A new MIT report suggests a better way to use coal in power-stations and potentially cut CO2 emissions by 50%. The process involves gasifying coal and producing electricity in one process at the same site. The coal only has to be heated once, and the electricity comes from a fuel cell, not a fire — it’s a chemical reaction across a membrane. The output is potentially much more efficient, and makes no ash. The researchers argue we could get twice as much electricity for each ton of coal burned. Currently coal fired power pulls out 30% of the chemical energy in coal, but coupling these two processes might increase it to 55-60%.
This report is based on simulations, but the separate processes are already well developed and running. The next step would be a fully functioning pilot plant to put the two together and test the idea. If there was the political will it could be done in a few years. There probably won’t be.
The Greens of course will hate the idea because the Evil-Factor of coal is near 100%.
In the eco-collectivist-world, cutting “carbon” is important, but apparently not as important as propping up a dependent lobby group [...]
It’s a bit costly trying to control the weather:
“Germany has been paying over $26 billion per year for electricity that has a wholesale market value of just $5 billion (see here).”
That’s $21 billion that could have been spent on health or education that was used instead to feed the Green Machine.
A few handy facts to memorize. The cost of electricity per kilowatt-hour:
Denmark, 42c; Germany 40c, and the USA, 12.5c. ( — Forbes)
Wind and solar power supplies 28% of electricity in Germany (is it really that high?) This is what Australia is aiming for?
Graph from Forbes (link below)
Europe is a “green energy” basket case. Washington Post
“Germany’s Energy Poverty: How Electricity Became a Luxury Good.” — Der Spiegel
Europe’s Energy and Electricity Policies are a Bad Model, Jude Clement, Forbes
TonyfromOz explained how fatal the numbers on “carbon capture” are. (It’s like the GFC of engineering). The new coal plants cost 60% more to build and waste something like 40% of the entire energy they generate to “catch” a beneficial fertilizer and and stuff it in a small hot hole underground.
It’s hard being first, but hey, the plant is only 2 years behind and $4.4 billion over budget. Part of the costs are due to delays because of wet weather. (Apparently the climate models did not see that coming…)
Obama has set aside $6 billion since 2009 for lab research and “commercial deployment” of clean coal. In response to the abject failure he’s doing what most people do when spending other people’s money — “Despite these troubles, the White House says it will continue to support clean coal.”
News last week:
America’s First Clean Coal Plant Put Mississippi Power ‘on the Brink of Bankruptcy’
[Link may not work, try "cached copy".]
Last week, state regulators approved an emergency rate increase for Mississippi Power in order to keep the company afloat as it completes the increasingly-expensive Kemper plant. Mississippi Power customers will [...]
In the latest news about wind-generators, The Australian reports that a new Australian study estimates we wasted $70m on RET* certificates last year because of losses the wind turbines put on the rest of the grid. About a fifth of the CO2 supposedly cut by wind-farms was emitted by the rest of the grid as it ramped up and down trying to cope with the erratic supply from the on-and-off whirly-gigs.
If we double our wind-farms the losses are proportionally even greater (every extra wind farm is even more useless than the one before). With twice as many, all of the wind towers would only be 70% effective. But this is all a wild fantasy overestimate, since the point of wind towers is not to reduce CO2, but to reduce global temperatures, stop storms, and hold back the tides. The 3.5% reduction in total Australian electricity emissions changed global temperatures by 0.00C, hence RET on wind is 100.00% useless, accurate to two decimal places. The Clean Energy Council said they had no answer at all, and wouldn’t talk about it, except to say that Australians like “renewables”.
In other news in from the UK, the new majority conservative government says [...]
When the Germans mess something up, they do it properly
Germany — is aiming for a 40% cut in carbon by 2020, and have “led the way” with solar and wind power. Electricity bills are now twice the price of those in North America, and some 800,000 poor people had their power cut off because they can’t pay their bills. Despite the high prices, gas power has become uneconomic, even though it is one the best methods for dealing with the erratic energy delivered from wind and solar. Nuclear can’t save them, they will have none after 2022 when the last reactor turns off.
The pain is pointless. For all the money spent, they aren’t saving much CO2, and aren’t changing the weather. They end up importing many of the goods which need energy, so the emissions occur in other countries without emissions controls. The German manufacturing sector can’t compete and struggles by on subsidies. Consumers pay more for goods or pay more through tax for the subsidies. Meanwhile, in the EU politicians seem to have realized that biofuels won’t work, but they don’t have the courage to kill them off and face the backlash — instead they fund it just [...]
While some global whiners are predicting death, disease and reckless fish, an ominous array of other forces are gathering. The time of plenty, peace and abundance could be coming to an end. I’ve finally had a chance to look at David Archibald’s hot new book, and it’s a book that needs to be discussed. It’s the debate we ought to be having. (I’ll be referring to it again on this blog).
In the West we have rarely had it so good: since World War II things have been relatively peaceful; the sun reached a once-in-8000-year global maximum, keeping us warm; the big easy oil fields were tapped, gifting us the cheapest energy in human history; and the most obvious gains in agriculture meant food supply increased even faster than populations grew. David Archibald paints a provocative argument of a world where a cooling sun means grain supply can’t keep pace with demand, oil production starts to slide and forces of unrest in the mid East collapse to chaos while those in the far East rise ascendant.
David Archibald writes:
Who are those four horsemen? A severe, solar-driven cooling is one. Over the next twenty to thirty years, we are [...]
How is this for a scary thought?
Tim Flannery says renewables will run the economy:
“What we can now see is the emerging inevitability that renewables are going to be running the economy…”
And I say: Prepare for economic armageddon. Picture an Australia where we all have jobs — jobs digging holes, mucking out the stables, and chopping those last few remaining trees down. We may lead the world installing chinese-made solar panels, but they won’t help us make anything that anyone else wants to buy. Anton gives us some numbers no one seems to have mentioned to Tim. Like, it takes 1,000 new wind towers to kinda equal one coal plant. – Jo
Guest Post: Anton Lang
Get ready — this is how much the 25 most recent, powerful, high-tech wind plants generate. Not the red line — that’s how much electricity we used. Look at the expanse under the blue line — every bit of that (“bit” being the word) is all thanks to those brand spanking new wind turbines.
Courtesy of the National Electricity Market. (NEM)
The red line at the top shows total electricity demand for NSW, Vic, Qld, SA, and Tasmania [...]
When activists protest about “fossil fuel” subsidies, it is a case of extreme-wordsmithing. Like chinese-whispers, the truth gets turned 180 degrees. It takes a string of half truths stacked in a series to come up with something which is so completely counter to reality it is meaningless.
The reality is that governments around the world are paying billions each year to prop up an industry that is inefficient, uncompetitive and unproductive. It’s money that is desperately needed in health or in real medical and scientific research.
“More than US$70 billion of support is provided by governments to renewable energy production and consumption worldwide.”
[IEA (The International Energy Agency, which promotes "green energy" in it's header)]
That’s an annual figure. And the plan seems to be even more subsidies. (I thought the plan was to make renewables competitive?)
Source: IEA Key Graphs…
Source: IEA Key Graphs
Could it be $200 billion?
This UN group has an even higher number. I don’t know exactly how they define “green stimulus” spending, perhaps it was a one-off:
“Green government procurement will also be essential in the early stages of a transition to a green economy. In 2009, global green stimulus [...]
In June this year the UNEP report announced that Global Renewable Energy investment reached $257 Billion in 2011. It’s so large it rivals the $302 billion invested in fossil fuel power. But how much electricity do we get for all that money? When the details are pulled from the fog, a quarter of a trillion dollars appears to produce only about 3% of all our global electricity, and even less of our global energy. All that money, so few gigawatts.
The 2012 UNEP report “Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment” compares the
“…despite an increasingly tough competitive landscape for manufacturers, total investment in renewable power and fuels last year increased by 17% to a record $257 billion, a six-fold increase on the 2004 figure and 94% higher than the total in 2007, the year before the world financial crisis.”
Renewables growth has slowed somewhat:
“Although last year’s 17% increase was significantly smaller than the 37% growth recorded in 2010, it was achieved at a time of rapidly falling prices for renewable energy equipment and severe pressure on fiscal budgets in the developed world.”
The last couple of quarters have not been good for [...]
I’m away, so this is a good time for Guest posts. Here Tony explains that we need lots of electricity even while we sleep. I didn’t realize our electricity needs were so high at night. The lowest power use each day is still as much as 60% of the peak. That’s the base load at 3am, and solar panels and wind farms just can’t provide it. We can burn the odd $500 billion building hundreds of solar plants, but even then, we would have to go “medieval” for about 8 hours each night. Candles anyone? — Jo
Guest post by Anton Lang
AUSTRALIAN POWER CONSUMPTION LOAD CURVES
There’s a message in these two diagrams that underlies every decision about national energy.
Summer power curve – Time of Day versus power consumption (MW)
These two diagrams are the most misunderstood images in the whole debate — the Load Curves for actual power consumption. These two shown here are for the whole of eastern Australia (including Tasmania and South Australia).
The top diagram shows typical consumption for a day in mid summer (Monday 30th January 2012) and the second is for a typical mid winter day (Friday 22nd July [...]
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