Andris Piebalgs, EU's Energy Commisioner said in a speech at the eBio General Assembly yesterday:
From the point of view of security of supply, coal is a wonderful source of energy. Europe has plenty of coal; outside Europe, reserves are spread widely. But the greenhouse gas performance of coal is worse than that of any other fuel.
"Clean coal" technologies are being developed to solve this problem. We will accelerate research into these technologies, and take other steps to create a market for them. But there is no chance of their making a significant contribution by 2020.
That's interesting. EU is under a rather heavy pressure to lessen its energy dependency on oil and gas from Russia, and living in a country that got some collateral damage from the last muscle flexing of russian energy monopoly I can completely understand that. But going back to coal burning, hoping that its ecologically disastrous side effects can be eliminated by some not-yet-existing, but presumably researched "clean coal" technologies is a bit worrisome. I mean, as far as I know, you just can't burn coil without getting CO2, since "burning" by definition is "oxydating". At best, those "clean coal" technologies might try to somehow further process that CO2, instead of emitting it into the environment. I'm admittedly a bit skeptical about it, but I definitely welcome any sufficiently rigorous scientific research into the issue.