americas power. joe lucas

Coal Industry's ACCCE mixes apples (coal) with oranges (wind)

Over at the Clean Coal Front Group Soapbox (er, blog), ACCCE Vice President of Communications Joe Lucas has a new post entitled:

All New Technologies Take Time to Develop

He basically claims that wind and solar power projects take an indefinite amount of time to become fully operational for commercial use, and therefore we shouldn’t be criticizing him and the “clean coal” industry for how long it will take carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) to become commercially feasible.

Simply put, his post is flat-out disingenous.

Here’s Lucas’ post:

A favorite sound bite from critics of the coal industry is that CCT and carbon sequestration aren’t viable energy solutions because they will take too long to develop. When pressed for an alternative, these critics repeat a mantra of their own: more wind, more solar.

And they’re right. We’re going to need every resource we’ve got to meet our future energy needs – wind and solar included. But just like clean coal technology, these renewables also need time for development. As we’ve discussed here before, we’re a long way from mass implementation of wind and solar power – there are still some kinks to work out.

Just this week it was announced that Oregon regulators have approved construction of a new wind farm that developers say could be the world’s largest. The only problem? They don’t know when it will be operational.

As we said, these things take time.

I contacted Jérôme Guillet, a wind energy expert, who has written multiple articles for the reality-based blogosphere. He had this to say about Mr. Lucas’ post:

[Since Lucas is] referring to that big Oregon windfarm that just got its permits, he’s chosen the wrong target. The longest part is usually the part before obtaining the permits - choosing the site, making wind measurements, asking for all the authorisations and permits, getting access to the land, etc… Once you have the permits, you’re usually less than a year or two from construction, which itself takes 6-12 months.

The article to which Lucas links is behind a subscription wall, so we have to do our own search for news about the Oregon wind farms. The wind farm is scheduled to go online in about two years, which goes along with Guillet’s statement.

Guillet continues:

So we’re talking a couple of years, a delay that could certainly be shortened if it were a real priority, because the project is, by then, designed, the technology is available and the construction is fairly simple. Comparing that to CCS which is not an industrially proven technology, where you’re talking about an unknown number of years before people will actually look at investing money into commercial projects, let alone build them, is patently silly.

Basically, if there are (or had been) any uncertainties with the Oregon project, they would have nothing to do with technical uncertainties; they would have to do with business logistics uncertainties.

Guillet nails it. Lucas’ assertions are silly.

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