Boosting the efficiency of Russia’s coal-fired power plants is a ‘win-win’ move

9 May 2011

Raising the efficiency of coal-fired power plants in Russia will have a positive national and international impact, according to IEA Deputy Executive Director Richard H. Jones.

This potential "win-win" move would lead to an increasing share of domestic electricity demand met by the more efficient coal, which could in turn take over from natural gas as the major source for Russia’s primary energy supply.

Then, the natural gas that is no longer required for domestic supply could be exported. This would significantly increase the country’s export revenues, as natural gas is more profitable for Russia than coal.

Increase export revenues

“Russia faces a disadvantage in increasing its market share in the international coal market,” explained Ambassador Jones, who was speaking at the Second International Scientific and Practical Conference, which took place in Kemerovo, Russia from 4 to 6 May.

“Competitors generally exploit high-quality coal deposits relatively close to ports, allowing easy access to international markets,” he said. “This is not possible to achieve in Russia, given the remote locations of most coal deposits and the huge transport distances.”

Consequently, if Russia were to increase its domestic consumption of coal, it would benefit by maximising revenues from greater natural gas exports, which would no longer be needed to power the domestic energy supply, the IEA Deputy Executive Director said.

Reduces CO2 emissions

Ambassador Jones also shared analysis from the World Energy Outlook 2010, the IEA’s flagship publication, which confirms that promoting energy efficiency remains the quickest, most cost-effective approach to achieving our security, economic and environmental goals.

He stressed that by improving the efficiency of its coal-fired power plants, greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced within Russia.

Carbon emissions could also be reduced beyond Russia’s borders, if energy-consuming countries buy natural gas (lower carbon relative to other fossil fuels), as opposed to coal.