Clean Coal

Clean energy debate gets super snarky with "Coal Cares" site

Clean energy debate gets super snarky with "Coal Cares" site You may have noticed in recent months that the coal industry has purchased a lot of ad time on cable networks. Many of them are running spots that tout coal as a clean and safe energy source that creates jobs. A group called “Coal Kills Kids” (CKK) is calling shenanigans on the dirty industry with their satiric site called “Coal Cares” that targets the world’s biggest coal company.

Visitors to Coal Cares may think that the site was sponsored by Missouri based Peabody Energy, but it was actually designed by CKK, an offshoot of the Yes Men. The group generates great fun by “Impersonating big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them. Our targets are leaders and big corporations who put profits ahead of everything else.”

Ancient fertilizer biochar joins modern fight against greenhouse gases

Biochar combats greenhouse gasesWhat do bone fragments, cow patties and banana peels have in common? They all help gardens grow. When processed into a charcoal-like substance called biochar instead of being burned directly for fuel, researchers say organic materials could offset as much as 12 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.

Benefits of biochar include improved soil fertility, reduced nitrous oxide and methane emissions from the soil and, during processing, the production of gas and oil that can be used to generate electricity in place of fossil fuels, according to a recent study published in the journal Nature Communications.

The study focused on sources of biomass not used for food, such as corn stalks, rice husks, livestock manure and yard trimmings. Researchers calculated the carbon content of each material and found that, at maximum, using biochar could offset up to 1.8 billion tons of carbon emissions each year. Their most conservative estimate put the carbon offset at just under 1 billion tons each year.

Combining clean coal and solar energy: the wave of the future?

clean Independently, solar energy and clean coal have both been explored extensively with the hope of some day offering a viable, global alternative energy solution. What if turns out, however, that the solution wasn't in either one, but both, collectively?

Many passionately believe that clean coal is not the answer to decreasing carbon emissions or increasing the supply of energy. In fact, since Obama's decision to set aside $2.4 billion dollars "to lead the world in CCS technologies," disagreements (and for that matter, debates) have surfaced about its legitimacy as a true carbon-fighting, energy-producing solution.

Coal power has a broken relationship with the world economy

Coal power has a broken relationship with the world economy Half of the electric power in the United States is generated by coal, compared to 80% in China. India also has a growing appetite for electricity and right now coal is its cheapest solution. With so much of the world’s power centered on coal, any country that’s serious about reducing carbon emissions will need to renovate or replace coal power plants with something cleaner.

Clean coal has a nebulous reputation, and it seems to mean different things depending on who you ask. Obama supports it, and suggests that one way to reduce carbon emissions from coal is to extract key chemicals from it that are capable of creating fuel, leaving the carbon in a solid state.

Calstar building case for coal one brick at a time

Calstar building case for coal one brick at a time Fly ash is a nasty substance created during coal combustion. It used to be released into the atmosphere until someone realized putting things like chromium, boron, lead and mercury into the air isn’t necessarily such a good idea.

Instead, we collect it by the ton, either in landfills or at power plant sites. In the U.S., around 131 million tons of the stuff is produced annually each year.

But now companies are finding new uses for fly ash. In fact, around 43 percent of it was reused in 2008 because of companies like CalStar. Reinventing the way bricks are made, CalStar uses steam baths instead of traditional clay bricks, which actually take coal or natural gas energy to power kilns.

Other uses of fly ash include embankment construction, soil stabilization, and concrete. These innovations equate to progress until alternative energies are affordable and adaptable enough to break into the market without a huge amount of government subsidies.

Clean coal a necessary evil until renewable energy catches up

Clean coal a necessary evil until renewable energy catches up China and the United States are huge energy consumers and right now a majority of that energy is generated by coal. An instant switch to renewable energy would certainly be the ideal solution but that isn’t realistic given the installed energy infrastructure and our current ability to harness power from renewable sources. Given that scenario clean coal begins to look a little bit like an OK temporary solution despite its roots that start with industry cash cows.

The recent Copenhagen conference held high hopes for many but the end result was a non-binding agreement with voluntary targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That means individual countries will largely be driving any efforts toward green business, and perhaps within those countries business leaders will now play a key role in creating change. Clean coal may be a compromise between preserving some existing profit from coal energy and building a new production model based on renewable sources.

Clean coal supporters digging for gold and legitimacy

Clean coal supporters digging for gold and legitimacy Controlling the carbon and chemicals produced by burning goal for energy is the basic premise behind clean coal, but its supporters are struggling to develop legitimacy. Critics have pointed out that pollutants like mercury that are released regularly into the environment and entire geological landscapes are altered from practices like strip mining. Now a forum in New York agrees that clean coal will require a lot more cash before it can become an effective countermeasure.

A nationwide tax in the United States that charged companies based on carbon emissions might provide the kind of investment required. Not surprisingly, the most expensive part of the process is also the most costly to solve.

Clean Coal is the latest marketing farse courtesy of the ACCCE

Coal Plant Coal companies obviously have a rock solid source of income, and it’s fueled by steady demand from a worldwide energy-consuming population. With resources like that it might make sense for them to invest in methods to reduce their negative impact on the environment, but instead they’ve decided to pump millions of dollars into an abject marketing campaign. Realizing the potential for bad publicity, the coal industry has formed the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) to do its dirty work.

Of course, that’s not to say that eventually we could see some sort of successful clean coal technology, probably not until 2030. The fundamental problem here is a focus by the coal industry on preserving its existing business practices instead of developing new, more renewable methods of generating electricity.