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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 00:39 GMT 01:39 UK
Coal 'can be clean and reliable'
Hatfield mine
There has been a renewed interest in mining
New technology means coal can be both a clean and secure source of energy, according to a UK think-tank report.

High in carbon emissions - a key factor causing climate change - coal has typically been seen as a dirty fuel.

But the environmental damage can be reduced, says the report, and unlike some renewable energy it can also be stored and provided on demand.

The report by the Centre for Policies Studies comes in advance of the UK Energy White Paper, expected in May.

"New clean technologies are being developed around the world which can reduce the environmental impact of coal-fired generation," the report said.

These new techniques are "proven", the study added.

"Powerfuel's new development at Hatfield in Yorkshire is an example of how a new clean coal plant can be developed in practice," it said.

The site, near Doncaster, was reopened in 2006, as part of plans to revamp the colliery and develop a clean coal power station.

Political support

Developing clean coal in the UK would not only be good for the domestic market, the report argues.

It would also be an effective way of setting an example for developing economies, including China and India, so they could "take advantage of their own coal reserves" in an environmentally acceptable way.

But in order to make best use of coal, there needed to be clear political support to encourage investors and systematic planning rules for coal sites, said the think-tank.

The government should also provide the same degree of subsidy as it does for renewable energy, it added.

It argued that ultimately, if coal were developed using new technologies, it could mean a more reliable energy source and cheaper electricity for the consumer.

"Such a combination ought to be attractive to all policy-makers," the report said.

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