WCA writes to Jakarta Post

23rd Nov 2016

Dear Editor,

Re: David de Jager - New coal technology won’t solve climate woes

I write in response to an article written by David de Jager, Principal Consultant, Ecofys Netherlands B.V., published in the Jakarta Post on Monday November 7, 2016: New coal technology won't solve climate woes

Indonesia is one of the most populous countries in the world – the fourth largest– with over 250 million people and also has one of the world’s energy-poor populations. About 39 million Indonesians have no access to electricity.  This is extraordinary for a country with a vast array of energy resources such as oil, gas and abundant coal.

As with other developing and emerging economies, Indonesia’s socio-economic success will also be directly tied to its ability to provide stable, reliable and affordable energy for all its citizens. Indonesia is actually the largest consumer of energy in Southeast Asia, accounting for more than 36% of the region’s total energy demands. And this is expected to increase by 7% per annum. This means the country needs to look at all available energy sources in order to meet the population’s demand.

Coal happens to be plentiful, affordable, powerful and reliable. Indonesia’s National Energy Board projects that coal will continue to make up about 25% of their energy mix by 2050. For Indonesia and many countries in Southeast Asia, excluding coal from the energy mix is not an option. Coal should be seen as critical to this development–The fuel currently provides 41% of the world’s electricity and is an essential raw material in the production of 70% of the world’s steel and 90% of cement. Without coal, industrial development in the majority world will be slower.

As well as providing energy for its people, Indonesia wishes to meet its Paris Agreement target. The question is can both goals be achieved without compromising on either?

We stand by our assertion that if Indonesia is to meet its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and at the same time implement the Paris Agreement, substantial investment in low emission coal technologies such as high efficiency low emission (HELE) coal and carbon capture use and storage (CCUS) is not just desirable but essential.

A recent IEA Clean Coal Centre report shows that Asian economies are adding a significant share of HELE coal fired power stations to their energy mix. The report finds that new HELE technologies are already reducing CO2 emissions by an estimated 479 million tonnes a year across ten countries in the region. HELE coal technologies are commercially available and proven to result in immediate CO2 emission reductions of up to 30%. Importantly HELE is a vital first step to CCUS, and CCUS is essential in global efforts to reduce CO2 emissions – it can reduce emissions from coal by up to 90%.

At WCA we believe that countries using coal like Indonesia need to upgrade existing plants and build new HELE coal-fired power plants. In doing this the country can enjoy the reliability, stability and affordability that on-grid power provides while at the same time addressing climate concerns by significantly reducing emissions. That’s why in September, we held a joint workshop with the Indonesian government to discuss the country’s potential to deploy HELE technologies.

Indonesia needs all the support it can get to pursue HELE coal-fired plants and CCS technologies.

Benjamin Sporton
Chief Executive
World Coal Association

First published in Jakarta Post on 23 November 2016