Low-carbon drive can’t ignore coal, says Poland

14 November 2013
By Edd Gent
Mobile version
Share |
Smoke billows from the chimneys of Belchatow Power Station in Poland, Europe's largest coal-fired power plant

Smoke billows from the chimneys of Belchatow Power Station in Poland, Europe's largest coal-fired power plant

Poland says governments cannot ignore coal when considering how to move to a low-carbon economy.

The country has angered environmentalists and put the United Nations in a quandary by planning a coal industry summit next week on the sidelines of the 11-22 November UN talks among 200 nations seeking ways to slow global warming being hosted in Warsaw.

But the government says countries must find ways to cut emissions from coal, a cheap and often highly polluting energy source that generates 40 per cent of world electricity, and not pretend that it will simply wither away in favour of greener energies.

"Coal is still the basic source of energy in many countries in the world. So a transition period is needed," deputy environment minister Beata Jaczewska said of the 18-19 November meeting organised by the World Coal Association (WCA) and Poland's economy ministry.

Environmentalists say coal distracts from a UN drive to restructure the world economy around cleaner options, from hydropower to geothermal power, and some also object to efforts to capture and bury the carbon emissions from coal.

"Coal is not the solution," said Martin Kaiser of Greenpeace. He called the coal talks a "slap in the face" to developing nations that are suffering extreme weather and want rich countries to take the lead in phasing out fossil fuels.

Coal-fired power plants are the biggest single source of manmade greenhouse gas emissions blamed by a UN panel of climate scientists for pushing up temperatures and causing more heatwaves, droughts and rising sea levels.

But Milton Catelin, head of the WCA, told Reuters that the coal meeting was a "constructive contribution" towards a UN deal, meant to be agreed in 2015, to slow global warming.

"We can burn coal more cleanly. It's not science fiction," he said.

He added that raising the overall efficiency of the world's coal-fired power stations to the standards of a modern plant would cut global carbon dioxide emissions by about 2.4 billion tonnes, roughly the equivalent of India's total emissions.

Poland generates 90 per cent of its electricity from coal. Among European Union members, it has been one of the most reluctant to toughen the existing goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.

Christiana Figueres, the UN's climate chief who says the world should aim to eliminate net carbon emissions by the second half of the century, rejected an appeal by environmentalists to cancel plans to attend the coal meeting.

"I will speak to the coal industry to show them that they can and must immediately deploy policies and technologies to lower their industry's carbon footprint more swiftly and urgently," she said.

She said, however, that she would not endorse a communique at the summit that Catelin of the WCA said he hoped Figueres would sign, that calls for immediate use of "high-efficiency low-emissions coal combustion technologies" and urges development banks to step up lending for coal projects even though the World Bank and others are cutting back.

As head of a UN group, "I would not be involved in any communiques by external groups", she said in an email.

Poland is among nations planning investments in coal and has also sought to develop cleaner-burning shale gas, which has helped the USA cut its greenhouse gas emissions. The nation's plans include construction of a 1.08GW coal plant by 2017 by the country's third-biggest power producer, Enea, in Kozienice, central Poland.

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1607

"As the dust settles after the referendum result, we consider what happens next. We also look forward to an international summer of sport."

E&T jobs

  • Chair in Integrated Sensor Technology

    The University of Edinburgh
    • Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh

    The University of Edinburgh is one of the world’s top 20 institutions of higher education.....

    • Recruiter: The University of Edinburgh

    Apply for this job

  • Principal Electrical Engineer - Power

    BAE Systems
    • Bristol, England / Cumbria, Barrow-In-Furness, England
    • Negotiable

    Principal Electrical Engineer - Power Join our Electrical Power team and help design the self-contained generation and distribution system for the Successor submarine - a new generation of submarine designed to carry the UK's independent nuclear deterrent

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Operations Supervisor (Mechanical/Electrical/Instrumentation)

    National Grid
    • England, Cambridgeshire
    • £33000 - £39000 per annum

    Operations Supervisor - (Mechanical/Electrical/Instrumentation) Salary: Circa £33k - 39k dependant on experience + vehicle and great additional benefits (share scheme, pension, potential bonus).Location: Wisbech - Cambridgeshire We currently have an excit

    • Recruiter: National Grid

    Apply for this job

  • Lead NDT Trainer

    BAE Systems
    • England, Lancashire
    • Competitive package

    Would you like to be involved with training UK and international teams in Non Destructive Inspection (NDI) to support the in service fleet (Typhoon Tornado, and Hawk)?

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Systems Design - Emerging Portfolio

    MBDA
    • Bristol
    • Competitive Salary & Benefits

    What?s the opportunity?   There are fantastic opportunities in Systems Design for engineers to work within Future Systems. These are highly visible, fast paced roles, in...

    • Recruiter: MBDA

    Apply for this job

  • Metering Engineer

    Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
    • Teddington, United Kingdom
    • £24,109 - £27,961 plus EO Electronics PE of £8,090.00

    We are now looking for a Metering Engineer to deliver RD’s In-Service Testing (IST) scheme for gas and electricity meters.

    • Recruiter: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

    Apply for this job

  • Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) of Smart Building Solutions

    Premium job

    ETH Zurich
    • Zurich, Canton of Zürich (CH)

    The successful candidate is expected to develop a strong and visible research programme in the area of control and diagnostics of building systems

    • Recruiter: ETH Zurich

    Apply for this job

  • Process Controls Leader

    Premium job

    Phillips 66
    • Humber Refinery, South Killingholme, North Lincolnshire DN40 3DW
    • £60k - 75k plus extensive Compensation and benefits package, dependent upon experience

    Experienced Process Control Leader providing leadership and technical support for Oil Refinery. Extensive Compensation and benefits package.

    • Recruiter: Phillips 66

    Apply for this job

  • Regional Technical Support Manager

    Premium job

    Siemens
    • Warwick, Warwickshire

    You will be required to lead the regional Customer Services strategy and resources to maximise Customer satisfaction.

    • Recruiter: Siemens

    Apply for this job

  • PLM Engineer (Product Lifecycle Management)

    BAE Systems
    • Shropshire, England, Telford
    • Negotiable

    PLM Engineer (Product Lifecycle Management) Would you like a varied role that involves working across all engineering functions within BAE Systems Land UK? We currently have a vacancy for a PLM Engineer at our site in Telford with occasional travel within

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶

Subscribe

Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T