Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Clean coal and its reality

COAL POWER PLANT:'s photostream/Bruno & Ligia Rodrigues
Clean coal is like dry water
(Appalachian Voices)

A friend asked me why I say CCS isn't practical. Answer: it isn't.
(a tweet from Don Blakenship, CEO Massey Energy)

The letter I received this past May from Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri regarding the clean energy and climate change legislation was fairly typical among a portion of the U.S. Senate. While she acknowledged that climate change science is “real,” she then went on to offer a number of caveats about not hurting “Missouri families” while we address the real problem of climate change. Above all, according to the senator, America must invest in clean coal technology, such as carbon capture and sequestration, sometimes referred to as CCS.

Clean coal technology

At the present time there is no such thing as clean coal, in the United States nor anywhere else in the world. We can not “capture” carbon nor do we have the technology at the present time to bury it, in the United States nor anywhere else in the world, certainly on a commercial scale that would be required.

The optimists say we're ten to twenty years away from developing the technology … maybe. The pessimists say we ought to put our effort and our money into something more promising—which is? Meanwhile global warming is increasing, according to the scientists that actually study the issue, because of the burning of fossil fuels.

The U.S. Department of Energy recently released the breakdown of its $3.4 billion stimulus money for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). Some $1 billion is to be used for actual development programs. CCS.

Where does reality lead

The question has come up about “shifting liability” from industry to the taxpayer. Obama's Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage has raised the point about industry's reluctance to spend its own money until the question of liability is clearly determined. Companies see big up-front costs associated with the development of carbon sequestration facilities.

The skeptics have said—certainly in reference to the oil and nuclear industry—that if these industries are so safe as is oftentimes claimed, why do they seem to want to invest in insurance, paid for by the taxpayer instead of the industry. The phrase "limit on claims" is one heard often in the oil industry, as well as in the nuclear power industry.

Finally, Don Blakenship, who runs Massey Energy, has stated publicly, more than once, that he doesn't believe in climate change, yet his company is investing a lot of money in CCS research. The truth may yet set us free, maybe.

Some Sources:

Appalachian Voices

CCSReg Project

Coal Tattoo

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