Coal's letter to Italy

AUSTRALIAN government representatives are meeting their counterparts from Indonesia and Italy, among others, today in Rome at a joint World Coal Association ‘Assocarboni’ workshop to discuss ways of implementing G20 energy efficiency goals though one did not strictly stem from the other.

Anthony Barich

The decision to hold the event in Italy is intended to send a message to the country’s government which has made life tough for coal operators of late.

Assacarboni is an association representing the entire coal value chain, from coal mining groups to electricity and steel producers, cement manufacturers, shipping firms, terminal operators, maritime agents, surveyors, engineering companies, boiler makers, bulk handling equipment manufacturers.

The workshop will discuss “practical action” to reduce emissions and meet European policy makers’ energy challenges, building on WCA’s ‘Warsaw Communique’ developed with the Polish Ministry of Economy last year outlining the ways that coal can be used to combat climate change.

Global energy and environment leaders at the workshop titled “Looking into the future for coal” will hear COP19 president Marcin Karolec, Poland’s Secretary for the Environment responsible for Climate Policy.

WCA CEO Milton Catelin said the Polish government was “working hard to ensure its energy supplies will continue to be met securely and affordably, while minimising impacts”, adding that coal provides over 80% of Poland’s electricity.

“Increasing the average global efficiency of coal-fired power plants to 40% – with off-the-shelf technology – would save around two gigatonnes of CO2 annually,” Catelin said.

“This is a huge contribution – equivalent to India’s total annual CO2 emissions. This workshop will focus on how we can progress these technologies and ensure developed and developing countries alike can continue to exploit the full potential of coal, while minimising environmental impacts.

Assocarboni chairman Andrea Clavarino said the decision to host the 2014 annual workshop in Rome was “highly significant”, given “Italy’s energy policies have made life difficult for coal operators in recent times”

“Italian companies have been forced to cope with prices up to 50% higher than the European average, as the country depends on natural gas and renewables to meet over 70% of its energy needs,” Clavarino said.

“Despite the fact that our plants have obtained all the stringent EMAS [Eco-Management and Audit Scheme] certifications and boast an average efficiency of 39%, with peaks of 46%, yet the share of coal in the Italian electricity mix remains stuck at 12%.

“This event should therefore serve to send a message to Italy’s policymakers about the important role coal continues to play in this day and age on a global level.”