Coal is not the answer

Sierra Club has launched a great new site going after the “clean coal” marketing machine.

Good to see more organizations countering the $40 million “coal is clean” campaign launched by the coal industry late last year under the guise of third-party group calling itself the “American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity” (ACCCE).

Sierra Club even came up with a great video that puts to rest the ridiculous argument that somehow the dirtiest energy in the world is somehow clean:


Is Coal is getting more expensive and soon dwindling in supply? If thats true and fairly imminent, then coal is going to go away on it’s own. No need to push it out the door if it’s true that renewables are becoming competitive and are ready to take over King Coal. Just let it happen. I’m not holding my breath on that one though.

Yeah, there’s no such thing as government subsidization of losing industry anyhow.

so lets drop all the subsidies and see who wins out. The winner of course will be coal until renewables become competitive. So weight it in favor of renewables. Hit coal with a pollution tax to the point that coal power doubles in price.

Lets see just how competitive wind and solar really is.

So you’re calling for a carbon tax? That’s my preferred mechanism, except I like to think of it as user-pay rather than a tax.
But how do you expect to “see just how competitive wind and solar really [are]”?

I don’t like the idea of renewable subsidies. It would encourage abuse as companies figure out ways to cash in.

So yeah - have a coal tax - because coal is ugly stuff. Mercury, smog, mining and okay CO2 even if I’m not quite sold on that last one. Another reason to have a coal tax is because it’s a finite resource that we should scale back on rather than ramp up like we probably will.

Tax it to the point where user price doubles, even triples. If renewables can be competitive at that point - good. Lets see what it would take.

“Lets see what it would take.” – Okay, how? Are you asking for economists’ projections or are you lobbying for a real experiment in which coal in particular is heavily taxed?

Coal is the dirtiest form of energy? Well no, not even close.

Most cooking and heating in the third world is by wood or dung fire. That is by far a greater polluting energy source than coal.

See that “smoke” coming out of the smokestacks on “An inconvenient Truth” and every other video of coal power stations? What you are seeing is water vapour (steam) not carbon particulates. They are cooling towers not smokestacks.

Diesel, Petrol, and most other petroleum derived energy sources are more polluting that coal fired power stations.

You need definitions. Are you talking about CO2 emissions, particulates, sulphates, nitrogen oxides, or none of the above.

Are you comparing total mass, equivalent mass, heat output, or maybe cost.

If you are going to make comparisons then at least define your criteria.

“Wind and solar are ready to go today.” - Sierra Club

Uh, no they aren’t. The cost of our electricity would go up 500% to 1000% if we went totally solar/wind power.

Wind and solar require massive subsidies which requires high taxes.

Promote wind and solar, but at least be honest about how expensive such sources of energy are.

They also need to come clean on the abilities of these alternatives as it is not as rosy as these people want us to believe.

For wind the output is actually well below the name plate. In Ontario 80% of the time wind turbines produce only 13% of name plate. Thus you need at least 5 to 6 TIMES more turbines. Thus for Ontario to get 15% of it’s capacity from wind, as the Liberals have vowed, would require the construction of 77,000 turbines at $1.5M each ($115 BILLION) and take more than 100 years to construct.

As for solar panels, they will be useless in the winter for 2/3s of the day when it’s night time. Besides, the huge 1000 acre solar farm in Sarnia being built ($300M +) will be swamped by a mere 60 days of immigrants coming into the country.

Nor is the reality as fossil fuelers would have us believe.

Electricity grids are balanced minute by minute. They are also no longer national but international. Even the UK is connected to France. And all of them use a variety of fuels.

The reality is that at the moment, gas fueled power stations are already in use to balance the supply during weather “snaps” or the extra load caused by boiling kettles during the half time break. Or we receive more electricity across international borders during these periods.

Ok, storage technologies need to be improved and installed, but that doesn’t detract from the generating potential of renewables.

Fossil Fuels have a much higher EROEI than any of the so called alternatives. EROEI is everything in energy usage. Without a high EROEI this civilization cannot survive.

So what is this “reality” about FF? Nothing you noted changes what I posted. Even in Denmark, the birthplace of wind turbines has weeks of no wind and have to import, or go to FF sources (in other countries).

So what are these potentials for “renewables”, which BTW are not renewable when you have to build many many more and use FF to construct them. Be sure to include EROEI in your analysis.

Richard, you have made a great case against renewables. They are not dependable and require an equil investment in other forms of energy to back them up…your example being gas.

Why not invest our money in improving existing, economical, and proven power generation instead of propping up wind and solar which are inherantly flawed.

Becalmed at sea is an ancient term and solar at best works half the time.

Entirely agree.
That is if we are including the “subsidies” that the fossil fuel industries are granted.

The global warming extremists are now punching at shadows, all those ridiculously scaled graphs and those made up from inaccurate statistical methods by scientists who were not competent in their methods. See Wegman et al.

Al Gores film taken to pieces and discredited with 30 fundamental errors one of which is that rises in C02 emissions historically took place 800 to 2500 years after periods of warming and not the other way round as he stated in the film?

Even worse for the poor dabs global temperatures have dropped or are in stasis since 1998, with 1933 shown to be the warmest year last century. Arctic ice has increased alone in one year by 30%. Antarctica Ice has been increasing for the last 40 years. So the NW passage will be shut again to traffic just as it was in the early 1900’s and 1940’s. Amundsen and Larsen respectively. The Polar Bears survived then.

Coal is good and Britain europe and other countries need it as an energy source along with oil and nuclear. Especially as the global temperature is dropping fast. With a recession around the corner what better way to get people back to work than to open up the coalmines and provide clean coal.

The CO2 emissions trading scheme should be confined to the dustbin because firstly it is a nonsense based on a discredited theory and secondly because it will create a financial bubble which will burst.

Wrap up warm its getting colder.

…then somebody better tell both Senator McCain and Senator Omaba that thier energy policy is flawed. Each of them go out of their way to say clean coal must play a part in securing America’s energy future.

Since Sierra are also against nuclear power, how do they propose that Canada could reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to the extent that environmental scientists are now telling us is necessary, which is 80% below 1990 levels, without using either coal or nuclear?

Is it possible to provide all of the energy Canada needs using just natural gas and renewables? This is not an ironic question. As a Brit living temporarily in Canada, I’d really like to know if anyone has tried to work this out.

My personal view is that a similar non-nuclear, non-coal plan, put forward in the UK by Greenpeace is not realistic for a number of reasons, but the UK has very different conditions to Canada, such as shortage of land for windfarms and dependence on foreign, insecure, natural gas supplies. It might be more practical in Canada.

Would be a big part of it. about two thirds of the energies generated at conventional powerplants are lost in production and transmission before they ever reach consumers. Improved building codes and urban design would fix mostof the consumer end of energy production tail.

Lock it all in with a Cap-&-Trade with CO2 tons at $200 ea,. Though I prefer voluntary Certified CO2 Offsets, as such takes the inefficient governments out of the picture; speaking of whom, our many and varied governments should pay CO2 Offsets for it’s own CO2 emissions, and pay for it by ending all energy subsidies (military renewable energy R&D being an exception.) When their CO2 goes away, the renewable energy subsidy goes away.

New Fossil energy generation needs to either pay full CO2 offsets, or securely sequester their CO2, starting now, with gradually full compliance for existing fossil fuel generation within 20 years. I’d prefer this to be voluntary, but we have been waiting for action for 30 years now (since the JASONS report). Voluntary doesn’t seem to be working. Survival of free wealthy human civilization depends on getting this under control.

Government energy regulations will still exist in some form, but energy policy should be for a minimally regulated very-free-market, focused on highly diverse and highly distributed renewable energy when possible. A good spread between wind, solar, hydroelectric, biomass, nuclear, other. Fossil Fuels should be in the ‘other’ category. No more MegaCorp-utilities, more Smart Grid.

Places with lots of forests can use torrefied wood as a direct substitute for coal. In the U.S. there isn’t enough forest to completely replace coal.

I don’t know about Canada.

Coal will remain a staple for many years.
Wind and tidal will fill in small niches.
Solar will be of value when its efficiency improves about 100 fold.
In the mean time, there is nuclear.
Fow now, fission.
In the future, fusion.
It can be clean and safe.
We just need to develop it.

And Biofuel is A-moral.

Nuclear power can be safe? Then why won’t the insurance industry underwrite any plants? Government has to indemnify them, because they are not safe. Mechanically they can be designed well, but the “human element” is always present. Construction companies that cut corners by submitting an x-ray of one good weld to the inspectors instead of one of every weld. That sort of thing, Gary. Now I know that YOU wouldn’t do such a thing. But sadly not everybody evinces your impeccable moral tone.
That’s the construction. Then there’s the operation. How much oversight redundancy can we afford in running these things? Look at the Pentagon for an example of hordes of flunky yes “men”. Or NASA management. The stakes are a little high here, as a meltdown a la Chernobyl is supposedly not in the cards due to corrections in design on the new models. That’s what they say. Do you believe what the proponents of these beasts tell you? General Electric et al are practiced liars. The tobacco companies have hardly cornered the market for persiflage. Clean and safe–give me a break already.

is cost effective right now in the American Southwest and in parts of Australia.

Don’t confuse it with solar PV.

Clean Energy Meltdown: Now GE’s Bailing

General Electric is the latest to throw in the towel, after the abrupt departure of Lehman Brothers and Morgan Stanley. The conglomerate, which makes energy gear like wind and gas turbines as well as underwriting renewable-energy projects, says it is bailing out of the clean-tech investment game for now, once it finishes with existing projects. From Dow Jones Clean Tech Insight:

“Right now we can’t price a deal,” said [GE Financial Services managing director Timothy] Howell in an interview with Clean Technology Insight on the sidelines of the Solar Power International conference in San Diego, Calif. “We can’t go out and borrow. So we can’t commit to a deal today.”

how much has this got to do with the causes of global warming, and how much to do with the current market environment? Whatever GE is doing right now has little to do with the long-term issues of environment, and everything to do with survival in the middle of a melt-down. Fern Mackenzie

Gary… they’re just not going to invest any money in clean tech; GE is a big company that also runs a financial investment arm.

BUT — and it’s a very big BUT — their renewable energy business is the most profitable part of the company right now. If memory serves — the company I work for does dozens of GE stories every year — it’s the only part of GE’s business that is making big profits right now.

The Arctic seems to be warming up, states George Nicolas Ifft in 1922. He was at that time American consul at Bergen, Norway, and submitted from time to times reports to the the State Department, Washington, D.C. The following text represents an extract from his report, which was published in the journal Monthly Weather Review October 10, 1922.

“The Arctic seems to be warming up. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters, and explores who sail the seas about Spitsbergen and the eastern Arctic, all point to a radical change in climatic conditions, and hitherto unheard-of high temperatures in that part of the earth’s surface.

In August, 1922, the Norwegian Department of Commerce sent an expedition to Spitsbergen and Bear Island under the leadership of Dr. Adolf Hoel, lecturer on geology at the University of Christiania. Its purpose was to survey and chart the lands adjacent to the Norwegian mines on those islands, take soundings of the adjacent waters, and make other oceanographic investigations.

Dr. Hoel, who has just returned, reports the location of hitherto unknown coal deposits on the eastern shores of Advent Bay - deposits of vast extent and superior quality……The oceanographic observations have, however, been even more interesting. Ice conditions were exceptional. In fact, so little ice has never before been noted. The expedition all but established a record, sailing as far north as 81o29’ in ice-free water. This is the farthest north ever reached with modern oceanographic apparatus…..

In connection with Dr. Hoel’s report, it is of interest to note the unusually warm summer in Arctic Norway and the observations of Capt. Martin Ingebrigtsen, who has sailed the eastern Arctic for 54 years past. He says that he first noted warmer conditions in 1918, that since that time it has steadily gotten warmer, and that to-day the Arctic of that region is not recognizable as the same region of 1868 to 1917.

Many old landmarks are so changed as to be unrecognisable. Where formerly great masses of ice were found, there are now often moraines, accumulations of earth and stones. At many points where glaciers formerly extended far into the sea they have entirely disappeared.

The change in temperature, says Captain Ingebrigtsen, has also brought about great change in the flora and fauna of the Arctic. This summer he sought for white fish in Spitsbergen waters. Formerly great shoals of them were found there. This year he saw none, although he visited all the old fishing grounds.

There were few seal in Spitzbergen waters this year, the catch being far under the average. This, however, did not surprise the captain. He pointed out that formerly the waters about Spitzbergen held an even summer temperature of about 3o Celsius; this year recorded temperatures up to 15o, and last winter the ocean did not freeze over even on the north coast of Spitsbergen.

With the disappearance of white fish and seal has come other life in these waters. This year herring in great shoals were found along the west coast of Spitsbergen, all the way from the fry to the veritable great herring. Shoals of smelt were also met with.”


I would say very little.
I would also say that their previous green ambitions were equally about the causes of global warming.

That is the point.

Companies like GE are all for it when they stand to make huge profits. Otherwise, its not important.
Same goes for politicians and scammers like Gore.
When green is profitable, it is good. When its not profitable, it is a non-issue.

I have nothing to gain, so it is a non issue for me all the time. (other than the entertainment value)

The recent Frontline documentary on PBS called Heat, examined clean coal (amongst other things). It is not going to happen in the US anytime soon.
Tar sands were also briefly addressed.
(The docummentary can be watched online, I thought it was worth the time taken to view it).