“Let’s be clear, we cannot meet the world’s growing energy needs, tackle energy poverty and reduce global emissions without utilising all energy options available,” Buffier, who is also World Coal Association chairman, told the B20 forum held in parallel to the G20, which for the first time had a major focus on renewables.
He said it was essential that we recognise the vital role of coal in many countries, in particular in developing countries, and look at ways to reduce emissions from coal use.
Buffier said the International Energy Agency’s forecast that global electricity from coal will to grow by around 33% to 2040 shows coal will remain a key source of grid-based electricity.
Demand for coal in Southeast Asia alone is expected to increase 4.8% a year through to 2035, he said, so “he need for low emission technologies is clear”
“The reason for the growth in coal use is that there are very real energy needs to be met,” Buffier said, citing the oft-quoted figure of 1.3 billion people living in energy poverty.
He said 2.7 billion people – 40% of global population – don’t have clean cooking facilities and rely on dung and wood; thus “coal plays a critical role in bringing affordable, reliable electricity to hundreds of millions of people in developing and emerging economies, particularly across Asia”
Sub-Sahara African countries also need affordable and reliable baseload generation for larger urban areas and industrial growth, he said, as well as off-grid electricity for rural areas.
“Given the ongoing, vital role of coal, all low emission technologies are needed – particularly HELE power generation and CCS,” he said.
He also repeated the line the WCA is desperate to get across to key players in the United Nations’ Conference of Parties )COP21) forum in Paris next month: that raising the average efficiency of the global coal fleet from the current 33% to 40% with off-the-shelf technology would save 2 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions.
This is the equivalent to India’s annual CO2 emissions or running the Kyoto Protocol three times over.
Developing countries, however, need funding support for HELE technologies to avoid building low emission sub-critical power stations – which is why he was appealing to the G20’s key business leaders.
“We need a genuine commitment from governments to support all low emission technologies equally – only then will we make meaningful steps towards not only a low emission future but one where we have achieved global access to energy,” Buffier said.