Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Emerging "Clean" Energy Leader: Abu Dhabi?

I found this BBC article very interesting. Oil rich Abu Dhabi just announced that it's going to spend $15 billion over the next 5 years to build a "clean energy" (how do they define clean?) city for 50,000 people that uses a variety of cleaner (since nothing can be declared clean) energy technologies along with the world's first power plant that reforms hydrogen from natural gas and captures the resulting CO2 for storage or enhanced oil recovery. For a little perspective, the entire U.S. Dept. of Energy budget is about $23b, and it's only $13.5b if you subtract money specified for national defense.

Now there is no time line specified in the article, and I am certainly skeptical of the feasibility of the project, but hey, if anyone is going to spend $15 billion, I'd hope that they're serious about what they're getting for it (though I guess if you look at the US budget...). I also find it funny that the article quotes the Abu Dhabi goverment as declaring the initiative "the most ambitious sustainability project ever launched by a government." So you may not be emitting CO2 at your hydrogen plant, but you are using natural gas to make it... doesn't sound so sustainable (or efficient) to me.

But personally, I think that we're going to have to live with unsustainable energy sources for quite some time, so lets work on cutting their emissions before all the ice melts. It's going to take lots of big investments like these all over the world to prove the technologies that can help us mitigate climate change, and I applaud any individual, company, or government that takes such a bold step.

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