ASEAN to continue rely on coal, seeks clean coal technology

ASEAN to continue rely on coal, seeks clean coal technology

Thursday, September 04, 2014 – 08:08AM GMT+7

By Thomas Sembiring and Donald Haromunthe

Member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will continue to rely on coal to fuel their expanding power plants over the next two decades, but are increasingly aware of the environmental hazard of coal, an industry workshop has concluded.

“Demand for electricity here (Southeast Asia region) is increasing fast,” said Shigeru Kimura, Special Advisor on Energy Affairs at the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), during a workshop Wednesday in Jakarta held by the International Energy Agency and the ASEAN Center for Energy.

Electricity demand in ASEAN is projected to triple between 2011 and 2035, with average annual growth rate of 4.7 percent. Kimura said that coal-fired power plants will continue to play key role in supplying the growing electricity demand because of the relatively cheaper power they produced.

Indonesia, the world’s largest exporter of thermal coal, is expected to continue to become key supplier for the region’s coal requirement as the country has the advantage of close proximity compared to other key exporters such as Australia or the US.

Thailand, for instance, is projected to increase the composition of coal in its energy mix to 12 percent in 2030 from 9 percent in 2012 as the country moves to more than double the capacity of its power plants to 70,686 MW from more than 32,395 MW, said Deputy Director of Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, Jiraporn Sirikum.

Jiraporn said that much of the coal will be imported from Indonesia.

Kimura, however, said that while coal is quite popular as a key source of fuel for power plants in the region, there has been growing awareness on the negative impact of the commodity to the environment particularly in terms of the high emission. Another key issue is long-term security supply of coal. The two issues were the main topics of discussion during the workshop as ASEAM member countries seek the proper and affordable clean coal technology to help deal with the problems.

Existing carbon capture technology has yet to be commercially proven. Participants at the workshop also discussed other types of technology including super critical and ultra-super critical, which are believed to be more environmentally friendly than conventional technology.

The results of the workshop will be further discussed at the upcoming September 22 ASEAN Energy Meeting Vientiane, Laos.

Editing by Reiner Simanjuntak

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