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IEA Offers Roadmap to Next Generation Coal Power

IEA4 December 2012: In a new publication, titled “Technology Roadmap: High-Efficiency Low-Emissions Coal-Fired Power Generation,” the International Energy Agency (IEA) outlines a strategy for installing efficient, next generation coal-burning technologies.

According to the report, high-efficient low-emissions (HELE) technologies routinely reach efficiencies of 45%, with efficiencies exceeding 50% possible within the decade. This compares with the current global average efficiency of coal-fired power plants of only 33%, where three-quarters of operating power plants are more than 25 years old. Only half of new coal plants employed HELE in 2011. The IEA offers policy-makers a roadmap for increasing the global average efficiency to 37% within 10 years, highlighting that “if all coal plants in operation in 2010 were upgraded to this level, almost 350 million tonnes of coal per year could be saved.” This would be equivalent to an 11% savings over coal used in 2010.

The report notes that coal is likely to remain the largest source of global power for the foreseeable future, and says that HELE technologies in combination with carbon capture and storage, could cut average carbon emissions from coal plants by 90 percent, which is the level needed to limit the global average temperature increase to 2 degrees. The report also describes additional environmental and economic benefits from HELE technologies, including through the reduction of water use, air pollution, and plant operating costs.

The report has been published in English and Russian, with future plans for a Chinese version. [IEA Press Release] [Publication: Technology Roadmap: High-Efficiency Low-Emissions Coal-Fired Power Generation]