An interesting op-ed from yesterday’s New York Times discusses clean coal. I encourage our readers to read the piece themselves, but for those who want the short version, here’s a summary:
1. FutureGen, a federal program to design a zero-emission clean coal power plant is not going to work for two main reasons:
- Zero-emission clean coal technology doesn’t exist, and might take a really long time to get here
- Huge, politically charged federal research projects like these have not historically accomplished anything
- IGCC technology already exists
- Once Washington passes a cap-and-trade law of some kind, the cost of carbon will make IGCC cost-competitive
- To generate the same amount of electricity as regular coal plants, IGCC plants use only one third of the coal, which means they naturally cut GHG emissions by two thirds
However, though I agree with the author that the government should be worrying about practical solutions rather than (in his words) pie-in-the-sky ideas, I think he overplays the benefits of IGCC. True, the technology exists, but it’s extremely expensive. Carbon legislation isn’t going to make it cheaper, it’s just going to make everything else really expensive too. You can’t really expect every utility to pour money into a technology that, while proven, is still wet behind the ears.
But – and this is the author’s main point – the government can, and it should.
written by Fred, June 30, 2009
written by Michael Miller, June 30, 2009
written by solargroupies, July 01, 2009
written by Mike Keller, July 04, 2009
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