4 July 2005 - Coal-based fuels will be a major energy source in the coming years with clean coal technologies coming to the fore, predicted Gerald Doucet, secretary general of the World Energy Council (WEC), speaking at the Keynote Session of POWER-GEN Europe in Milan last week.
He said that coal-to-liquid fuel and carbon sequestration would be among the technologies employed to address environmental concerns. Doucet said that increasing prices meant that on a "full cost basis" gas was only a marginally better fuel source than coal. "If the cost of carbon sequestration could be brought down closer to the price at which C02 is traded it would allow for much increased use of coal."
Doucet spoke of the WEC's concerns over the forthcoming G8 meeting. "The focus may be too heavy on C02 issues and not enough on the needs of the third of the world's population without electricity supplies as well as the very important need for investment in the sector," said Doucet. On the subject of nuclear power Doucet predicted that European countries, including Italy, would be revisiting the nuclear power option in the near future. He said that the UK would probably be the first to address the issue and that the USA and Canada were also likely to consider new nuclear developments.
Guiseppe Zampini, chief executive officer of Ansaldo Energia, echoed Doucet's views. "I believe Europe will see new nuclear build in the next ten years," said Zampini. "I hope there will be a serious discussion based on technology issues and on safety without prejudices." Zampini commented that Italy's earlier decision to abandon any nuclear power programme was not made on a rational basis.
Representing the director of Energy and Mineral Resources from Italy's Ministry of Productive Activities, Dr Marcello Capra told delegates that Italy was continuing to liberalize its power market in order to develop the retail market. He said that all customers would have the choice of supplier by 2007. Italy is looking to increase energy diversification and this would mean coal use increasing as a replacement for oil. In order to address environmental concerns over coal, Italy is taking a close interest in the US DOE's FutureGen initiative and is a member of the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum.
Capra said that Italy was also looking outwards and had signed agreements with France covering nuclear development, research and development, combined cycle technology and interconnectors. It is also playing a role in establishing a regional energy market in the Balkans and has new energy transport links to this region, towards Greece and Turkey and to Tunesia.