Category Archives: coal

“Emissions soar from UK generators”


A new report shows that between 1999 and 2006, emissions from the power-generating sector have risen 30% in the UK. This is due in part to the fact that power companies have been increasingly using coal as oil prices have risen more dramatically. More on the WWF report at the link below:

“This is a disgrace for Britain, and shows that for the past decade the government has talked a good game on climate change while failing dismally to tackle emissions from this highly polluting sector,” said Keith Allott, head of climate change at WWF UK.

“If the government is serious about climate change, the power sector has to be brought to heel, either through incentives or legislation, so that coal burn is dramatically reduced.”

In the early 1990s, the opening up of North Sea reserves prompted a move to gas, which saw coal-fired power stations close and cleaner gas-fired plants spring up in their place.

Since 2002, coal prices have risen by about one-third and gas prices by two-thirds, with gas showing a lot more volatility.

[BBC]

Global boom in coal power – and emissions

Well TXU may have decided to scrap its plans for 8 new coal plants, but that doesn’t mean that others are following suit.

Worldwide, more than two coal-fired plants are brought online a week, according to a new analysis by the Christian Science Monitor. The paper writes that these plants have added 1 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. Even more troubling, emissions from these coal-fired power plants now compose about 1/3 of humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions.

China, unsurprisingly, is a major contributor to this problem:

China accounted for two-thirds of the more than 560 coal-fired power units built in 26 nations between 2002 and 2006. The Chinese plants boosted annual world CO2 emissions by 740 million tons. But in the next five years, China is slated to slow its buildup by half, according to industry estimates, adding 333 million tons of new CO2 emissions every year. That’s still the largest increase of any nation. But other nations appear intent on catching up.

But, the US isn’t much better. In fact, 2.7GW of new coal-fired generation have been deployed in the last five years. The real problem though is future plans – another 37.7GW of coal power in the next five years, according to Platts, the research firm. Those new plants will add 247.8 million tons of CO2 to the atmosphere annually.

Even European nations that are signatories to the Kyoto Protocol are hopping on the coal bandwagon:

China accounted for two-thirds of the more than 560 coal-fired power units built in 26 nations between 2002 and 2006. The Chinese plants boosted annual world CO2 emissions by 740 million tons. But in the next five years, China is slated to slow its buildup by half, according to industry estimates, adding 333 million tons of new CO2 emissions every year. That’s still the largest increase of any nation. But other nations appear intent on catching up.

[CSMonitor]

‘The Precarious Future of Coal’

Energy experts from MIT have released a long-awaited report on the future of coal. The report recommends that much more be done to develop technology for decreasing the impact of burning coal on global warming. The report also challenges some conventional thinking about the best way forward. It criticizes current efforts by the Department of Energy (DOE) and calls for an approximately $5 billion, 10-year program to demonstrate technology for capturing and storing carbon dioxide released by coal-fired power plants.

The report, based on a study by 13 MIT faculty members, comes at a time when growing concerns about global warming are making it increasingly likely that governments worldwide will impose a price on carbon-dioxide emissions to force a cut in the release of this important greenhouse gas. Nevertheless, coal, the leading source of carbon-dioxide emissions from electricity generation, will continue to be a major source of electricity, say the authors of the report. That’s because even with a high price on carbon, coal is abundant and probably necessary to meet fast-growing demand for energy worldwide.

Reducing the impact of continued coal use on global warming will require a massive effort to collect carbon dioxide from power plants and bury it underground, the experts say. The volume of compressed carbon dioxide that will need to be captured and transported is similar in scale to the amount of oil consumed in the United States, the report says.

[Technology Review]

Related Article: Burying Greenhouse Gases will be Key (CSMonitor)

Coal in cars: great fuel or climate foe?

Coal companies want to fuel your car and lately, they’re getting a lot of political support for the idea.

Turning coal into gasoline-like fuel has several advantages. It would use America’s vast coal reserves. It would reduce the nation’s thirst for foreign oil and help dampen spikes in energy prices. There’s just one problem: It is not “climate friendly” – at least, not yet.

Coal-to-liquids (CTL) fuels could end up emitting nearly double the carbon dioxide that the equivalent amount of gasoline does, mostly because of the way it’s manufactured. The CTL industry says new technology will fix the problem. But because such technology is not yet developed, it’s unclear whether CTL fuels would be competitive without state and federal subsidies, even competing against high-priced diesel, jet fuel, or gasoline, analysts say.

That’s where politicians come in. The National Mining Association has ramped up Capitol Hill lobbying, creating a new coalition and website, futurecoalfuels.org. Many in Washington are warming to the idea. CTL bills in the House of Representatives and the Senate have received strong backing.

Supporters of the bill range from Sen. Barack Obama (D) of Illinois to President Bush. In his State of the Union speech Jan. 23, Mr. Bush called for the United States to produce 35 billion gallons of “alternative fuel” by 2017. The nation doesn’t grow enough corn to meet even half that total. By setting that goal and using the term “alternative” rather than “renewable” fuel, the president was making the case for CTL, some analysts say.

[CSMonitor]