According to the IEA’s Energy Access Outlook 2017 report, nearly all of those who gained access to electricity worldwide in the last 16 years, did so through new grid connections, mostly from fossil fuels – 45% of which came from coal. Coal is critical to socio-economic development. It currently provides 37% of the world’s electricity and is essential in the production of 75% of the world’s steel and 85% of cement.
For many developing countries, especially those in Southeast Asia, excluding coal from the energy mix is not an option because improved energy access drives economic development.
Rising coal use in ASEAN also highlights a need for greater focus on emissions reduction.
In a recently published report “HELE perspectives for selected countries” the IEA Clean Coal Centre (IEACCC), looked at the prospects of high efficiency low emission (HELE) coal technologies in selected ASEAN countries, including Malaysia.
The report highlighted Malaysia’s commitment to the use of the most efficient technologies including ultra-supercritical (USC).
HELE technologies can reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 35% compared to older less efficient technology. These technologies include supercritical (SC), ultra-supercritical (USC) and advanced ultra-supercritical (AUSC) technologies.
Malaysia has the third-largest economy in Southeast Asia and is also the third largest energy consumer in the region. In a recent WCA article, it was noted that since 2000, there has being an increasing role of coal in Malaysia’s electricity mix. Today the fuel makes up 25% of the country’s power mix; by 2040, coal is expected to make up almost 60%. It’s therefore no wonder that the country is choosing the best available technology to help it continue to use a fuel that is readily available and affordable.
Manjung 4 is Southeast Asia's first ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plant, generating enough electricity to power nearly two million households in Malaysia.
Situated on the Manjung Island, the plant generates 1000 megawatts (MW) of electricity and is considered Malaysia’s most efficient coal-fired power plant.
Together with its sister plants Manjung 1, Manjung 2 and Manjung 3, all with a total capacity of 2100 MW, the site now supplies 20% of Malaysia’s electricity. Manjung 4 is owned by the semi-governmental company Tenaga in conjunction with technical partner General Electric.
During a recent media trip, reporters were told that Manjung 4 has sophisticated environmental and air quality control technologies (AQCS), which can significantly reduce SOx and NOx emissions up to 70% compared to the other Manjung units. The technology at Manjung 4 also reduces CO2 emissions by about 4-5% – a reduction that can play a significant role on emissions control in the entire ASEAN region.
The plant uses cleaner coal technology such as Pulverised Fuel Firing (PFF), Flue Gas Desulphurisation (FGD), Electrostatic Precipitator (ESP), low sulphur sub-bituminous grade coal and low nitrogen oxide burners.
With state-of-the art HELE plants such as Manjung 4, Malaysia can benefit from affordable, reliable and accessible electricity from coal to support economic growth while significantly reducing emissions consistent with their climate objectives.
Using low emission coal technology also prepares Malaysia for carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS), which is critical to its long term climate ambitions.