It is estimated that around 1,093 thermoelectric units in 438 power stations are operating, nowadays, in the enlarged European Union. Among them, 731 units are larger than 100 MWe and their total installed capacity equals to 200.7 GWe. Germany in the EU part and Poland in the non-EU countries have the largest share in coal production and consumption. Coal contribution to the total electricity generation with reference to other fuel sources, is by far more intensive in the non-EU part (52.5%), compared to the EU member states (29.5%). Thus, it is expected that even after the enlargement, the European Union will strongly being related to coal. EUís import dependency will be increased from todayís 50% to about 60 to 70% in 2020. Especially gas imports are forecast to increase from 40% today to 66% in 2020 while coal imports will increase from just over 50% to more than 70%.
Enlargement will bring additional factors into play in order to meet the requirements of rising consumption, growing demand for conventional fuels and increasing dependence on imports. Up to date, conventional technology is applied in most of the coal-fired power plants, while new units of advanced combustion technology are under construction or have already been built. Besides the technology, boiler size, efficiency, age and environmental performance will determine the necessities of the coal-fired power sector in each country. Depending on the case, lifetime extension measures in operating coal-fired power plants or clean coal technologies can play an important role towards the energy sector restructuring. Low efficiency values in the non-EU coal-fired units and heavily aged power plants in EU countries will certainly affect decisions in favour of upgrading or reconstruction.
The overall increase of efficiency, the reduction of harmful emissions from generating processes and the co-combustion of coal with biomass and wastes for generating purposes indicate that coal can be more clean and more efficient. The application of these technologies makes coal more attractive as a fuel for electricity generation. Additionally, plenty of rehabilitation projects based on CCT applications, have already been carried out or are under progress in the EU energy sector. The proclamations of the countriesí energy policies in the coming decades, includes integrated renovation concepts of the coal-fired power sector. Further to the natural gas penetration in the electricity generation and CO2 sequestration and underground storage, the implementation of CCT projects will strongly contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions in the European Union, according to the targets set in the Kyoto protocol. In consequence, clean coal technologies can open up new markets not only in the EU member candidate states, but also in other parts of the world.
Keywords : Clean Coal Technologies, Electricity generation, Rehabilitation, CO2 reduction