Supporting clean coal technology worldwide: The time is now


By State Rep. Dan Shaul, District 113

In the coming years, energy demands across the world are expected to rise exponentially. Demands within the developing economies in Southeast Asia, for example, are expected to increase by 80 percent. Power provided by clean coal technologies is affordable, easily accessible, reliable, and safe – and must be a part of the strategy global powers including the World Bank develop to meet this demand.

Over the past decade, the Obama Administration’s tough line on coal, articulated through the Clean Power Plan and EPA regulations, contributed to a 29 percent decline in this important domestic industry. The new administration has made a strong commitment to the American clean coal industry, and that is an important first step. The next will be to expand access to American clean coal technology worldwide to help roll back job losses and address the global demand for power.

Another example of how clean coal technology is positioned to fuel economic growth can be found in India, the world’s largest democracy and third-largest economy. Thus, it is an attractive international economic partner and ally. India is wracked by poverty despite its excellent science and engineering sectors. According to a 2015 World Bank analysis, 240 million rural and 72 million urban Indians live in poverty. Much of this is due to the fact that 300 million of the nation’s 1.25 billion inhabitants live without electrical power. An additional quarter-billion citizens can only rely on spotty accessibility, at best. Not surprisingly, India’s lack of electricity compounds its poverty epidemic.

For India and many developing nations in similar positions, coal is the most abundant and affordable form of energy, and can efficiently and safely bring power to those who need it. While countries invest in their energy sectors with a focus on renewable technologies, American clean coal technology can be used to retrofit coal-fired power plants to make them more efficient, and provide power in the interim.

American high-efficiency low-emissions (HELE) technology, for example, harnesses steam power to produce lower cost energy with fewer emissions. HELE plants provide an effective way of making power generation cleaner while keeping electricity prices low.

This clean coal technology is attractive to developing nations that want to be positive stewards of the environment while increasing energy production. The United States is the standard-bearer in HELE technology. It is essential that American technology is enabled to increase foreign energy access in order to support global development and good American jobs.

The U.S. has a unique opportunity to support developing nations’ energy journey by exporting HELE technology and carbon capture capabilities. Our leaders have made a pledge to support the coal industry, but still need to find new ways to grow the industry through meaningful actions. The upcoming meeting of the World Bank in Washington, D.C., is one such opportunity. I encourage American delegates to this meeting to support the use of American HELE technology in developing countries.