So much of us are like the ostrich. Even President Obama. Because in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention he talked about believing in investing in “clean coal.” I won’t say much about the position of the other guy in this Presidential election race because I would like to be considered fair-minded. But…..he believes that there may be something to this “fan-dangled” idea of climate change, but wants more study, and that coal-fired plants need to be built because, gee, gosh, there as “American as apple pie,” just as American as dynamiting the top of a mountain in Appalachia to get to the coal beneath.
And candidate Romney has a whole bunch of Texans backing him up in his belief in coal power because they are trying to beat the EPA’s new clean air regulations by getting three new coal-fired power plants approved before the new standards take affect.
“Clean coal” is to Energy as 9/11 was to Saddam Hussein.
I say this despite the fact that on September 20 the U.S. Department of Energy announced “major milestones” for a Decatur, Illinois, clean coal project. That project is all about a carbon sequestration demonstration facility and the opening of a National Sequestration Education Center.
The sequestration project plans to be able to store 1 million tons of CO2 per year to demonstrate the “feasibility” of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies.
The quote from Charles McConnell, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, U.S. Department of Energy states,
“This project is an important part of the Obama Administration’s investments in clean coal technology and an all-of-the-above energy strategy that will help ensure we develop every source of American energy….Continued research into Carbon, Capture, Utilization and Storage technologies will help continue reducing the costs of clean coal projects and make sure that the U.S. maintains the lead in this important clean energy industry.”
The project plans to capture CO2, concentrate it and pipe it to an injection well for underground storage in sandstone formations more than 2,100 meters (7,000 feet) underground. I’m not sure what milestones have actually been achieved but the plant will not be operational until the summer of 2013. I would consider that a far more important milestone than the opening of a education centre. But having said that lots of question marks remain about this project and I’ll tell you why.
As I have written before, the economics of CCUS technology without significant government subsidy, make no sense. CCUS remains a black hole that sucks in government money to prop up a continued desire to maintain the fossil fuel industry. Believe me, without subsidies, industry players wouldn’t even give CCUS a second thought.
What is needed is a cap and trade system with a price put on carbon that gets the attention of fossil fuel industry players. A cap and trade system would work like the proverbial carrot and stick to motivate the industry players to alter their behaviour because potential profit could be realized.
So let’s, once and for all, put the “clean coal” misinformation myth to bed along with:
Smoking doesn’t cause cancer.
President Obama was born in Kenya.
Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccines cause autism in children.
That there is no scientific evidence for global warming.
And that “creation science” is science.
Oh, and that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was responsible for 9/11.