make a case for “clean” coal technology in Southeast Asia. However, we need to carefully define what clean coal is. It is true that ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants emit less carbon dioxide given their higher efficiency than conventional coal-fired plants. However, to call them clean is misleading. Even at peak efficiency, they still emit far more emissions than natural gas power plants.
Furthermore, do not forget the air, water and land pollution from coal power that make it far from clean. In Southeast Asia, air pollution caused 450,000 premature deaths in 2018. That number is predicted to increase to 650,000 by 2040 if the region continues its coal addiction.
In addition to emissions, studies suggest new-build solar power across Asean will be cheaper than new coal power from 2020 onwards. Those studies also predict that members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will see unprecedented low prices of renewables; building new solar and onshore wind power will be cheaper than operating coal plants between 2027 and 2029.