According to a new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, there is hope for coal-powered energy in the age of alternative fuels and reduced carbon emissions.

The study “The Future of Coal: Options for a Carbon Constrained World” finds carbon sequestration technologies can enable future coal-powered plants to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions and remain a viable source of power for years to come.

Coal presents a peculiar dilemma for the energy and environmental communities. On one hand, the report projects coal usage to increase worldwide because it remains a low-cost fuel source, especially for developing countries where demand is expected to increase. On the other hand, as the world strives to tackle the problems of global climate change, coal also remains one of the worst polluting energy sources.

However, according to the study, there are a various technologies that can make coal a more clean-burning fuel. These include higher-efficiency generation and CO2 capture and oxygen separation.

The report urges policy makers to provide energy developers with the proper incentives to incorporate sequestration into future coal-burning plants. Toward that end, it urges the adoption of a $30-per-ton tax on carbon emissions to make new sequestration technologies more economically practical and stricter regulations on new and current coal-fired power plants to significantly reduce their carbon emissions. EC