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Aust coal 'makes sense': World Coal chief

AAP logoAAP 15/09/2016

The head of the World Coal Association says Australia should be involved in the coal industry because exports to Asia, where demand is strong, will be a big opportunity "for decades to come".

WCA chief executive Benjamin Sporton says coal would be an affordable energy option for Asia for many years.

"So across the region that Australia exports to, coal is going to continue to play a big role in the energy mix," he said during a briefing in Brisbane.

"From an Australian perspective there is good reason to be investing in coal mining here in Australia because it will continue to be a significant export opportunity in the decades to come."

A report on global energy investment released on Wednesday by the International Energy Agency found investment in coal-fired power rose by almost a quarter in 2015, with $US78 billion spent, largely due to developments in China.

Total electricity generation spending was $US420 billion, with 70 per cent of that on renewable energy, the IEA report said.

Fossil fuels accounted for 55 per cent of global energy investment, down from 61 per cent in 2014.

Mr Sporton also said coal-fired power should remain in Australia, with new-generation High Efficiency, Low Emissions (HELE) coal-fired power plants replacing older plants.

"Some of the coal plants are ageing in Australia and there will be a need to replace capacity in at least the medium term," he said.

"I think that given Australia's strong domestic coal reserves it means that coal is an affordable, reliable and accessible fuel for Australia and so it would make sense to use that fuel as a domestic power resource as well as one for export."

Mr Sporton said HELE plants were "most certainly the ones to be building".

He said he was not aware of any current plans to build one in Australia, but knew it was an option being discussed by policymakers.

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