Coal produces higher emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), than any other fossil fuels. It is mainly used by power stations to produce electricity but also as a source for heating.
The CO2 content of coal is from 200 to 350 grams of Carbon equivalent per kWh compared to 108 to 190 g Ceq/kWh for gas
Currently Clean Coal Technologies (CCTs) are only being developed to reduce emissions, in particular NOx and other flue gases. But it is not an answer to the CO2 question. De facto CCT is a greenwash concept.
An additional problem of coal is its low efficiency: the average efficiency of all EU coal power plants is below 35% whereas for the gas power plants it is above 50% and even 60% for the best of them.
More coal use pushed up EU greenhouse gas emissions in 2003. The 1.3% increase in EU-15 green GHG in 2003 equates to an extra 53 million tonnes. Almost half of this rise was due to a 2.1% increase in emissions from energy industries, which in turn was caused mainly by growth of 5% in electricity and heat production and in coal consumption by power stations. The biggest emission rises, from electricity and heat production, were in those countries which substantially increased their coal use.
On the other hand the coal sector has and continues to receive huge energy subsidies. Over the last 10 years four 'old' Member States (France, Germany, Spain and UK) granted approximately 70 billion in aid to their industry for both production subsidies and to help phase out the industry. Furthermore, the industry is established with large turnover and profits.
Consequently for the Greens, the use of EU research and development funds (within the EU FP7 program) for the coal sector is not appropriate, in particular as, despite some environmental improvements, coal stations, continue to be a major source of CO2 emissions.
As long as coal has not solved its CO2 emissions problem, coal has no future.