July Ndlovu, Chairperson of the international, non-governmental organization, the World Coal Association, has emphasized the vital role coal will play with regards to long-term global energy security in the wake of geopolitical uncertainty effecting the worldwide energy value chain.
“Almost a year to the day, coal’s global journey took a new and dramatic turn, or more correctly, a series of turns,” Ndlovu stated.
“Europe was confronted by a plethora of unprecedented energy challenges including gas shortages, ongoing supply chain problems, price surges, and transportation bottlenecks. Additionally, droughts manifested the inability for renewables to deliver the continuous supply of energy that was promised,” added Ndlovu.
Serving as one of the world’s primary sources of energy, coal accounts for approximately 27% of total fuel consumption worldwide and remains an essential form of energy for over 80 countries, with Ndlovu stressing that nations should have the right to make their own energy choices.
“Coal continues to play a pivotal role in parts of the world where fuel choices are few,” continued Ndlovu. “This includes Asia, South Africa and a large part of the African continent, where millions of people still depend on coal for light, heat, food, employment, and transport – essentially the basics of life.”
In addition to its use as a source of electricity generation, coal is an essential product for the development of steel, cement and aluminum, which are critical for the construction of infrastructure and thus crucial for the socioeconomic development of developing nations.
Meanwhile, technological innovations in the coal industry are poised to usher a major transformation for the sector, with High-Efficiency Low Emissions offering a sustainable solution towards reducing CO2 emissions while Coal-to-Hydrogen production could result in coal plants being converted to run on clean hydrogen, with both technologies capable of being equipped with Carbon Capture and Storage systems.
“The fact remains that up to 99% of coal emissions, including CO2, can be eliminated through current and available abatement technologies,” stressed Ndlovu, concluding, “The past year has informed us all that we are at a major crossroads in our energy future, and we need to chart a new and truly ground-breaking way forward for this valuable and versatile commodity and the dynamic community that oversees it.”