Sunday, April 26, 2009

Clean Coal Revolution

Most of us involved in energy know that coal is a vital source of energy for the world. It provides
for at least one third of the world’s electricity, and more will be used as population continues to
increase. However, coal is considered to be one of the dirtiest sources of energy. There are several types of coal, each type varying in carbon composition. Some coal contains 97% carbon. When coal is burned, the carbon is released into the air along with several other pollutants. Countries today are trying to regulate this process due to the obvious negative effects it has on the environment.

Britain has recently set a huge precedent in carbon regulations with its energy policies pertaining to coal-fired power stations. Ed Miliband announced Thursday that no more power stations powered by coal would be built in the UK unless 25% of their greenhouse gases can be captured and buried. By the year 2025, all coal-fired power stations built in the UK will have to capture 100% of their greenhouse gases. Installing carbon capture capabilities on all carbon plants will cost about £1bn for each plant. This cost will be supplemented levies on fossil fuel electricity generation. Residents of Britain could in turn see a 2% rise in electricity bills, which would be well worth the money.

It seems that Britain takes great pride in leading this revolution of stern regulation on carbon
capture. New government leaders have impressed many people with their strong attention to detail when dealing with environmental issues. It’s kind of funny to see organizations like Greenpeace agreeing with and applauding government decisions dealing with the degree of concern for our environment. “At last Ed Miliband is demonstrating welcome signs of climate leadership in the face of resistance from Whitehall officials and cabinet colleagues. He is the first minister to throw down the gauntlet to the energy companies and demand they start taking climate change seriously," said John Sauven, Greenpeace UK's director.

Miliband does give a disclaimer stating the reason for the new regulation not requiring 100% capture of the carbon released from the coal plants. He says that it is not reasonable to expect this new technology to be that efficient from the start. The carbon capture process has to prove itself in large-scale processes before regulations can be pushed even further. Reports say that these new carbon regulations will not stop all environmentalist and climate change activists from protesting, as it shouldn’t. But I’m sure they can’t help but be a little pleased by the progress they are seeing.

I think it is extremely responsible for the “leader of this revolution” to not only set high standards for the present, but to set even higher standards of 100% carbon capture for the future. This move, tactic, (whatever you want to view it as) will have great influence on others countries around the world, especially the U.S.

1 comment:

rmk said...

This is a pretty big step, and as we have learned during the course of this semester, Britain (being an island-nation) has been especially pro-active in demonstrating their concerns about climate change.

I wonder how they will deal with the liability issue, which from my understanding has been a significant challenge for CCS.