EUCERS returned in full force on 1st September 2011 with a specialist workshop on the future of coal and the prospect for Carbon Capture Storage (CCS) and clean coal technologies.
The meeting organised in conjunction with the Atlantic Council, an independent body committed to promoting transatlantic cooperation, included high-profile speakers such as Gery Juleff, Head, Wider Energy Security Team at the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office and James F. Wood, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Coal, at the US Department of Energy.
Their speeches were preceded by power point presentations from Dr Frank Umbach, Associate Director of EUCERS and Pamela Tomski, managing partner at EnTech Strategies, a Washington-based consultancy specialising among others in the commercial deployment of CCS systems.
US guests shared their experiences in tackling environmental pollution resulting from the use of dirty fossil fuels such as coal. They highlighted a number of programmes, currently on the agenda of the US Department of Energy, designed to capture emissions which can then be reused for industrial purposes.
One example included the HECA project in California which aims to produce hydrogen fuel for a local power plant through the gasification of petroleum coke waste streams from nearby oil refineries.
The plant which benefits from CCS technologies will be used to offset any imbalances on the transmission lines resulting from intermittent generation from wind and solar outfits.
European panellists from the academia, energy companies, lobby groups and consultancies acknowledged the need for CCS and clean coal technologies, but pointed out that as long as the European Union does not adopt a coherent strategy that would entail appropriate funding, member states would not be able to implement such equipment on a large scale.
They argued that of all EU member states only the UK had a coherent climate change strategy, claiming that other countries had rushed to implement clean technologies, often ignoring the potential public backlash.
They also pointed out that the onus was not only on the EU and the US to fight climate change, but on all countries, including energy-hungry China and India.
Members of the international coal lobby also pointed out that coal was and would remain the choice fuel for power generation in the short to medium-term. Panellists noted that Brussels had taken a rather “short-sighted” view regarding the EU’s reliance on coal, by ordering the closure of mines in Germany, Spain and Romania in recent years, quoting high domestic labour and mining costs.