – Advanced Technology and Global Energy Solution” focuses on improving efficiencies for advanced coal-fired power generation as a first step to reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

“An estimated 59 gigatonnes of reduced CO2 emissions from coal power could have been achieved, had new coal units over the past 50 years used the highest efficiency technology available when built,” said the report.

It discusses the “transformational potential” of carbon capture use and storage for achieving near-zero emissions from coal-fired power generation, including using enhanced oil recovery, to strengthen the business case for carbon capture and storage.

“Coal will remain the cornerstone fuel in the global energy economy for decades to come,” the report concludes as it urges the IEA to leverage its stature and undertake a special initiative to “re-educate” policymakers on coal’s merit and the use of better technology.

“Such an initiative would be highly constructive by contributing to a greater understanding of crucial energy issues on the part of policymakers and the public they serve. In turn, such understanding would enhance prospects for consensus between developed and developing world leaders on balanced policy measures to achieve the dual benefits to human civilisation resulting from increased energy access and advanced emissions technology.”

Mr Catelin said: “Energy access and climate change should be treated as integrated priorities. We urge governments, the international community and the IEA to recognise that the increasing demand for coal means its central role in the global energy system cannot be ignored. The IEA has a responsibility to educate the global community that coal and clean coal technologies are here to stay and will be an essential part of the global climate solution.

“We need to get serious about deploying carbon capture and storage – for gas as well as coal. But we can take much more effective, affordable and immediate action by supporting the deployment of high-efficiency, low-emission coal-fired power plants.

“The IEA’s own research has shown that deploying modern, highly efficient coal plants can reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 30% from coal-fired power generation and it can do this at a much lower cost than renewable energies. That means there are huge economic and climate benefits from building more efficient coal-fired power stations.”

Founded in 1985, the World Coal Association represents the world’s major international coal producers and stakeholders.

Established by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in July 1979, the Coal Industry Advisory Board (CIAB) comprises senior executives from international coal-related industrial enterprises who advise the IEA on a wide range of issues relating to coal.