In Coal We Trust: The Need for Coal Power in Asia

The claim that aggressive climate change mitigation programs helps the poor is egregiously misleading. Modern coal plants are a success story, as pollutants emitted have fallen dramatically with technological improvements over the past several decades. Key pollutants that adversely affect human health include carbon monoxide, lead, sulfur dioxide (SO2), oxides of nitrogen (NOX), ground level ozone and particulate matter (PM). A new pulverized coal plant, with flue gas scrubbers, fabric filters, catalytic reduction and other control equipment and processes, reduces NOX by 83%, SO2 by 98% and PM by 99.8% compared to a similar plant without such pollution control features, according to the US Department of Energy.The second misleading claim is that intermittent sources of renewable energy can replace the need for grid-supplied power based on fossil fuels. According to data reported by energy generators to regulatory authorities in the US, wind and solar power are two to three times more expensive than existing coal or gas-fuelled power. It is no wonder then that the developing countries in Asia have little hesitation in supporting coal power generation as the quickest route to economic development and poverty alleviation. By early 2019, China had announced, permitted or was constructing almost 200 GW of coal power capacity, equivalent to over 75% of the entire operating US coal fleet (the world’s second largest after China). The relevant figures for India and countries in Southeast Asia are 95 GW and 75GW. China, India and Southeast Asia together account for 81.5% of global coal power capacity under construction, amounting to over 190 GW. Forbes