Enlit Europe - The Guide: Season 3 June 2021 - A Just Transition - Page 28

How the reduce , reuse and recycle mantra can be applied to coal-fired power plants . By Hartmut Oehme

COAL-TO-GAS : A BRIDGE TO SUSTAINABILITY

How the reduce , reuse and recycle mantra can be applied to coal-fired power plants . By Hartmut Oehme

It is hard to imagine life today without electricity . It is fundamental to almost every part of our daily lives , whether at work or leisure .
The United Nations development goals point out that improved access to electricity worldwide is critical to alleviating poverty .
This , however , needs to be set against the growing concerns of climate change . There is a genuine need to decarbonize electricity generation to reduce CO2 emissions and meet at least the 2OC target of the Paris Accords .
But this is where a very real dichotomy occurs . At present , coal plays a vital role in electricity generation worldwide , with coal-fuelled power plants currently generating 38 per cent of global electricity .
In some countries , coal fuels a higher percentage of electricity . Despite protestation from within the coal industry , coal should have no role to play in the future electricity generation landscape .
When considering the road to a carbon-free future , it must be remembered that the energy transformation around the world is starting from different places and will proceed at a different speed .
The increasingly ambitious CO2 targets that are being set deliver a significant gap in outcomes that need to be closed . Three pathways can be followed to achieve this – the transition of the power generation mix , efficient energy management , and improved energy efficiency .
Today there is little economic reason to convert legacy coal fleets to gas ; the driver is the pressure to decarbonize that is being driven by regulation and public opinion worldwide .
Looking at power generation , this transition follows three distinct time-based pathways . In the short term , it will be converting coal generation to natural gas , while supporting this through the mid-term , it will be aggressive renewable growth .
However , this is all driving us to the long-term solution to convert this natural gas infrastructure into a sustainable hydrogen ecosystem .
The most obvious and most common solution for the decarbonisation of the power generation sector has been , and is , the replacement of old , badly polluting technology by new , higher efficient , less greenhouse gases ( GHG ) and particulate matteremitting technology – a bit like dumping your 20-year-old 6-cylinder petrol engine car at the
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