Enabling Clean-Coal Technologies in Emerging Asia

by Han Phoumin
June 5, 2015

This working paper discusses the rapid increase of coal use in coal-fired power generation to meet growing electricity demand in emerging economies of the East Asia Summit region and calls for policies to support the dissemination of clean-coal technologies (CCT) to abate carbon dioxide (CO2) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.



Coal will continue to be the dominant energy source for emerging Asia. In order to address rising electricity demand, emerging Asia will likely continue to build low-cost coal-fired power generation—low-efficiency coal-fired power plants. At the same time, compared with past decades, world leaders are taking climate change more seriously. The U.S. and China reached bilateral agreements to cooperate on clean energy development and mitigate GHG emissions, and the Obama administration has attempted to ban coal use abroad in order to abate CO2 and GHG emissions. Although the policy has its merits, it may force emerging Asia to seek non-OECD public financing, particularly from China, which is the largest coal public financier to emerging Asia. This scenario would result in the construction of less efficient coal-fired power plants, leading to increased CO2 and GHG emissions.

  • The Obama administration’s current policy approach of banning coal use abroad shouldbe reviewed. The U.S. should work to helpemerging Asia afford CCT, providing that there are few available alternative energy options for the regionin the medium term to meet energy demand.
  • To deliver public financing for CCT to emerging Asia,it is necessary to lower the upfront costs of ultra-supercritical technologies, which are currently higher thansupercritical and subcritical technologies, through attractive financing and loan schemes or strong political institutions.
  • A policy framework should clearly state the corporate social responsibilities of developed and developing nations, respectively, by highlighting the near-and long-term policy measures toward the coal industry and coal-fired power generation. R&D intocommercialcarbon capture and storage should be accelerated.