Posts Tagged ‘coal’
Locally manufactured wind generator in Pavlodar, Kazakhstan
Oil-rich Kazakhstan will spend 1 percent of annual output every year until 2050 to increase power generation from greener sources, a senior official said, cutting its dependence on coal far faster than some of the world’s big polluters.
The Central Asian country, the world’s ninth largest by area but populated by just 17 million people, holds about 3 percent of the global recoverable oil reserves. However, its fast, oil-propelled growth hinges on high oil prices.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev, a former steelworker who has ruled for more than two decades, has signed off on a state program on developing sources of renewable energy.
“According to our estimates, total investments – state and private – needed to implement this program will amount annually to an average of $3.2 billion in the period until 2050, or roughly 1 percent of GDP,” Environmental Protection Minister Nurlan Kapparov told a news briefing…
“This is not such a high price for the clean air, for the health of our children and the preservation of ecological systems, as well as for our economy’s resilience to external shocks which assume more threatening proportions each year.”
Coal-fired power stations, which heavily pollute the atmosphere, currently account for around 80 percent of Kazakhstan’s electricity generation.
Kapparov said, provided domestic natural gas prices were high, Kazakhstan’s “energy basket” by 2030 would be made up of 11 percent generated by wind and the sun, 8 percent by nuclear power, 10 percent by hydro power, 21 percent by gas and 49 percent by coal…
The “green revolution” can add annually up to 3 percent of GDP to Kazakhstan’s current economic growth in the period until 2050, Kapparov said, and create up to 600,000 new jobs.
Looking forward is rarely part of the skill set of politicians. That seems to be a global character trait – with a few exceptions.
It’s always good news for the rest of the planet, as well, when a small, unique portion of the world’s economic machinery decides to include sensible environmental goals into their planning.
In the United States, we’d be improving the odds if we even considered planning.
After studying chemistry at Shanghai’s Fudan University, Jane Chuan and Wang Youqi pursued doctorates in the U.S. She got hers from what’s now the University of Buffalo in 1988, the year they married. Wang graduated in 1994 from the California Institute of Technology.
A few years later, they were cashing in stock options in Silicon Valley companies they’d co-founded, one of which created a luminescent chemical to store X-ray images. Their home in Atherton, California, had seven bedrooms, 11 bathrooms and an acre of land…
By 2000, Wang was convinced that the research methods he was patenting could help stave off the environmental nightmare he saw unfolding during return visits to his homeland. China, already reeling from pollution, was poised to more than double coal consumption during the decade. That would choke cities with smog and exacerbate global warming.
Chuan, 61, bespectacled and smiling in her white lab coat, remembers pounding the pavement to pitch U.S. investors on cleaning China’s coal. Only a handful of California’s Internet- obsessed venture capitalists bit, she says.
So, in 2003, the couple moved back to Shanghai, the city from which they had emigrated 18 years earlier. They crammed into a 1,100-square-foot apartment that was hot in the summer, cold in the winter and crowded with two teenage children home from boarding school on weekends.
By 2006, Wang had his breakthrough in sight. He’d found a way to unlock a chemical stored in the coal that was poisoning his country and to put it to an unlikely use: cleaning China’s air.
The catalyst he discovered speeds reactions that convert methanol extracted from coal into a substance called dimethyl carbonate. By adding dimethyl carbonate to diesel fuel, Wang now plans to cut 90 percent of black carbon soot from the tailpipe emissions of 1,800 Shanghai buses by year-end…
Yashentech’s emissions-busting effort is one way in which China is racing to solve its clean-energy riddle: How can a country that’s hooked on coal mitigate environmental damage from the dirtiest of fossil fuels..?
With 1.3 billion people, power-hungry industries and scant oil or natural gas, it has no immediate alternatives to coal for fueling its economy. China gets 70 percent of its energy from coal, three times the U.S. figure. It even converts coal into diesel fuel and ammonia that’s used for making fertilizer…
China can’t quit coal. But with efforts from entrepreneurs, mining enterprises and electricity giants, it’s ready to tackle its addiction, says Zhou Fengqi, senior adviser to the Energy Research Institute of the government’s National Development and Reform Commission.
“Now that people have meat and fish to eat every day, the environment has also become a big concern,” Zhou says. “China is not like a developed country. We can’t simply stop using coal. If we want to use it, we have to clean it up.”
RTFA. The is only an excerpt from the beginning of an extensive review of the multiplicity of tech used, experimented with, being developed in China to handle the severe environmental questions they need to answer and solve. Fortunately, the resolve is there as well as the political will.
The article covers everything from coal to spirulina, omega-3 fatty acids to carbonated drinks. What’s most important? “In China, we get lots of support from the people, politicians and moneymakers,” Chuan says.
As Congress debates legislation to slow global warming by limiting emissions, engineers are tinkering with ways to capture and store carbon dioxide, the leading heat-trapping gas.
But coal-fired power plants, commonly identified as the nation’s biggest emissions villain, may not be the best focus. Rather, engineers and policymakers say, it may be easier and less costly to capture the carbon dioxide at oil refineries, chemical plants, cement factories and ethanol plants, which emit a far purer stream of it than a coal smokestack does…
Lending momentum to this thinking, a Texas company, Denbury Resources, is building a 320-mile pipeline for carbon dioxide that will run from Louisiana to Houston.
Initially the pipeline will take natural underground deposits of carbon dioxide in Mississippi to the aging oil fields of east Texas, where it can be used to force more oil to the surface.
But as the pipeline threads its way through more and more refineries and plants — the chemical heartland of the United States — manmade carbon dioxide captured at those sites could also be added and stored.
Sequestering a ton of carbon dioxide from a chemical plant would have the same effect on the Earth’s atmosphere as storing a ton from a coal plant, scientists and industry executives emphasize.
“Sequestration is not a coal technology — it is a greenhouse gas abatement strategy,” said S. Julio Friedmann, leader of the carbon management program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory…
What oil drillers pay for carbon dioxide depends on the value of the oil it will help produce. When oil is at $70 a barrel, carbon dioxide goes for $10 or $11 a ton, said Tracy Evans, the chief executive of Denbury, the Texas company building the carbon dioxide pipeline.
Should the Congressional legislation mandate a cap-and-trade system, that modest price could be very important. “Wherever you can go to store a ton of carbon the most cheaply, you will go,” said Mr. Holmstead, the former E.P.A. administrator for air.
Not only applies reason to the questions of sequestration vs. source, it begins to make cap-and-trade sound sensible, viable.
The local mine is a mere three miles away and is clearly visible from the offices of the Brecon Mountain Railway in Merthyr Tydfil.
But regulations about how it can be transported mean that coal for the railway’s newly converted steam train comes not from the south Wales valleys but from Siberia, 3,000 miles away.
Coal from the Ffos-y-Fran opencast mine in Merthyr has to be moved by rail rather than road. As there is no rail link from the mine to the railway, coal for the converted engine comes from the wilds of Siberia via rail to the ports, then container ship to Hull, then by road to Merthyr…
The railway owner, Jayne Hills said it was even more galling because the local coal was perfect for use in a steam locomotive. It generates steam quickly and maintains its heat…
“Being from Merthyr, where everyone has a relative who was a coal miner, or knew somebody who was a miner, this seems just crazy,” she said.
The mine operator, Miller Argent, said it was not just the railway that had to source coal from faraway locations despite there being a mine close by. Local coal merchants who supply homes, pubs, schools and hospitals were also having to look elsewhere for their supply because the mine’s planning permission stipulated it could only move coal by rail.
See. It’s not the Republicans – alone – who invented Red Tape.
Sometimes, I think that nations beginning to fail at imperialism have to do something with excess bureaucrats; so, they put them to work “regulating” the lives of ordinary citizens.
CO₂ capture facility sprawls alongside cooling tower at Mountaineer plant
Poking out of the ground near the smokestacks of the Mountaineer power plant here are two wells that look much like those that draw natural gas to the surface. But these are about to do something new: inject a power plant’s carbon dioxide into the earth.
A behemoth built in 1980, long before global warming stirred broad concern, Mountaineer is poised to become the world’s first coal-fired power plant to capture and bury some of the carbon dioxide it churns out. The hope is that the gas will stay deep underground for millennia rather than entering the atmosphere as a heat-trapping pollutant.
The experiment, which the company says could begin in the next few days, is riveting the world’s coal-fired electricity sector, which is under growing pressure to develop technology to capture and store carbon dioxide. Visitors from as far as China and India, which are struggling with their own coal-related pollution, have been trooping through the plant.
The United States still depends on coal-fired plants, many of them built decades ago, to meet half of its electricity needs. Some industry experts argue that retrofitting them could prove far more feasible than building brand new, cleaner ones.
Yet the economic viability of the Mountaineer plant’s new technology, known as carbon capture and sequestration, remains uncertain…
And as with any new technology, even the engineers are unsure how well it will work: will all of the carbon dioxide stay put?
Should be interesting as all get-out. Of course, regardless of results, diehard coal investors will claim it worked. The Earth-religion segment of environmentalist activists will claim it didn’t.
I’m waiting for solid data, analysis that is peer-reviewed – preferably by universities without subsidies from coal companies.
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission
In the high-stakes game of climate change, the United States and other countries are betting on the idea that technology can make dirty coal cleaner.
For years if not decades, U.S. efforts to develop big coal-fired power plants that push CO2 emissions into the ground instead of spewing them into the atmosphere have stalled. The situation has gotten so bad that green-tech experts refer to this period of technological development as the “valley of death” for carbon capture and storage technology, or CCS…
“If we’re going to be able to add carbon capture and storage to our toolbox of ways to address climate change, the time to demonstrate it is right now — or yesterday, maybe,” said Sarah Forbes, a senior associate at the World Resources Institute. “CO2 emissions are continuing to rise, and we’re seeing impacts of climate change…”
And President Obama last month announced a $1 billion revamp of the country’s flagship CCS research project, a near-zero-emissions coal-fired power plant in Illinois called FutureGen. It’s urgent that both efforts succeed, Forbes said…
About half of U.S. power comes from coal, and the process of burning coal for electricity accounts for about 80 percent of the country’s CO2 emissions from electricity, according to the Energy Information Administration.
Renewable energy sources like wind and solar — which, together, account for less than 2 percent of U.S. electricity production — won’t be able to ramp up fast enough to replace coal, said Scott Anderson, a senior policy adviser at the Environmental Defense Fund.
“We’re not champions of coal at EDF, but we’re realists,” he said. “Although we see room for a huge expansion of renewable energy and efficiency, in the near term, we don’t think that coal is going away. … We still have a huge existing base of coal plants that will be around, at a minimum, for a number of decades.”
In the United States, many are pinning hopes on FutureGen…The project took a blow in late June, however, when two of its private-sector backers, American Electric Power Co. and Southern Co., withdrew. Because of delays and cost overruns, the project has earned the nickname “NeverGen.”
Meanwhile, other nations are moving ahead. In China, the similarly named GreenGen plant is expected to be completed before FutureGen. Australia has a project called ZeroGen, and several European countries are working on similar technologies.
Some have described the situation as an arms race. The country first to prove that CCS works may be able to export the technology elsewhere.
Obama probably has the best quote on the question: “If we managed to put a man on the moon in 10 years I think we can do the same with coal-based production of electricity.” Or something like that.
Point being – as an ecology activist for decades I think it would be foolish to pass on the energy potential of our great coal deposits because some don’t like the idea of using it – at all. That’s not science. It’s not even ideology. It’s religion.
The Canadian government plans new regulations that will effectively phase out traditional coal-fired power stations, Environment Minister Jim Prentice said in an interview just published.
He told the Globe and Mail newspaper that new coal plants would have to include technology to capture greenhouse gas emissions and inject them underground for permanent storage.
Ottawa also plans to impose absolute emission caps on utilities’ existing coal-fired power plants and establish a market-based system to allow them to buy credits to meet those targets, he said.
“The approach that we’ve been working toward involves a cap-and-trade system relating to thermal coal, and the requirement of phasing out those facilities as they reach the end of their useful, fully amortized life,” Prentice said.
“The concept is that, as these facilities are fully amortized and their useful life fully expended, they would not be replaced with coal,” he added, saying the regulations would be unveiled later this year.
The Globe said coal-fired electricity represents roughly 18 per cent of Canada’s current emissions, and eight of the 10 largest greenhouse gas emitters in the country are coal-fired power plants.
I can’t help reacting to the cap-and-trade babble as something approaching transmogrification – and not much closer to the real world. Add to that some agitprop telling me a Conservative government is taking the side of science over wealthy shareholders and you’ll forgive me while I search for my Wellies.
Of course, they could just be scheduling all these “positive” changes to be stepped into place just after succeeding elections.
The morning shift comes up into the daylight… Mick Barnes and his mates, once again, are doing what they do best.
The miners are back. The tough, proud men of coal. A quarter of a century after the bitter strike that nearly finished it off, their industry is ready to stage a remarkable revival.
“None of us would ever have predicted this,” says Mick, 47, after he’s scrubbed away the dust and grime from eight hours underground.
“Did the miners lose the strike? Yes, we did, to be honest. We took on Margaret Thatcher and the might of the Tory Government, and we lost. But look what’s happening now. In the end, we’re the ones having the last laugh, Maggie.”
Under plans announced by the Government this month, an updated Hatfield Main will provide the fuel for a new breed of carbon-friendly power stations – linked directly to one that will be built next door by 2014, at a cost of £1 billion.
Jobs should be assured for decades. The seam they are mining now could last for at least 50 years. Suddenly, Mick and the rest can glimpse the flicker of a bright future.
A delightful tale. A piece of writing [forgive me] I wouldn’t have expected inside the Mirror. And I like the Mirror.
RTFA. Reflect upon people ready and willing to re-examine what life and industry may now have to offer. They never gave up.
Four Corners Power Plant – strip mined coal and belching away!
The change promised by U.S. President-elect Barack Obama will extend to the Energy Department, where the next energy secretary is likely to focus more than ever on renewable and alternative energy sources and less on traditional fossil fuels like crude oil.
Steven Chu, Obama’s pick to be energy secretary, will play a major role in implementing the incoming president’s plan to resuscitate the U.S. economy with millions of new green energy jobs that will cut America’s polluting emissions and the country’s addiction to foreign oil supplies.
“The biggest challenge for the next energy secretary is to develop, support, and adopt clean energy policies that put Americans to work and reduce global warming pollution,” said Dan Weiss, energy expert at the Center for American Progress think tanks.
“The Energy Department must shift its mission to speeding the transformation to a clean energy economy, rather than finding new ways to concoct or burn fossil fuels,” Weiss said.
Crude oil and gasoline prices have become less of an issue now that the U.S. recession and the weak global economy has reduced petroleum demand and slashed energy costs for consumers. That will last about as long as the recession.
Other challenges facing Chu will be modernizing the U.S. electricity grid, whether to boost the size of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and if the emergency stockpile should be used to lower fuel prices and how to store the millions of radioactive waste now at nuclear power plants and government weapons sites.
How can you write this article without mentioning a need for someone-or-other to get serious about Clean Coal? The coal producers have essentially done diddly-squat. Milking every minute of the Bush League energy fiasco, hoping against hope that John McCain would be elected.
If we’re up for modernizing the electricity grid and maybe – finally – getting serious about electricity for transportation, we have a vast resource in coal ready to be used. But, not at the expense of the environment. My enviro brother and sisters aren’t as kooky as the Euro-flavor-Green; but, giving coal producers carte blanche to strip-mine and crank up the carbon ain’t about to happen.
Four Corners Power Plant – keeping Southern California happy
Environmentalists said that the coal industry was reeling following a ruling by the Environmental Appeals Board, an independent body of adjudicators within the Environmental Protection Agency.
The decision — which responded to a Sierra Club petition to review an E.P.A. permit granted to a coal plant in Utah — does not require the E.P.A. to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, something which environmentalists have long sought.
Rather, it requires the agency’s regional office to at least consider whether to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, before the agency gives a green light to build the Utah plant. On a broader scale, it will delay the building of coal-fired power plants across the country, long enough for the Obama administration to determine its policy on coal, according to David Bookbinder, chief climate counsel for the Sierra Club.
“They’re sending this permit — and effectively sending every other permit — back to square one,” he said, adding, “It’s minimum a one to two year delay for every proposed coal-fired power plant in the United States.”
The decision references the landmark Massachusetts v. E.P.A. decision last year that declared carbon dioxide a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. That ruling, however, has not yet prompted the E.P.A. to act to regulate it.
Through the past eight years of know-nothing and do-less administration, whether the issue is the environment, war, education or the economy, the E.P.A. has fallen in line with our government’s reluctance to place public good ahead of corporate profits.
George W. Bush simply carried on with the voodoo versions of Ronald Reagan’s economics, environmental policy – and added in a war or two.
BTW – the dumbest headline of the week came from the AP which said, “Coal plants jeopardized over climate“. Never occurred to them the climate might be jeopardized by coal plants?