Hot king coal: 'public needs to know the pros and cons of using coal'

Straits Times 26 Mar 10;

I REFER to last Friday's commentary, 'Reign of old king coal is not necessarily over'.

It highlighted several environmental and technological uncertainties associated with the use of coal, which would be best answered by the Government.

The public needs to know the pros and cons of using coal, and it would help if the Government openly and clearly explains its decision to use coal, while anticipating the coming carbon-constrained world, maintaining our clean and green image, and achieving our aim to be a clean energy hub.

Several questions should be addressed.

Has there been official assessment of the environmental impact of using coal or a life cycle assessment study of coal? How does coal's cleanness compare with that of natural gas?

Will the upcoming coal and biomass-fired power plant of Tuas Power or new power plants using coal be required to conduct an environmental impact assessment before construction?

Will the use of coal lead to more carbon emissions than natural gas, and undermine official efforts to reduce emissions by 16 per cent from 2020 business-as-usual levels?

Is there official funding for research on carbon capture and storage, or technology to reduce coal emissions so they are on par with emissions from natural gas?

Will the use of coal tarnish Singapore's reputation as a clean and green city?

Will the use of coal without carbon capture and storage technology contradict Singapore's aim to be a clean energy hub?

Finally, will use of coal reduce demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) and affect the viability of the Government's new LNG terminal?

Eugene Tay