Is coal still the goal for Africa?

  Despite the international movement away from carbon intensive sources of energy, coal still has a significant role to play, particularly in developing regions of the world. That’s the verdict […]

By Jonny Bairstow
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Despite the international movement away from carbon intensive sources of energy, coal still has a significant role to play, particularly in developing regions of the world.

That’s the verdict from Andre Bojé, CEO of coal exploration company Minergy, who spoke to ELN about the future of the fossil fuel resource yesterday.

Speaking ahead of the firm’s upcoming mine opening in Botswana, Mr Bojé said the country’s coal resources have until now remained largely untapped.

The firm plans to export the resource into overseas developing markets rather than compete with the surplus of power flooding the continent from South Africa.

Affordability

Mr Bojé said unlike developed nations, developing countries can’t afford nuclear power or rely on renewables without the support of expensive battery storage to overcome their inherent intermittency issues.

He added base-load power is needed to expand energy access and that as the cheapest form of energy, coal-fired generation was the best suited for the task.

Coal can be clean

The Minergy CEO told ELN coal emissions can be brought down to levels equivalent to those produced by natural gas power, through using technologies such as High Efficiency Low Emissions (HELE) plants.

He was less certain about the role of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies.

He said: “There was a lot of money pumped into CCS technology five to seven years ago… …how successful it is I don’t know.

“It seems to have, not died a death but gone very quiet, as compared to the other technologies like HELE.”

Ongoing demand

He added forecasts suggest there will be a coal shortage of around 380 million tonnes within 25 years, because coal-fired power stations will still exist and require fuel.

Mr Bojé told ELN: “Coal-fired power stations are there – they’re not going to go away.

“So somebody’s got to supply them but there’s been no investment in new coal mines because of the rhetoric around renewables and emissions.”