High efficiency, low emission coal-fired electricity generation technology will play a critical role in South-East Asia’s future economic prosperity and climate policies.
A new report from the ASEAN Centre for Energy and the World Coal Association confirms that high efficiency, low emission (HELE) coal technology will provide affordable and reliable electricity to more than 600 million people in the region while dramatically reducing emissions.
The report conducts a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of climate, energy and sustainable development policies in ASEAN nations, which are set to increase their electricity demand significantly in coming years.
It finds that if ASEAN shifts its coal-fired power generation capacity to a modern, low emissions fleet by 2035, the region would reduce its cumulative emissions by 1.3 billion tonnes, equivalent to the annual emissions of the US, China and the European Union combined.
The new report is consistent with other projections by leading energy analysts. A recent report from the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies concluded that based on current national power plans, South East Asia’s coal capacity will reach 148 GW by 2025, a 139 per cent increase on 2015.
Coal will pass gas as South East Asia’s number one energy source before 2025, the OIES report concluded.
ASEAN is one of the fastest growing regions in the world with economic growth forecast to increase by over 6 per cent per year. Growth has already lifted millions from poverty and seen the number of people in the region without access to electricity halved over the past 20 years.
The International Energy Agency predicts ASEAN’s energy demand will increase by 80 per cent over the period to 2040. To meet this demand, secure reliable electricity is required and the report confirms that low emission coal will be the generation of choice. With the IEA forecasting coal to provide 50 per cent of electricity generation by 2040, ASEAN nations are looking to utilise low emission coal technology to deliver growth while also reducing emissions.
The report confirms that all forms of coal generation will be the lowest cost option for ASEAN nations in 2020 and 2035. The levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) figures show that even ultrasupercritical coal generation will cost less than all renewable options and gas-fired power generation options.
The report notes that ‘HELE reconciles international commitments to reduce carbon with the economic priorities of generating affordable and reliable electricity.’
Australians concerned with rising electricity costs and the increasing risk of unreliable electricity supply can learn from the pathway that ASEAN nations are forging with their investment in low emission coal technology.