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1/11/13

Clean coal can plug UK's energy gap

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Clean coal can plug UK's energy gap

Diagram of a coal gasification plant

Mitsui Babcock, a UK-based world leader in green clean coal technologies, has called on the Government to commit to investing in carbon abatement solutions to rectify the UKs security of energy supply and carbon emissions predicament within its next term of office. Speaking in London, Iain Miller, chief operating officer of Mitsui Babcock, said: The UK energy industry is at the crossroads of unprecedented significance. Worldwide, there is a growing need for greater power supply and a corresponding year-on-year rise in carbon emissions. At the same time, dwindling oil and gas reserves along with geopolitical instability are pushing oil and gas prices higher while countries and industries face tougher emissions reduction regulations. The reality is that coal currently provides a third of the UKs energy. It will continue to be a critical source of power in the medium term but has been largely ignored since the introduction of the energy white paper last year. The UK Government must take the lead on delivering a balanced energy policy which recognises the importance of coal to achieving security of energy supply, and of clean coal technologies in reducing carbon emissions to meet current targets. Solutions are available now that will achieve these aims, but industry will not commit to carbon abatement improvements without active leadership from Government.
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1/11/13

Clean coal can plug UK's energy gap

At a London press briefing Mitsui Babcock outlined a five point action plan to accelerate progress: 1.The Government must increase its investment in cleaner coal research development and demonstration to at least 20m per year - 50m per year if its global leadership ambitions are to be realised. 30m should be earmarked toward a 100m retrofitting of an existing power plant with clean coal technology. 2.The Government must actively support clean coal technologies now, acknowledging that in the mid-term they offer the best complement to renewable energy plans (CO2 emissions increased in the UK by 1.5 per cent last year). 3.The Government should seek to maximise environmental trade opportunities through exports and technology transfer to markets such as China, linking its policies for innovation, climate change and trade by supporting investment in retrofitting cleaner coal technologies to existing plants (Britain only accounts for 2 per cent of coal burned worldwide). 4.The Government should secure confidence and commitment from the power industry by guaranteeing a return to those who invest in 'best available technologies' for carbon abatement of coal fired plants thorough a mechanism similar to the renewables obligation. 5.The Government must take a proactive approach to nuclear power and act soon if it is to have a new-build programme up and running in time to prevent an increase in carbon emissions and to replace the existing nuclear fleet as it is retired. The Government must now initiate the licensing process for the latest types of reactor. Presented at the briefing was Mitsui Babcocks supercritical clean coal technology - a solution that reduces emissions by 20 per cent and in doing so meets current UK emissions reduction target levels. Further reductions can be achieved through the complementary introduction of biomass fuels. Iain Miller added Mitsui Babcock is not alone in concerns that the UK is in danger of both missing emissions commitments and risking future power shortages while proven, cost-effective and environmentally sensitive clean coal technologies are available for use now. The UK's fleet of coal and nuclear plants is ageing and many are set to close. The cost of installing clean coal technology across the coal fired fleet could be achieved at almost half the cost of achieving equivalent reductions using renewable sources. Mitsui Babcock believes the UK power generation industry would invest in clean coal technology tomorrow if the Government gave much-needed commitment and direction to the industry today. You can examine Babcock Mitsui's Review on Clean Coal here (440KB pdf)

Embrace clean coal technology or lights go out


The UK Government must embrace clean coal technology or the nation's lights will go out, argues Mitsui Babcock's Mike Farley. While the recent energy review set out a strategy for the long term, Mr Farley says urgent action is needed to bridge a looming "energy gap". The UK Government must be applauded for courageously taking steps to reduce emissions in its energy review - it is
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1/11/13

Clean coal can plug UK's energy gap

The UK Government must be applauded for courageously taking steps to reduce emissions in its energy review - it is certainly a huge step in the right direction. However, it offers little room for optimism in the short-term. By failing to act on the immediate supply and pricing issues it is failing to deliver on a number of objectives that it set itself. Demand for energy is rising, yet the nation now faces a 20 GW power shortage by 2016. A large proportion of our current supply is gradually being shut down in the next 10 years as old power plants are retired. At the same time demand is expected to increase. Unless we do something the threat of power cuts will grow and grow every year, destabilising energy prices. The big omission in the energy review is that it overlooks last winter's shock gas prices and supply problems. As a result, the review's plan of action focuses on the long-term at the expense of the short-term energy gap and supply issue. It is worrying to see the government taking a "fingers crossed" approach with electricity supplies until 2019 when the first of the possible new nuclear plants would become operational. If we don't fill some of that gap then we will have more of the very problems that the energy review was supposed to prevent. If the UK is to avoid the gap, we need to ensure a large number of new or replacement clean coal power plants will soon be operational. To fill a 20 GW deficit we need to build at least 2 GW of plant each year, for 10 years. Clean Coal is the perfect complement to nuclear, gas and renewables, ensuring we don't put all our eggs in one basket. Gas prices are rising; nuclear is for the longterm and while wind farms are clean they only provide energy on an intermittent basis. So why does the energy review still leave uncertainty about whether clean coal has full government commitment? Fuelling the future Clean coal technologies include methods to improve efficiency and methods of carbon dioxide "capture and storage", where the gas is stored underground. Simply improving the efficiency of coal-fired generation can reduce emissions by up to 40% if you also include biomass co-firing, and the capture and storage option would trap 90% of carbon dioxide emissions. Adopting clean coal to fill the immediate energy gap would also help us set the right example internationally and encourages the meeting of emissions targets globally Ministers should be encouraging the owners of Britain's existing coal plants to clean up their act. It should not be delaying decisions on incentives for carbon capture and storage technology. While Germany has interpreted the Europe-wide Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to encourage the investment in clean coal, the UK just keeps

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1/11/13

Clean coal can plug UK's energy gap

Europe-wide Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to encourage the investment in clean coal, the UK just keeps postponing decisions. Coal is something we have in abundance. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), proven coal reserves worldwide are equivalent to almost 200 years of production at current rates and exceed those of oil (36-44 years) and gas (66 years) by a wide margin. Coal can be stockpiled safely and its supply increased quickly whenever it is needed. Example setting The Clean Coal Task Group, a cross-industry initiative, would like to see the government maintaining the present number of coal-fired power stations in the UK, progressively converting them to clean technology, and setting a green example for the rest of the world to follow. The technology would not only ensure the UK has a reliable source of electricity and make a massive contribution towards cutting emissions, but it will also help secure the future for thousands of people currently employed in coal mining and coal-fired power stations across the UK. Adopting clean coal to fill the immediate energy gap would also help us set the right example internationally and encourages the meeting of emissions targets globally. Countries such as China, India and the US produce more than 30 times more carbon emissions than the UK and must be encouraged to clean up their coal powered plants. Clean coal technology is the best solution for the short-term if we are to avoid overdependence on imported gas. It can reliably close the UK's immediate energy gap, within a diverse generation portfolio that secures energy supply. Because coal can be stockpiled, prices remain stable. Indeed, they have remained relatively stable for decades. Clean coal provides the means to achieve the objectives set out in the energy review. The energy review is just the first step. The government must take serious action now, or the lights will go out.
Mike Farley is director of Technology Policy Liaison at the energy services company Mitsui Babcock, and chairman of the TUC/DTI/Defra Clean Coal Task Group

See also Energy gap - an essay on options Doing without oil Eco-friendly energy
meditations
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