Wednesday, March 26, 2008

More Thoughts on Clean Coal

Clean Coal theory is dangerous. As global warming skeptics constantly point out, there's always some uncertainty about theories.

Why is Clean Coal just a theory? Because no one has yet shown that the amount of CO2 that needs to be captured to establish a viable, clean coal-fired electricity system can be safely and permanently sequestered. It requires a lot of emptiness - underground reservoirs where the carbon can be stored under very high pressure. The reservoirs need to be in reasonable proximity to the capture source. The further you need to pump the stuff the greater the expense and the risk of something going wrong.

Here's a little something they don't want to tell you: there's not remotely enough reservoir space to pull this off. That's why it's all gimmickry, a diversion. So if, in theory, you had an infinite amount of reservoir space and if, in theory, enough of that reservoir space was suitable to safely store high pressure CO2 and if, in theory, enough of that suitable reservoir space was sufficiently close to make sequestration economically viable, then you've got, in theory, an answer.

So, the first question for Mr. Harpo - how much viable storage capacity exists? Second question - how much CO2 can be safely and permanently sequestered in the existing storage? Third question - how much of Canada's electricity requirements can ever be realized through clean coal technology?

It sounds great, in theory, but sometimes you have to ask the practical questions.


JimBobby said...

Whooee! Here in Nanticoke, there's plenty o' talk about clean coal. We got a lotta old, dried-up natural gas wells here on land an' out in Lake Erie. That's where the CCS guys say the CO2 can get sequestered. Makes fer a good story but nobody seems to be coming through with any $$ to do it. Shee-it! Ginty won't even pay fer scrubbers at Nanticoke to remove the particulate that's killin' thousands every year.

Conservation and energy efficiency is what we need. There ain't any magic bullets in CCS or biofuel or nukes. Here's a good piece on how much we could do just by tweakin' our buildings.


The Mound of Sound said...

Hi JB. From what I've read you don't want underground carbon sequestration anywhere near human habitation. If the stuff escapes it can be deadly to anyone in the vicinity. NIMBY, NIMBY, NIMBY.

Red Tory said...

I'm highly skeptical about schemes like "Clean Coal" (great re-branding effort though). Speaking of which, it's more than a little interesting that one of the major sponsors of CNN's election coverage is Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC), which is an astroturf group for the coal generation industry. I believe they were also big sponsors in 2004 with their ads promoting their leading role in Bush's "Clear Skies" initiative. (Which Al Franken used to joke that the only thing it cleared the sky of was birds...)

Anonymous said...

Also, how about all the drugs that are being found in drinking water....the list goes on and on...mind boggling and it isn't difficult to see why people just turn off from what is going on in the environment. What is ineresting though, is the obscenely wealthy at the top, won't be able to get away to Shangri-la anymore to escape the ravages of environmental problems already here and to come. Maybe when they can't breath any longer something will be done. Perhaps by that time, they are hoping to be able to settle on Mars and begin it all over!!

The Mound of Sound said...

You're right RT. They are pernicious little bastards who insinuate themselves into these issues by flying false flags.

Anon, as for drugs in the water, maybe we simply need to adjust the balance to add more Soma. More Soma, more Soma.

The Mound of Sound said...

"I don't understand anything," she said with decision, determined to preserve her incomprehension intact. "Nothing. Least of all," she continued in another tone "why you don't take soma when you have these dreadful ideas of yours. You'd forget all about them. And instead of feeling miserable, you'd be jolly. So jolly,"

"By this time the soma had begun to work. Eyes shone, cheeks were flushed, the inner light of universal benevolence broke out on every face in happy, friendly smiles. Even Bernard felt himself a little melted."

"Swallowing half an hour before closing time, that second dose of soma had raised a quite impenetrable wall between the actual universe and their minds."

"All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects."

Anonymous said...

There was a report today on CBC out of Ontario regarding the amount of drugs found in recycled drinking water...look it up.

Scruffy Dan said...

"From what I've read you don't want underground carbon sequestration anywhere near human habitation."

hmmm... makes me think of a limnic eruption. NIMBY indeed

The Mound of Sound said...

Anon, I'm familiar with the drinking water contamination issue. There's plenty of it out here in pristine BC. In fact there's real concern about chemicals and hormones found contaminating salmon spawning rivers. Yikes. That's why I said Soma.

The Mound of Sound said...

Dan, thanks for the reference to "limnic" eruptions. That's exactly the problem associated with carbon sequestration - the sudden release of trapped CO2 killing everything in its path.

Anonymous said...

A bit of an aside but related....China admits it has a pollution problem unlike North America. Check out BBC's HardTalk with Stephen Sacker. The interview is with Madame Changhua Wu....she doesn't deny anything.