Clean and beneficial coal must play a role in the UK's future energy production, a new report has said.
Earlier this year the government set a target of a 60 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2050.
Today's report from the Centre for Policy Studies argues that if this is to be met "then support for nuclear energy, clean coal, carbon capture and storage on a large scale are essential".
Written by political and energy analyst Tony Lodge, the report claims that coal has numerous advantages, including being relatively cheap, plentiful and able to be stored.
Its 'dirty' image is being reduced through new technologies which can reduce the environmental impact of coal-fired generation.
As such, it says, "only nuclear power can match these advantages".
In response to climate change and energy supply needs, the government has placed an increasing emphasis on the need for 'green' energy supplies.
But the report warns that an "over zealous" renewable policy could be "counter productive". It also adds that the coal industry needs greater support and it should be made easier for people to invest in the industry.
"If the government wishes to genuinely embrace a competitive, market-orientated energy policy which reduces CO2 and maintains crucial base-load energy provision then it must support clean coal, alongside new nuclear stations," the report concludes.
"Over-reliance on renewables and imported gas is a recipe for power cuts and price hikes – and consequently the inevitable social and economic implications which, as history has shown, would be almost certain.
"If government can set out a strategic policy for nuclear power and renewables, why not clean coal?"