have a coal and a smile
Industry hacks say the darndest things!
The Denver Post:
"Clean coal" power plants: environmental epiphany or junk science?
The debate rages today in an ironic setting, nearby conference rooms booked by two disparate groups at the Marriott City Center in Denver.
The irony is intentional, said Nancy LaPlaca of environmental advocacy group Ratepayers United of Colorado.
Once her group heard that a utility consulting firm was holding a clean-coal seminar, she knew that hers had to be there to balance the pros with the cons.
Or at least pose some tough questions.
"We're not necessarily opposed," she said. "But we're not sure it works."
Denver-based Electric Utility Consultants Inc. will be charging a walk-in registration fee of $1,395 to industry insiders.
Ratepayers United, playing to budget-minded activists, will charge nothing for its seminar.
Xcel Energy is proposing a test plant in Colorado to assess a new technology, known as integrated gasification combined cycle, or IGCC. It will cost at least $500 million and possibly $1 billion or more.
The plants, instead of burning pulverized coal, convert coal to a hydrogen gas. The gas is then burned to create steam and spin electricity-producing turbines.
Pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide can more easily be removed from gas than from coal.
So far, so good.
But then the big question: What to do with the COb?
In theory - but not yet in practice - IGCC plants can capture the carbon dioxide and pump it into spent oil and gas wells or vacated mines in a process known as sequestration.
Industry analysts and some environmental groups say that could be the key to reducing carbon emissions and their suspected link to global warming.
Yet no American power plant has successfully captured and sequestered carbon dioxide, even though a handful are classified as "capture ready."
Grist has a concise run-down of New Big Coal from last summer, and for a little while Central Denver's very own Keeper of The Matrix, The WashParkProphet, kept a tally of Killer Coal's casualties.
Apparently, there are some big enviros and presidential candidates on board with this, and all of it basically a cheerier, less snarl-y rewrite of the current President's embrace of the industry. For us enviros (for anyone who cares about the environment, reallly), this is the technology versus better solutions fight in the real: for the most part, clean coal (if it even works) is not renewable, merely a more efficient way of disposing of a part of the waste product at the end point of the whole process.