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View Diary: New German Data Shows No End in Sight for Coal (230 comments)

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  •  Yes, our #1 priority must be CLEAN coal.... (1+ / 0-)
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    ... it is just a reality that it will be a core element of electric power production for centuries to come.

    So, it is time to achieve true CLEAN exhaust from the power plants. We have the technical expertise to do the job, it is simply a matter of money and leverage... we must FORCE at gun point, the industry implementing the required changes.

    The sooner we do this, the sooner China and India can implement the changes on new power plants. The US and EU can retrofit old plants and use techniques on new plants.

    Which solution(s) are to be chosen depends of lots of factors, and what we may come up with if we really make the commitment to research solutions, all make for an exciting time.

    But the fantasy that we can be a fossil fuel free world any time soon is just that, the earthy crunchy purists need to get over it and face reality.

    There is no reason that a coal power plant can't be a near zero CO2 output device. Use the ash for constructive purposes, clean water, and something from the "cleaning" technology, whether it is algae gasoline, or cement or CO2 piped to oil reclamation to get more oil/gas out of the ground rather than fracking.

    But if we just keep talking past one another, living our fantasies of "burn it all" republicanism, or "fossil fuel free" earthy-crunchy-ism, we are never going to solve our problem.... and eventually all die from it (worst case scenario).

    •  Southern Power is building a clean coal plant (7+ / 0-)

      called the Kemper IGCC in Mississippi. It gasifies the coal and that will burn as clean as natural gas. The majority of CO2 will be scrubbed out of the exhaust gasses, piped  to Texas, injected underground and used to recover relatively carbon-free crude oil from a domestic source.  There's also much less ash left over from gasified coal.

      But Kemper is a spendy puppy, costing around $2 billion  for 600 +- megawatts, and the cost overruns aren't over yet. It soaked up several hundred million in federal loan guarantees and some direct grants.

      Haley Barbour, former Mississippi Governor and lobbyist supreme, slicked the federal DOE out of the money for his lobbying client, Southern Energy.

      Oh, the new surface coal mine for the plant is destroying 50 square miles of wetlands.

      My main beef with Kemper is that KBR, the former Brown & Root, is building it non-union and paying inferior  wages.

      Thank you very much for these statistics on the generation of German energy.  I suspected that coal use would have to increase there when the nukes blinked out.

      •  The Kemper plant captures 'up to' 2/3rds of CO2 (0+ / 0-)

        emissions from burning lignite(aka German 'brown coal')  making it as clean as natural gas, which they are supposed to pipe to Louisiana for enhanced oil recovery. Not a perfect solution but safer than nuclear and Northern Mississippi is close to the New Madrid earthquake zone. By new EPA rules all new coal plants must burn as clean as natural gas. The plant sits on top of and owns 4 billion tons of lignite so basically the fuel costs the company the few cents to dig it up and remediate the land.

      •  No such thing as 'carbon-free crude oil' (0+ / 0-)
        •  please note (0+ / 0-)

          I said "relatively" carbon free. Oil recovered from an otherwise abandoned oil field in Texas, with CO2 injection, results in less CO2 emissions per barrel produced, than oil drilled for in Chad, pumped into a pipeline with a diesel-fired compressor, and brought 8000 miles to the Midwest on a resid-oil powered tanker.

          Orly, it isn't evidence just because you downloaded it from the internet.

          by 6412093 on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 12:25:03 PM PST

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      •  Ah, but here is the rub. You can't just focus on (1+ / 0-)
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        Roadbed Guy

        flue gas emissions and capture.  The process for removing and conveying the CO2 is extremely energy intensive. If the goal is a net reduction in atmospheric CO2 emissions, you have to add in the extra energy it takes to operate this process (and its resulting CO2 generation), and then add that to the CO2 emitted from the stack from the baseline power generation.  You must look at the entire system-wide energy balance before determining if this does in fact reduce CO2 emissions.  You will soon discover that this is thermodynamically improbable.

        Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

        by bigtimecynic on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 07:31:33 AM PST

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    •  Agree, "All of the above" is the only way (2+ / 0-)
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      gzodik, Capt Morgan

      Nuclear, natural gas, and clean coal, have to make up 75-80% of all energy production for the forseeable future.  If I were king for a day, I'd begin right now a 50 year phase-out of coal using natural gas and nuclear, with nuclear replacing natural gas for everything but transporation in the following 25 years.  We're already powering mass transit busses and government cars with natural gas.  It works, and it's apparently safe - when was the last time you heard of a natural gas-powered bus explosion?

      As for nuclear, the Navy proved 50 years ago that you can build small, discreet, mobile reactors to power large ships.  I can't ever remember hearing about a radiation-related disaster from one of those ships or submarines.  Why can't all large buildings have their own discreet reactor?  

      It works.  The only reason to be against it is ideology, and that isn't going to save you from the coming sun tan.

    •  Yes there is. (5+ / 0-)
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      gzodik, wonmug, 6412093, BYw, bigtimecynic

      "There is no reason that a coal power plant can't be a near zero CO2 output device."

      It's called thermodynamics.  Every joule of energy you invest in reclaiming exhaust products is another joule you have to produce to meet demand, thus lowering the efficiency of the energy source.  

      Also, it seems like the people who advocate total reclamation don't quite understand the fact that there is a WHOLE LOT of waste to capture and clean up.  1KW/h of energy from coal produces about 2.1 lbs of CO2 gas -- and at STP, that's 517L of exhaust.  Right out of the exhaust it's actually gonna be more than that.  So if you're talking about a 100 MW coal plant, that's 51,200,000 liters of CO2 which needs to be dealt with, every hour.  Algal reclamation ain't gonna cut it.  Neither is sequestration, given the amount of power that you'd need to convert the CO2 to solid or pressurize it and pump it underground or whatever -- you'd need another power plant just to run that process.

      •  The under-construction Kemper (0+ / 0-)

        dsoal fired power plant  is designed to be zero CO2 emissions, but promises only 60% reductions.

        and yes, they are spending hundreds of millions extra to remove the CO2 and pump it into an oil field.

        Another CO2 removal project at a Port Arthur refinery costs a cool $400 million, paid by federal loan guarantees.

        But these companies are also getting around $20/ton for a couple million tons/year of CO2, so they could profit also.

    •  Nope on this.... (0+ / 0-)

      You said:

      The US and EU can retrofit old plants and use techniques on new plants.
      While pulverized coal power plants can be retrofitted to remove PM, SOX and NOX quite effectively, they are not good candidates at all for any kind of carbon capture and sequestration.   The reason for this is because the high volumetric rates for flue gases from atmospheric combustion of pulverized coal and the practical limitations on heat recovery from that flue gas mean very high energy consumption necessary to capture, compress and liquefy such a large volumetric stream.

      The only really practical way to do this coal utilization in a manner that will allow collection and sequestration is through gasification processes.

    •  iirc, making ALL coal plants CO2 neutral (3+ / 0-)
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      Lawrence, Frameshift, 6412093

      would take trillions and trillions and trillions of dollars; basically the kind of investment you would need to build colonies on the moon, or arcology skyscrapers.

      Technologically feasible......barely......but economically impossible. For now.

      "See? I'm not a racist! I have a black friend!"

      by TheHalfrican on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 11:32:06 PM PST

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    •  Technically define "clean coal", then we'll talk. (1+ / 0-)
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      Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

      by bigtimecynic on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 07:27:28 AM PST

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      •  Clean coal defined -- A gasified coal (0+ / 0-)

        plant with "conventional" pollution no worse than the same-capacity natural gas fired power plant, with at least 50% CO2 recovery, and sequesteration that assists in additional oil and/or gas recovery.

        Orly, it isn't evidence just because you downloaded it from the internet.

        by 6412093 on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 01:03:32 PM PST

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