Current and repeated supply bottlenecks of imported energy in the EU underline the necessity, noted in the European Commission's current energy strategy, to maintain and further develop coal as a substantial component of Europe's energy mix, explained the new President of the European Association for Coal and Lignite, EURACOAL, Petr Pudil, after his election in Brussels. Currently, said Pudil, a high-ranking personality in the Czech coal and energy industry, coal covers about 29% of power generation in the EU. Its share in the 27 Member States varies between 92% in Poland and 4% in France.

Access to reserves and maintaining domestic resources are a common task for all EU member states. In addition to energy savings, domestic energy reserves are the most effective protection against supply risks. I am against unnecessarily restricting coal production, either by hastily closing down mines because of short-term considerations or because of planning obstacles concerning current and new projects, said Pudil to representatives of the European Commission, the EU and of the European coal industry on Monday in Brussels.

According to EURACOAL's new President, coal utilisation can comply with the EU's ambitious climate protection objectives in the long term. Pudil even assumes that without new climate-friendly coal technique, effective climate protection is not possible in Europe nor globally.

Compared with old installations, a new coal-fired power station currently saves 2.5 to 3 Mt of carbon dioxide when generating the same amount of power. The separation and storage of carbon dioxide from coal-fired power stations opens completely new perspectives for future climate-friendly coal utilisation. If today's familiar technologies are successfully perfected economically and industrially, and the capture and logistic problem is solved reliably, then CO2 emissions form coal-fired power plants could be decreased by over 85% in the next decades. Decisions concerning the mandatory use of CCS technologies in power stations should only be made, however, according to Pudil, if the technical and economic feasibility is proven by demonstration units and by an adequate, reliable framework.

Hartmuth Zeiss, Member of the Board at Vattenfall Europe Mining and Generation, reported in Brussels on Vattenfall's first operational experience with carbon dioxide separation. Vattenfall already planned a pilot plant at Schwarze Pumpe in Saxony/Germany mid 2005. Vattenfall chose the oxyfuel procedure, characterised by pure oxygen being supplied for combustion.

The pilot plant, with a thermal output of 30 MW, went into operation during the second half of 2008. To date, more than 100 t of carbon dioxide have been separated and liquefied. Zeiss reported that Vattenfall plans to test different coal qualities and to simulate conditions similar to those that will prevail in a future 700°C coal-fired power plant. Zeiss also pointed out that an oxyfuel installation requires major expenditure before development and operation and that going on line, compared with a conventional power station, would take much longer.

Pudil as new EURACOAL President succeeds Dr. Maksymilian Klank from Poland, in office since the beginning of 2007. EURACOAL members from a total of 18 European countries also decided at the General Assembly in Brussels to increase the number of Vice-Presidents. In future, EURACOAL, together with a President, will have three Vice Presidents. By this means we want to increase the visibility and effectiveness of our contribution to the energy and environment policy debate over the next two years, explained Pudil after his election.

Outgoing President Maksymilian Klank becomes a Vice-President together with Professor Franz-Josef Wodopia, representing German hard coal mining and Dr. Wolfgang Ritschel, representing coal importers.

Pudil graduated in engineering and started his career in the coal industry in 1998 when he became Director of Strategy at the Most Coal Company. He is one of the owners of the Czech Coal Group that includes Czech Coal a.s., trading in energy commodities, mainly brown coal, Litvínovská uhelná and Vršanská uhelná, coal mining companies, and a number of service companies. Pudil is CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Czech Coal a. s. He is also on the Board of the Czech Confederation of Industries.

Klank has worked for the Polish coal industry for 30 years. After reading economics in Katowice and graduating from the Academy of Mining and Metallurgy, Klank began his career as Head of Finance of a Polish hard coal enterprise. In 1993 he was then in charge of the Finance Department of the Katowice Coal Holding Co. In 2001, he was promoted Chairman of the Board. From 2003 to 2006, he was Chairman of the Board of Kompania Weglowa. Klank is also Chairman of the Polish Hard Coal Federation and a Member of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

Wodopia was born in 1957 in Heidelberg, Germany. A qualified economist, he first held different posts in the fields of energy and science and then became Professor at the University in Bochum/Germany. With the German Trade Union for Mining Industry, Chemistry and Energy (IG BCE), Wodopia headed the Mining and Energy Industries Department. In mid 2005, Wodopia became Managing Director of Gesamtverband Steinkohle (the German Hard Coal Association), one year later becoming a Member of the Board.

Ritschel began his career in 1970 at the AG Niederrhein mine after studying and graduating at the University of Clausthal Zellerfeld. In 1974, Ritschel was appointed Deputy Director Business Planning within the then Ruhrkohle AG. From 1977 to 1978 he managed underground mining for several mines in the Ruhr district. From 1979 to 1996 Ritschel was President of the management of Raab Karcher Coal Trade GmbH. In 1996 he joined the management of RAG Trading. In 2001, Ritschel was appointed Manager of the Verein der deutschen Kohlenimporteure e.V. (Association of German Hard Coal Importers) in Hamburg.

John Chadwick is Editor/Proprietor of International Mining magazine -