High tech clean coal is the future: Peabody

PEABODY Energy has produced a new report which it claims provides a blueprint for a safe, environmentally responsible, high-technology coal mining and energy generation.

Lou Caruana

Called “21st century coal’s role in the future of energy”, the report offers the most secure, available and cost-competitive means to meet the energy needs of growing nations, while supporting a transition to a low-carbon economy, the company said.

“The question is not whether the world will use more coal, but how nations can use more coal, more cleanly,” according to the report's authors, who add that the 21st century coal technologies provide a clear path forward given global demographics and growing need.

The report points to the experience of the United States, where research, development and deployment of advanced technologies have transformed coal use and created “a great environmental success story”

Over the past several decades, more than $100 billion has been invested by US utilities in environmental controls. Since 1970, coal used for electricity generation has increased by more than 170%, while key power plant emissions rates have been reduced by 90% per unit of electricity.

Highly efficient, commercial technologies available today are essential to accelerating the global transition to low-carbon, high-efficiency energy systems, according to the report's authors. Next-generation technologies, such as carbon capture, utilisation and storage, when commercialised, can build on this progress.

Coal has been the world's fastest growing major fuel for the past decade and today comprises more than 30% of global energy use – its highest share since 1970. Global industrialisation and urbanisation trends are driving this growth.

Peabody Energy CEO Gregory Boyce said: “Energy poverty is the defining crisis of our time. Ending it is a challenge the world must embrace.

“Citizens in nations with access to affordable power consistently enjoy better health and greater prosperity – and coal is at the foundation of this progress.”

Quoting the International Energy Agency, Boyce said coal is the largest source of power globally and, given its wide availability and low cost, it is expected to remain so for the foreseeable future.