Andris Piebalgs EU energy commissioner has called for coal-fired power generation to improve clean coal technologies to maintain their share in Europe’s power mix.

“Coal must retain an important role in Europe’s power mix for reasons of supply security and diversity, but its ecological challenges must be addressed,” Piebalgs reportedly said, adding,”If we don’t invest in technologies for CO2 capture and storage, there is a risk that coal-fired generation declines once old plants are shut.”

Coal-fired generation companies are investing in carbon dioxide capture and storage technologies, but they are not expected to become competitive before 2015 or 2020. The EU hopes to develop technology partnerships with member states and plant operators in order to improve coal-fired technology.

Some 30% of the economic bloc’s power is derived from coal while replacement capacity and future demands are expected to see hundreds of GW of new capacity built over the coming decades.