Clean Coal: This Is Reality

Kevin Grandia's picture

In reality, there is no such thing as clean coal. The Join Reality is going to challenge the clean coal myth and make sure misleading articles, false statements and other hype don’t go unanswered.

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Chu, of course, is President elect Obama’s choice to head the US Department of Energy.  It happens that Chu co-chaired a Study Panel working under the auspices of the prestigious InterAcademy Council. 

Chu’s panel published “Lighting the Way:  Toward a Sustainable Energy Future” in October 2007. 

In the light of certain statements I’ve read on DeSmogBlog recently declaring that carbon capture and storage technology, a.k.a. “Clean Coal” doesn’t exist, I wondered, what does Stephen Chu think? 

Read the full report here:  http://www.interacademycouncil.net/CMS/Reports/11840/12039.aspx?returnID=12161

All quotes are from the Executive Summary:

page xx:  “great urgency must be given to developing and commercializing technologies that would allow for the continued use of coal - the world’s most abundant fossil fuel resource - in a manner that does not pose intolerable environmental risks….  The substantial expansion of coal capacity that is now underway around the world may pose the single greatest challenge to future efforts aimed at stabilizing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.  Managing the greenhouse gas ‘footprint’ of this existing capital stock, while making the transition to advanced conversion technologies that incorporate carbon capture and storage, thus represents a critical technological and economic challenge.”

page xxi:  “the Study Panel believes that, given the dire prospect of climate change, the following three recommendations should be acted upon without delay and simultaneously:

1. …improve efficiency…including…introduction of price signals for carbon emissions….

2. Technologies should be developed and deployed for capturing and sequestering carbon from fossil fuels, particularly coal.”

3. Development and deployment of renewable energy technologies should be accelerated….”

page xxv:  “Aggressively pursue efforts to commercialize carbon capture and storage.  Moving forward with full scale demonstration projects is critical, as is continued study and experimentation to reduce costs, improve reliability, and address concerns about leakage, public safety, and other issues.”

[my note:  maybe Chu and his panel are so good they can see the way to commercialize a technology by moving forward into full scale demonstration projects, before the technology exists.]

This is what Stephen Chu, co-chair of the IAC Study Panel that wrote this report, signed his name to in October 2007.

Brief description of the IAC with names of some of the Board members:

The InterAcademy Council was created in May 2000 by “all of the world’s science academies”.  It was set up to “mobilize the best scientists and engineers worldwide to provide high quality advice to international bodies such as the United Nations and the World Bank”. 

Board members include: Ralph Cicerone, President, National Academy of Sciences, USA.   Lu Yonxiang, President, Chinese Academy of Science.  Martin Rees, President, Royal Society of London.  M. Vijayan, President, Indian National Academy of Sciences, Ichiro Kanazawa, President, Science Council of Japan, Mohamed H.A. Hassan, President, African Academy of Sciences, Jacob Palis, President, Academy of Sciences for the Developing World, as well as many others, Presidents of national Academies of Sciences, and international scientific and engineering organizations.

 

From the “Recommendations”, contained in the June 2005 The Royal Society, UK report “Ocean acidification due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxde”:

“Action needs to be taken now to reduce global emissions of CO2 to the atmosphere to avoid the risk of large and irreversible damage to the oceans.  We recommend that all possible approaches be considered to prevent CO2 reaching the atmosphere.  No option that can make a significant contribution should be dismissed.

page 42, Recommendation 8.

Getting back to “False Hope”: “storing carbon underground is risky.  Safe and permanent storage of CO2 cannot be guaranteed”.  That may be, but the report Greenpeace goes to for the “not expected before 2030” statement says this: “Technical experts are confident that storage in carefully chosen and managed sites would be secure over the very long term”.  I believe if Greenpeace caught a climate denier cherry picking what they liked from a study and carefully avoiding what they didn’t like to hear like this they would conclude that denier was not interested in the truth.  What Greenpeace is doing with their anti carbon capture campaign is exposing the truth about carbon capture I hear. cheapest flights :: anunturi

 

According to Junxion’s website, “to counter head-on the lobby by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity”… “DeSmogblog.com, Greenpeace, and Rainforest Action Network have helped seed this project together with Junxion’s web design efforts”. 

I wondered how Greenpeace was conducting their campaign.

Greenpeace published “False Hope: Why carbon capture and storage won’t save the climate”.

According to False Hope: “the earliest possibility for deployment of CCS at utility scale is not expected before 2030”, and “the technology is unproven”.

The report they got the first statement from says “most of the main elements of the CCS chain are now being implemented at a full scale, but bringing these elements together in one integrated system remains to be demonstrated…”, which does tend to not support their second unfootnoted statement.

Greenpeace quotes price information from the IPCC, saying CCS will cause an “electricity price increase of 21 - 91%”.  The IPCC has these numbers in a chart.  When they use words they use kWh which are more easily understood.  “the cost of CCS ranges from 0.02 - 0.05 US$/kWh for PC plants and 0.01 - 0.03 US$kWh for NGCC plants (both employing post-combustion capture).  For IGCC plants (using pre-combustion capture), the CCS cost ranges from 0.01 - 0.03 US$/kWh relative to a similar plant without CCS”.  Wholesale coal power now costs 5 cents kWh, which puts the cost into perspective:  6 - 10 cents kWh cost at the plant.

Solel, developers of the Mojave Solar Park 1 solar thermal plant state on their website FAQ that the cost of solar thermal power at this moment “can be close to 12 cents kWh”.

Getting back to “False Hope”: “storing carbon underground is risky.  Safe and permanent storage of CO2 cannot be guaranteed”.  That may be, but the report Greenpeace goes to for the “not expected before 2030” statement says this: “Technical experts are confident that storage in carefully chosen and managed sites would be secure over the very long term”.  I believe if Greenpeace caught a climate denier cherry picking what they liked from a study and carefully avoiding what they didn’t like to hear like this they would conclude that denier was not interested in the truth.  What Greenpeace is doing with their anti carbon capture campaign is exposing the truth about carbon capture I hear. 

In the executive summary of “False Hope” there is a headline quote on the second page.  “CCS will arrive on the battlefield far too late to help the world avoid dangerous climate change”

I typed this quote into the search box in Adobe with the document it was taken from loaded, and nothing came up.  Greenpeace had cut and pasted this choice quote from this actual sentence:

“With planned rates of deployment, there will be just 11 CCS plants in operation by 2015….  At this rate, one of the key technologies in the battle against global warming will arrive on the battlefield far too late to help the world avoid dangerous climate change”.  page 45 “Avoiding dangerous climate change: strategies for mitigation, UNDP“ 

This UNDP report calls out for speeding up CCS deployment:  “The failure to develop substantive cooperation on CCS is particularly worrisome.  From a global public goods perspective, there is an overwhelming interest in developed countries speeding up the deployment of CCS technologies at home, and then ensuring that they are available to developing countries as soon as possible and at the lowest price”.  All Greenpeace can do with this call from the UN is to distort what it says as it campaigns to sow confusion about the technology as it tries to stop its development.  This is not Greenpeace’s finest hour.  I once called myself a friend of Jim Bohlen, one of the founders of Greenpeace, when we worked together in the BC Green Party.  If he was backing this, I’d tell him what I’m writing here to his face. This is the wrong thing to do, Greenpeace.

The planned rate of deployment of renewables also will come too late according to this reasoning.  I thought campaigners were trying to change what is planned in the way of emissions to the atmosphere.  Carbon capture is a method of preventing some of those emissions.

 
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Companies like Shell Oil really need to give their eyes a rub and see that a world with serious constraints on greenhouse gas emissions is not a possible future, but an eventual reality.

Right now, oil companies are investing billions in long term plays in very carbon intensive fuels, like Canada's oil sands, while at the same time there are more and more signs that strict regulations on such operations are on the near horizon.

You don't need to look much further than...

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