• Coal use to grow in Middle East

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

While East Asia is shifting somewhat away from coal (and nuclear, in Japan’s case) towards gas and renewables, the Middle East is shifting somewhat away from gas and towards coal (in a modest amount) and renewables. A recent article in Middle East Utilities has charted the beginnings of coal firing for power generation in the region, where Dubai is to raise its coal-fired capacity to 3600 MW by 2030, with the first plant – the 2400 MW Hassyan power plant – currently under construction. Egypt (as covered in the following story) and other Middle Eastern countries are also commissioning coal-fired plants, with the thinking being that diversification of power sources will help to provide security and stability of power supply, even in a region which has large oil and gas reserves and little coal. Coal fired plants also allow for a moderately fast introduction of large amounts of power generation to meet the rapidly growing demand for it in the region. The new plants will highly efficient and clean in terms of NO, SOx and dust, and the article makes a point about carbon emissions being around 30% lower than the global average of coal-fired power plants. While that is a significant improvement, the carbon emissions are unlikely to be low enough for climate considerations in the long-term future – carbon capture and utilisation/storage will also be required. Such carbon capture technology is actively being pursued in the region, with the Uthmaniyah project in Saudi Arabia (capturing carbon from gas processing) and the Abu Dhabi CCS project in the UAE (applied to the steelmaking industry), though to apply it economically to coal firing will be a challenge for some time to come. The article also describes how future coal-fired plants will need to be more flexible in terms of start-up and shut down so that they can better integrate into grids that will contain higher percentages of renewables, though this makes higher efficiencies more difficult to attain. Overall, the article makes for interesting reading.