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50 responses to “Who killed clean coal?”

  1. dk.au

    Interesting stuff. Also notable is a recent GAO report calling for a more thorough analysis of CCS costs. It was available here http://www.gao.gov/ but appears to have disappeared from the site momentarily.

  2. David Rubie

    But there’s a broader question here. While it’s beyond the scope of the report, there doesn’t seem to be any indication that industry was lobbying to save the project. That’s just bizarre.

    No, it’s not bizarre. It’s entirely within character for the energy and mining industries (why else do they give the IPA here money to keep Marohasy et. al. spouting garbage through the MSM).

    I would be utterly gobsmacked if there was a single industry participant who took CCS at all seriously, given that even a quick skim over the proposed solutions reveals it all to be either unworkable or impossibly expensive.

  3. Aussie Oskar

    There doesn’t seem to be any indication that industry was lobbying to save the project.

    And if there was something to lobby about, these guys would be the ones to do it. This report shows some fairly gobsmacking stats about how their lobbying power on the Hill has been bolstered into the stratoshere (300% increase) over the last 5 years.

    Domestically, I think one of their strengths is not just their numbers & $ but that they can avoid having to engage in any kind of conversation about CC that doesn’t involve how much worse off they’ll be financially. Does International Power, the Hazelwood operators, have a position on how many ppm CO2 is desirable by 2050?

    I certainly haven’t heard any reporters ask ’em.

  4. mitchell porter

    “there doesn’t seem to be any indication that industry was lobbying to save the project”

    See page 16 of the House report. Also page 36.

  5. carbonsink

    Whatever senior executives in the coal industry personally think about climate change, they’d have to be completely moronic to think that carbon regulation isn’t coming.

    How so? I mean, what we have in Australia is pathetically timid. Why should the US coal executives expect anything particularly onerous?

  6. Roger Jones

    Meanwhile, in the proposed US budget for 2010:

    Begin a Comprehensive Approach to Transform Our Energy Supply and Slow Global Warming. The Administration is developing a comprehensive energy and climate change plan to invest in clean energy, end our addiction to oil, address the global climate crisis, and create new American jobs that cannot be outsourced. After enactment of the Budget, the Administration will work expeditiously with key stakeholders and the Congress to develop an economy-wide emissions reduction program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions approximately 14 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, and approximately 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. This program will be implemented through a cap-and-trade system, a policy approach that dramatically reduced acid rain at much lower costs than the traditional government regulations and mandates of the past. Through a 100 percent auction to ensure that the biggest polluters do not enjoy windfall profits, this program will fund vital investments in a clean energy future totaling $150 billion over 10 years, starting in Fy 2012. The balance of the auction revenues will be returned to the people, especially vulnerable families, communities, and businesses to help the transition to a clean energy economy.

    The whole story can be accessed here

    Barack can now ring our Kev05. “Kevin, don’t be the Sarah Palin of the South. 15% – you can change. Join us in a clean energy future, we can do it together, yes we can.”

  7. Robert Merkel

    Mitchell: mildly unhappy submissions to public inquiries is hardly “lobbying” in the traditional US sense.

  8. Dave55


    Check out the base that the 14% reduction that the US is working from – 2005 figures. A 5% reduction for us from 2000 levels equates to around a 11% reduction on 2005 levels – not so far from the US target.

  9. Dave55

    On the CCS side of things, there is movement here in Australia and from a Government level a lot of money is being thrown at this from both States and Cth to see if it will work. The Climate institute, WWF and CFMEU are pushing it as well to see if it can be made to work quickly so we don’t waste money chasing mirages well into the future.

    Geologically, the storage aspect of CCS is feasible and is used already as part of enhanced oil recovery in the US and other countries. Our problem here in Aus is that the size of potential known storage sites aren’t big enough (or close enough) to the main sources to make it commercially viable. The reason why we are pushing it, isn’t because it will help Australia’s emissions so much but because it can be used by other countries with better geology who can then buy our coal into the future. The Australian coal companies are investing in CCS for this reason. The problem for the US is that their coal reserves aren’t as good or as big as ours so the driver to invest just isn’t there.

    Another reason why industry may not have pushed it in the US and are quietish about it here is that advocating it is an acknowledgement that they can achieve reductions and probably at reasonable cost; such an acknowledgement doesn’t help their bargaining position regarding freebies under an ETS or carbon tax regime. Watch the investment ramp up as soon as we have a cost on carbon.

  10. MikeM

    And here was me thinking that this thread would be about the really devious way that the Bush Administration killed clean coal – by misrepresenting the cost:

    Peabody May Get Clean-Coal Plant That Bush Rejected

    March 12 (Bloomberg) — A clean-coal power plant backed by Peabody Energy Corp. and American Electric Power Co. and rejected by Republican President George W. Bush may be revived by the industries’ usual political adversaries: Democrats.

    The FutureGen project in Illinois, designed to burn coal and capture 90 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions, was abandoned by the Bush administration in 2008 after the Energy Department overestimated its cost by $500 million, according to a report yesterday by the Government Accountability Office.

    The plant’s revival is being championed by Illinois politicians led by the second-ranking Democrat in the U.S. Senate, Dick Durbin. President Barack Obama, of Illinois, has also backed development of “clean-coal” technology.


    The GAO said FutureGen’s projected cost during the Bush administration should have been $1.3 billion, rather than the $1.8 billion estimated by the Energy Department. Chu said yesterday that he has “seen estimates as high as $2.3 billion, based on today, with escalation.”

    Apparently the misrepresentation was achieved by comparing the original estimate in 2000 dollars with a revised estimate in 2007 dollars, making the increase seem far bigger than it was.

  11. Brian

    Whatever senior executives in the coal industry personally think about climate change, they’d have to be completely moronic to think that carbon regulation isn’t coming.

    Robert, I’d had in mind to do a post about the role of the EPA with respect to coal in the US, but wanted to do some more research. Anyway I’ll whack a bit in here and we’ll see what anyone else knows.

    Last month Dave Roberts at Grist did a post about plans for the EPA to regulate CO2 under the Clean Air Act. It seems that they’ve had a head of power to do so for some time:

    the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2007’s Mass. vs. EPA that the EPA does indeed have the authority to regulate CO2 as an air pollutant under the Clean Air Act. The EPA must determine whether greenhouse gas emissions are a threat to public health — that is, issue an “endangerment finding” — and if it finds a danger (duh), it must issue regulations.

    Note the use of the word “must”. Roberts said that the previous EPA chief Stephen Johnson “delayed and dissembled until the clock ran out.” Jo Romm at Climate Progress says that he issued a midnight memo “which sought to prohibit controls on global warming pollution from coal plants”, a memo that Lisa Jackson, the new Administrator granted a request from the Sierra Club to reconsider.

    Roberts says that:

    Jackson has said explicitly that she will get the process underway soon. [In fact, as I write this, she got underway!] Some time in the coming year, likely before the passage of a carbon pricing bill, the EPA will make its endangerment finding and propose regulations that govern CO2.

    The beauty about regs is that they can provide “hard legal limits” and that they don’t need to go through congress.

    If you read Roberts’ post through, there are some difficulties about regulating a global pollutant and there is a question of strategy. Will the regs be used to effectively prevent the building of new coal-fired power plants, or will the threat of regs be used to domesticate the coal industry?

    I’m wondering how much independence does the EPA have in the US anyway? Can Ms Jackson decide her own strategy, or will she get her orders from on high? In other words who does she answer to?

  12. Peterc

    Clean Coal? I thought it was now Green Coal? I think the basic laws of physics/thermodynamics and the art of economics have now overtaken the PR gumpf about the chimera of “Old Clean Coal”

    Some politicians certainly believe in it. I spoke to Petro Georgiou (Kooyong) on the campaign trail in 2007 who chaired a parliamentary subcommittee on geosequestration. He was utterly convinced it would work and was the most effective and appropriate thing Australia could do to take action on climate change.

    So the industry lobbyists (and the hollowmen) seem to have done their job well. Not sure if he still believes this nonsense, but undoubtedly a significant proportion of politicians from both major parties do. Perhaps even a majority.

    Meanwhile, Stern has just stated that governments are killing the planet by stalling action on climate change, and the world’s leading scientists yesterday issued a desperate plea to politicians to act on climate change, amid warnings that without action the world faces decades of social unrest and war.


  13. jo

    Who killed the clean coal….

    the Coen Brothers?

  14. Robert Merkel

    Dave55: the view seems to be here in Victoria that there’s plenty of viable storage sites.

    NSW is another story. Bob Carr might get to build his nukes after all.

  15. Dave55


    Yep – Vic is much better placed than us folk north of the border in that regard. SA and the cooper basin is probably pretty good as well but it’s a bloody long way to pump the CO2.

  16. JM

    “… they’d have to be completely moronic to think that carbon regulation isn’t coming. …”

    “I thought coal miners were the stupidest men I’d ever met, until I met the coal mine owners” Winston Churchill.

    Appears to be an industry tradition (or maybe a qualification for the job).

  17. Carol Overland

    Clean coal killed clean coal — it’s just not supportable and died of its own weight. Read the decision of the Minnesota ALJs in evaluating Excelsior Energy’s coal gasification Mesaba Project: http://legalectric.org/weblog/1579/
    In considering an RFP between IGCC, gas and wind, the Delaware PSC rejected coal gasification and chose wind with gas backup! Read the staff report: http://legalectric.org/weblog/2314/ (scroll down for PSC order and PSC Staff Review – the Staff Review is well worth the time to read).

    Carol A. Overland
    Attorney for mncoalgasplant.com, intervenor against Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project

  18. Robert Merkel

    Carol: thanks for the comment, I’ll have a look at the links. That said, IGCC without sequestration is not “clean coal” by any sensible definition (though it may be by the industry’s definition) anyway.

    I’ll also just add my usual rider about the environmental and economic costs of backing up wind power with gas, something a lot of environmentalists just handwave away.

  19. Ed

    From an armchair / first principles perspective, I have always assumed utilities limit themselves to developed and deploy-able technologies – not R&D. None of the utilities I’ve ever worked for had an R&D division.

    I also assumed they would react to potential carbon pricing by ceasing to propose / build new fossil (particularly coal) stations and, in parallel, lobby hard to delay any regulations that could force the uncompensated, early retirement of existing capital / facilities.

    Isn’t this what we are seeing?

  20. Peterc

    Robert, there isn’t any sensible definition for “clean coal”. It is a dirty lie.

  21. Dave55


    I suspect that you are right in regards to the utilities providers. Here in Aus, the biggest R&D push for CCS is actually from the coal producers who know that without CCS their product (and massive reserves of it) are all but useless. The Governments relying on the jobs and royalties from coal mining have been co-opted into the research effort (and subsidising coal further …).

  22. Mike Keller

    There is a cleaner way to use coal – see http://www.hybridpwr.com

  23. Dave55


    there isn’t any sensible definition for “clean coal”. It is a dirty lie.

    Don’t worry – the pollies (and everyone else) have finally realised this and are moving towards “low emission coal” and other more sensible phrases. The phrase ‘clean coal’ as used in “Ultra Clean Coal” refers to low ash coal and is different.

    The use of Coal Water Slurries using Ultra Clean Coal is starting to look viable. Of course this will also require CCS to operate long term but the efficiencies they are getting (and predicting) from CWS are impressive and comparable and even better than gas turbine using natural gas.

  24. Roger Jones


    I agree with your summary of why CCS is important to Australian coal producers and on the availability of storage sites. How would landowners feel about CO2 pipelines running to Western NSW from the east coast?

    Interestingly enough, if there is an infrastructure corridor linking geothermal production to the east and south, that might help keep costs down (not endorsing, just saying).

    However, the urgent need to reach overshoot in radiative forcing in the atmosphere (read GHG concentrations) suggest that the strategy of using coal with marginal improvements in efficiency until its emissions are ready to be buried, is not on. It’s 3rd, 4th or 5th order for Australia and should have to compete on price, risk and social and environmental benefit if/when commercial feasibility is established.

    I’m not willing to play the game of “good” and “bad” technology at this stage because of how urgently we need effective technology – although I think we should be throwing a lot more resources understanding how technological and social drivers of change interact. All technology has the potential for perverse outcomes that seem to be ignored by the proponents, so better risk management by independent bodies is also required.

  25. Robert Merkel

    Ed, I take your point about utilities not doing R&D.

    That said, I can see utilities interested in participating in R&D to retrofit their existing plant to reduce CO2 emissions, because it might allow them to avoid having to shut down multi-billion dollar assets early. But that’s not what FuureGen was about.

    But there are two groups of companies who have a very direct interest in funding low-emission coal technologies – the companies that build coal-fired power plants, and coal miners.

    In the case of the plant builders, many of them aren’t tied to coal – they’re in the nuclear, gas, and in some cases the renewables business as well, so they might take the view that coal will be uncompetitive with their alternatives and prefer to save their cash.

    If you’re a coal miner, however, if you can no longer sell coal because your customers can’t afford to burn it, there’s your company down the drain.

    The lack of understanding of this very simple point amongst Australia’s coal industry continues to flabbergast me.

  26. Tim Macknay

    Dave55, I’m not sure what your source is for the view that the US has smaller or inferior coal reserves to ours. All the literature I’ve read (World Coal Institute, BP Statistical Survey of Energy, etc) states that the US has around 3 times our reserves and approximately the same mix of high and low quality reserves.

    If they have a lesser incentive to pursue CCS, a more likely explanation is that coal makes up a much smaller proportion of their export revenue, and a smaller (although still significant) proportion of their energy mix.

  27. HuggyBunny

    The concept of a DC grid in Europe is being seriously considered (see this weeks New Scientist for a rather technologically dumb account).
    It occurs to me that an East West DC link should be seriously considered for OZ. The benefits of the different time zones both from a solar and wind Annual Capacity Factor perspective and load spreading perspective should be obvious even to the tiny brains of the nuclear pimps. I see solar thermal plants and wind farms from Perth to Portland. Then all the market based morons can play markets all they want on the system and the coal merchants can go sink into their richly deserved oblivion. Only problem really is that the Crow Eaters might get uppity and the Greens will bleat about some aspect of it, as a sop I would suggest under-grounding it. Then they will not even notice. Now lets see, where could we go to extend this network in an East West direction?

  28. Lefty E

    I say we just pick a date 5 years hence upon which 50% of all coal-fired power stations will be shutdown. Turned off. Globally.

    I reckon we’d make it. That would spur some action. Make necessity the tyrannical mother of invention.

  29. Moz

    “an East West DC link should be seriously considered for OZ. The benefits of the different time zones both from a solar and wind”

    It’s a bloody long way to ship electricity for a country that doesn’t even have a proper N-S grid on the east cost yet. I suggest developing some local experience first, say with a couple of short links like Tassie-Melbourne and Brisvegas to Newcastle (or from new a solar/geo plant in Broken Hill to Sydney). That would give us some ideas about underground/undersea cables compared to retrofitting HVAC pylon systems to take DC.

    At a guess one issue across the Nullarbor would be thermal cycling, and that might make above ground cables somewhat more expensive than usual (but still an order of magnitude cheaper than buried ones. Surface cables might be one option – just run them alongside the railway line and let Darwin teach the curious. Not sure if anyone actually uses surface cables though.

  30. hannah's dad

    Tangent, red herring, derail whatever.
    Prompted by this from huggy “….would suggest under-grounding it.”

    Yonks ago Telstra or whatever they were called at that time were digging trenches and laying fibre optic cable from west oz to the east.
    Then they found they had a problem.
    The little buggers were digging holes [wombats like digging holes] under the cable which then collapsed and broke aided by some judicious chewing.
    So the experts got to work figuring out how to overcome the problem.
    Shoot the little grey diggers? Too hard, too expensive, unlikely to succeed.
    Place the cables deeper, out of wombat reach? Grossly expensive.
    Sheath the cable in wombat proof stuff? Too expensive and when tried with various substances had near zero effect.

    The answer?
    Route the cable north and then east out of wombat territory so as to escape their undesirable attentions.
    Cheapest method available.

  31. HuggyBunny

    Moz we already have a dc undersea link to Tassie. There has been a dc link between the North and south Islands of New Zealand since forever, it was recently upgraded to over 1 GW.
    Dc links used in south America the US and Europe.

    The dc link has significant advantages over AC transmission not the least being that there is no need to provide a reactive component and the basic maths are good – also there is no requirement for synchronisation the converters do this. In fact in South America some-where there is adc link that connects sensible british 50Hz to Gringo 60 Hz.
    Losses in modern converters (taken overall at both ends) are <2%. Expect <1% soon. Since the losses in an AC transmission are of the order 10% losses are not a problem.
    In fact undersea or underground is the best way to implement the system as it avoids exposure to salt spray etc on the insulators. The voltage stress in dc is less and there are no dv/dt issues.
    A bipolar dc transmission system can carry many GW – no real limit. Ac transmission has definite power transmission limits. I doubt if you would want to retrofit existing 3 phase systems but I have not looked at this.
    An East West link in Australia would provide 2.6 hours of time shifting (solar time) if built from Exmouth to Brisbane and traverse some of the best solar regions in the world – a short link south would bring in good wind regions. I think the wind regime on the West coast is goodish – of course there is a huge tidal energy resource in the North West – watch the Greens go insane about that.

  32. Robert Merkel

    Huggy: Fine. But here’s the deal – only those of superior intelligence like yourself pay for it, seeing you’re the one insisting the infrastructure be built for your technology of choice.

  33. Robert Merkel

    And that goes double for tidal power from the northwest.

    The fact that Wilson Tuckey is the chief political cheerleader for the idea should tell you something.

  34. Moz

    Estuary tidal is primarily a way to kill baby fish. Which is fine if you hate fish. But not so good if you rely on them. As far as power generation goes it’s pretty mediocre bang for buck.

    HVDC has its place, I studied the stuff back when I was at school. Didn’t know there was a Tassie link though. It’s definitely useful as a way to generate power where it’s cheap and use it a long way away. Also good for decoupling grid segments (ie, stabilising grids that are under stress). But until we have power generation in funny places, no real justification for building it (“it’s cool” does not count). Which is why I’d wait until one of the multi-GW solar/geo systems is in the pipeline.

  35. Ed

    Dave & Robert,

    I agree, motivation should come from industries involved in the supply of coal. But, again, they are even further removed from the deployment of generation technology than the utilities. It is just not something they have done in the past. I see them as a totally reactive lot who will not budge until forced to do so (with hands out for compensation due to ‘imposed’ government regulations).

    Their actions to date seem very short-sighted with little if any regard for emissions issues. Apparently they see better returns from stoking the resistance to other technologies locally, and lobbying hard against change at the various levels of government. Not the most noble path to take, but as long as the profit projections point in that direction – that’s where they will go. With regard to CCS, my hopes are not with the market right now.

    One bright exception to my cynicism is Vattenfall’s demonstration plant in Germany. The Scandinavians have a knack for morality, long term thinking and ethics over greed.

  36. philip travers

    How much volumetric area does the present emissions amount to as either a solid object or,if the gas is present how does it get to be so expensive to transport CO2 given that ,that gas can be found even for homes in little cannister type design! And why hasn’t the use of algae converted to fuel breed in carbon dioxide even got a real mention in Australia!And, there are other multiple approaches..never aired.Never discussed. I know the coal companies are bloody lazy,and coal fired stations seem ugly,but surely getting into these alternative ideas will make more people realise how delinquent this all is.And using carbon dioxide converted to production in some way must be common sense.

  37. Robert Merkel

    Philip, it’s not that CO2 is expensive to transport per tonne, it’s just the quantities we’re talking about are huge.

    Think of it like this. One of those little canisters holds 16 grams of CO2. At a rough estimate, the electricity you use per day results in enough CO2 to fill 1,000 of those little canisters. Or, equivalently, a BBQ gas bottle of the standard size filled with CO2 (not that they hold CO2 when you buy them, obviously, but you could theoretically fill one with it), every single day.

    Now imagine that, every day, you have to transport one of those 500 kilometres just to dump your CO2.

    Obviously, transporting something in a pipeline is a lot cheaper than putting it in canisters and throwing it on a truck, but that gives you some indication of the logistical challenge if local disposal is not practical.

    Algae has been tried on a small scale here. It turns out that it’s not nearly as easy as its boosters have claimed.

    Tim: The USA (not to mention India and China) has enormous domestic coal reserves. Their annual production dwarfs ours. What makes us unique is that we export most of what we mine.

    That said, I’m not sure anybody really knows just how big Australia’s coal reserves are. Given the known reserves are so big compared to production, why would you bother going looking for more?

  38. HuggyBunny

    Robert, You want expensive infrastructure try nuclear. Special universities and Chairs etc, thugs to protect the reactors, waste repositories, that have billions spent on them so far for totally zero results, remediation and de-commissioning of old reactors, costs of remediation of mine sites and tailings dams oh yea infrastructure. Oh I forgot, your nuke arrives on the back of a truck , it is painted a pale shade of green and looks very pretty sitting by the entrance to your gated community.
    Now make a list of every failed academic, bent businessman, professional urger and political crony and you will find that the list is much the same as the list of the people who pimp for nuclear power.
    For the record I too have grave reservations about tidal power.
    I do however think that the time has come to abandon parochialism and look to some largish solutions.
    An East West dc link of at least 20 GW that collects wind and solar energy and time smears it across the continent would have dramatic consequences for the viability of solar and wind energy also for the flattening of demand and for a major upgrade of our transmission capacity. It equally makes (even more) sense in the US. The point is that a dc link is qualitatively and quantitatively superior to AC transmission over large distances plus it is happy underground.


  39. Matt Dernoga

    Interesting discussion. I had a similar post about this debacle on my site


  40. Dave55

    Tim Macknay

    You’re right, I don’t know where I got that idea that we had more coal reserves than the US. I was wrong to suggest that. Reserves according to Wiki (which is as good as any other source on this):
    I suspect that Australian reserves are actually quite a bit higher than this though based on exploration activity in the past 2 years, paticularly in the Gunnedah Basin and north into Qld.

    Here in Aus, the coal companies are talking about CCS but apart from introducing a levy to fund some research, I don’t see a lot of actual action from them; all the work seems to be pushed by Government.

  41. pablo

    Dave55 @40. I recall attending what was called a ‘Coal Information Day’ in Singleton NSW in 2005. They were always held on a Friday and would wind up just after lunch so that all the suits attending could hit the piss. But to the point…I was reading a brochure from X-Strata one of the largest coal operators in the Hunter which proudly stated that in that financial year 2004-5 the company had spent $250 000 on CCS research. It is more now with Government pushing but gives a fair indication of the industry enthusiasm at a time when they must have known what was coming.

  42. Peterc

    Maybe the CPRS, if it gets legislated, will kill Clean (dirty) Coal. It will lock in protection for the worst polluters and fossil fuel businesses, therefore no need for the CC subterfuge and PR any more.

    Unless of course the coal industry still gets some more handy R&D money ($1b and counting) from the taxpayer via the government for it.

  43. HuggyBunny

    It appears that”clean coal” is well underway in Qld. The system where they liquify air distill off the nitrogen and get pure oxygen, then burn the coal in a mostly pure oxygen atmosphere is now well advanced at a trial level. The advantage of this system is that the volume of gas id reduced by 70% as Nitrogen has no role to play in energy generation. http://www.dme.qld.gov.au/zone_files/Sustainable/cleancoal_6pweb.pdf
    Of course they then need o find some-where to put the CO2. I would like to see more attention to Coal Seam Methane (CSM).

  44. danny

    Huggy: I dunno about real clean coal, but Clean Coal(TM) glossy brochures, such as you link to, certialy are well underway in qld, which is in fact the glossy brochure capital of the world. The thing about glossy brochures is , well, they gloss over things. Like the huge amounts of toxic water co-produced in tapping the ch4, and typically left to evaporate in the tailings dams, like is pretty much ubiquitous in mining. Trouble is, before the evaporation bit gets finished, ( which it never is, cos they just keep topping it up with more filth, ) the girtbysea climate has a nasty habit of going all dorothea on us, the droughts turning into floods. Thus we have the obscene spectacle of the recent floods of northern qld breaking the tailings dams banks in just about every mine in the state, and the ensuing flood serving to distribute the toxic heavy metals across the wide brown land, into the food chains, including, human water supplies, as the residents of capricornia will tell you. So I don’t recko we need more masses of toxic water we have to deal with.
    I love this idea of big solar, big dc: that’s what we need glossy brochures about. as part of the the financial engineering that will make it possible. Prospectus’s, that sort of thing: how we can put our super into financing utility scale green power companies? They can be an order more efficient in bang-per-resource, material and financial, terms than the silly wasteful (sub-1000 solar hours per year) boutique feel-good subsidised sub-efficient suburban photovoltaic program.
    That costs $10k per kilowatt of theoretical capacity, and 2/3 of that comes from the gov’t. And we don’t make it here anymore.
    5 megawatts (electrical capacity) of concentrating solar, mirrors’n’steam, out in the california desert, like we got shit-loads of, can be brought on line in 7 months with 15 million dollars, ie $3k/kw, but with >1000 hrs/year throughput, so 2-3 times more efficient as sub-sub-sub-PV. 50 people in the robotized factory that make the mirrors and jigs and boilers can keep a solar power field construction workforce of 1400 going. Here.
    Wouldn’t that sort of renewables scheme be more sensible and worthy of gov’t subsidies, because it’s more efficient? At that scale it provides a target suitable for superanuation-type financial aggregation. Green Bonds, that sort of thing. Your BigSwingingDC project would suit that model too, there’s plenty of precedent, it’s called infrastructure. We don’t seem to have any problem letting goverments close streets to force drivers into private equity tunnels just so they turn a buck, and attract institutinoal funds managers investment, what’s wrong with weighting things in the favour of green business for a change?

  45. Bob

    You don’t have to be into rocket science to work out clean coal means less profit.
    I worked for a Exxon controlled coal mine in Australia who’s coal was very high in sulphur = Acid rain !
    Exxon looked at clean coal and that’s all they did look. Money talk’s bullshit walks,

  46. HuggyBunny

    Dannny we are basically in heated agreement here. Concentrating solar becomes viable with some thermal storage and time shifting. It’s all about really wanting – needing – to do something real.
    We should forget about boutique nukes that are 30 years away (always will be) and get on with stuff that works.

  47. Huggybunny

    Caught part of an intersting interview by Frantic Fran this morning with some bloke who was basically saying that the whole industry war against emissiobs tyrading was a confection. Facinating, unfortunately I came in halfway through and missed the end. It seems that the ETS wil consist of Industry getting free licences and then paying some coupon clipper in PNG to pretend that they will not chop down some trees that they were never going to chop down any-way unles some Malaysian timber company comes in and pays a bit more. Nothing willl be done within Australia at all.

  48. David Irving (no relation)

    Yeah, I herd that too, Huggy. The bloke’s an ex Lib insider (used to advise Robert Hill when he was faux environment minister, among other things). If you’ve ever read his book exposing the Greenhouse Mafia, you’d know why he’s ex.

  49. Robert Merkel

    Huggybunny: It’s Guy Pearse. As well as the book, he’s the author of the latest Quarterly Essay, which I’m about three-quarters of the way through. Well worth a read, even if I’m not sure I agree with all of his conclusions.

  50. Huggybunny

    Thanks Robert and David.
    I will read his stuff with interest.
    I think Bernard Keane in today’s Crikey is pretty well correct in his analysis of the chances the ETS will get up – zero. The really sad thing is that the technology and systems to reduce CO2 emissions are not exactly difficult or even all that costly.
    Copenhagen is shaping up to be a fizz too.