WCA Report: The Power of High Efficiency Coal

"The Power of High Efficiency Coal" is the newest report from WCA that considers the benefits of HELE coal technologies against non-HELE and renewables.

Introduction

HELE coal-fired generation mitigates more CO2 emissions than renewables per dollar of investment.

Emerging economies require coal for more than just safe, reliable and affordable energy.

Coal is also set to play a critical role in achieving the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Over the coming decades, urbanisation and industrialisation will increase as SDGs are realised.

This explains why many countries identified a role for high efficiency, low emission (HELE) coal technology in their Nationally Determined Contributions – the foundation on which the recently agreed Paris Agreement is built. 

IN SUMMARY:
  • Introduction
  • The benefits of substituting subcritical coal with HELE coal-fired power generation
  • The greater benefits of HELE coal-fired generation relative to renewables
  • Resources

The benefits of substituting subcritical coal with HELE coal-fired power generation

Despite the higher initial capital outlay, investment in supercritical coal is a cost-effective way to reduce CO2 emissions across the developing world.

While there are clear environmental benefits to deploying HELE technologies, around 18% of coalfired capacity currently under construction or under development will use subcritical technology. In Africa, this figure increases to 28% of capacity in the project pipeline.

Moreover, for many proposed projects the technology choice has not been finalised. This represents a significant opportunity to influence the type of technology that developers select.

With limited financing options available from development banks developers may accept lower efficiency and poorer emissions rates due to capital cost differences between subcritical and HELE technologies.

The greater benefits of HELE coal-fired generation relative to renewables

The problem with increasing funding for the deployment of renewable generation is that its low load factor means that per dollar of investment, it substitutes for much fewer MWh of subcritical generation than is the case with HELE coal-fired generation.

Resources

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The Power of High Efficiency Coal

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Data sources - The Power of High Efficiency coal

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HELE technology explainer