Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Invest in Clean Coal Technology

Clean coal techonology has become even more important after last weeks decision by the EPA saying that coal plants must limit CO2 emmissions.

Cullen West of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity wrote a guest column in the Des Moines Register calling for more research and investment in clean coal technology.
Meeting America's future electricity needs will include a variety of fuel resources, including coal. And, the question isn't whether we'll use coal (we will), the question is HOW we'll use coal. And the answer is cleanly.

For that reason, we need to be sure we keep putting dollars toward funding research into clean-coal technology. With the right investments in technology, coal will help power America through the 21st century and will do so with ultra-low emissions, including zero emissions of pollutants regulated by federal and state clean-air laws and the capture and storage of carbon dioxide.
I couldn't agree wtih him more. Clean coal that captures CO2 can be a big part of the diverse energy resources used for electricity needs.

However, West goes on to say that even though clean coal technology can't capture CO2 yet, we must build new plants now.
The bottom line is we need to continue building new coal plants that are carbon-capture ready, so that the plants can be retrofitted once the technology comes on line. If we were to go the other way, as some groups suggest, and eliminate coal from our energy mix, we would become overly dependent on other, more expensive forms of energy, such as natural gas, at nearly three times the cost of coal.
I don't see us becoming dependent on other forms of energy.  Iowa depends on coal for something like 80% of it's electrical needs.  It seems we are dependent on coal right now.

Instead of investing in relics of the last century, we should invest in the research and implementation of clean coal technology, while, at the same time be developing a sustainable renewable energy industry in the state.

1 comment:

Ben said...

West's point is a good one, developing clean coal and renewable energy technology isn't in an "either/or" competition with coal power plants. The fact is we need more electricity -now-. Neither wind nor solar is in a position to supply that power -now-, and the alternatives to coal are natural gas or oil (I leave out nuclear given the regulatory hurdles).

Yes we need to invest in new technologies for the future, no one disputes that. But building the future doesn't address the needs of today. Doing as West suggests and building plants that are easily retrofitted for future carbon capture technologies seems like a sensible solution.