The Government is hoping that its proposed £60m research programme into clean-coal technology will enable UK companies to secure £30bn of exports over the next 10 years.
Energy minister John Battle announced last week that the Government would provide £12m to kick-start the three-year programme and look to industry, the science budget and the EU to provide the remaining £48m. This would spur a five-year R&D programme proposed by the industry-led Foresight Task Force.
A paper from the Department of Trade and Industry said about £300bn was likely to be spent on coal-fired power plants worldwide over the next 10 years. If the UK retained its present share, it could benefit to the tune of some £30bn between now and 2010.
However, to achieve this, British industry must be able to supply more advanced equipment that offers improvements in efficiency and environmental performance.
Developing countries such as China and India are increasingly sourcing the main parts for conventional coal plants from home.
Nick Otter, the Alstom executive who chairs the task force, said that by targeting the effort on the key issues of cost, performance and emissions, British industry could both profit and make a significant contribution to improving the environment.
A new advisory committee, to be drawn from power generators, equipment manufacturers and universities, will oversee the programme and review development projects.