Clean Coal Unrealistic?

Now I know there are some with a vested in clean coal, but this is a pretty scathing article from the Economist.  True?

“Despite all this enthusiasm, however, there is not a single big power plant using CCS (carbon capture and storage) anywhere in the world.”

“CCS particularly appeals to politicians reluctant to limit the use of coal. Coal is the dirtiest of fossil fuels…Yet burning coal is one of the cheapest ways to generate power. In America, Australia, China, Germany and India coal provides half or more of the power supply and lots of jobs. Rejecting cheap, indigenous fuel for job cuts and international energy markets is seen, naturally enough, as political suicide. CCS offers a way out of this impasse.”

“The problem with CCS is the cost. The chemical steps in the capture consume energy, as do the compression and transport of the carbon dioxide. That will use up a quarter or more of the output of a power station fitted with CCS, according to most estimates.”

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1 Response to “Clean Coal Unrealistic?”


  1. 1 T. Caine March 19, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    When I look back on the campaign for hydrogen powered cars I see it as one of the largest (and most successful) political distractions on the environment to date. Being no great lovers of environmental progress, the Bush administration wanted to focus on war budgets, tax cuts and safety from terrorists. The last thing they needed was to be hounded by “greenies” about the the health of the planet. So they said they would put money and time into hydrogen powered cars to promote research for the next generation of automotive sustainability.

    Of course most people today have conceded that hydrogen vehicles are no where close to a realistic transition for the American public in the near future. The entire thing was a head-fake and it helped Bush dodge excess environmental criticism for the entirety of his terms.

    Now we have clean coal–a magical means to supposedly make the dirtiest form of power generation in the world suddenly clean. I can bet that a decade from now we will be looking back saying the same thing we now say about hydrogen cars. The entire thing is a ploy to help the coal industry avoid criticism and buy them time.

    Look at its competitors. There are countless proponents of wind and solar power. Who is really supporting clean coal aside from coal companies?


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