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King Coal not interested in going green « Previous | |Next »
February 16, 2012

Recall that in 2008, Kevin Rudd, the Australian Prime Minister created a new body to lead the way: the Global CCS Institute. Its brief was to get the industry moving by assisting projects and bridging knowledge gaps. It was cashed up, with $100 million a year in federal seed funding.

The dream was "clean coal"; even though it is widely known that the carbon capture and storage technology would not be commercially viable for at least another two decades. Judging from this report the reality of King Coal going green is that almost every major carbon capture and storage project around the world that has been started in the last few years has either been delayed, stopped or cancelled outright.

CoalslagZeehan.jpg Gary Sauer-Thompson, coal slagheap, Zeehan, Tasmania, 2011

Moreover, it would appear that the coal industry believes it has no obligation to increase its contribution to funding the development of the only technology that it says would appear capable of guaranteeing its future.The coal industry despite its near $1 trillion of annual global revenues, chooses to invest less than one tenth of one per cent in the technology that could best secure the place of coal in a low-carbon economy.

King coal is extending its kingdom. Thanks to coal, the world’s economy is becoming more carbon intensive because coal remains the world’s cheapest fuel for electricity generation and industrial heat and power.

Proponents say driving up the cost of coal generation will push utilities to seek out cleaner alternatives. It should stimulate a boom in construction of gas-fired plants, given the huge new supplies of shale gas unlocked by the combination of deep horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Hence the use of a market mechanism – the emissions trading scheme – to curtail emissions-intensive industrial developments.

“Clean coal” is a clever piece of sophistry by Big Coal. It doesn't look likely that the coal industry will scrap its smaller and older plants.They are more interested in building new coal-fuelled power plant for the Latrobe Valley. Coal mines are expanding --eg.,the proposed Wandoan coal mine in the Queensland, the coal state) principally to service the export market in India and China. So the coal rush rolls on, with no one really challenging the legitimacy of coalmining in the face of climate change.

The corporate spin is that coal is meeting a demand that continues to expand, regardless of black lungs, methane leaks, global warming, and the growth of renewables and that humankind will benefit more from cheap and abundant energy. Coal is the backbone of reliable, low-cost power.

However, the health and environmental externalities of coal combustion are not considered. These are some of the hidden costs of coal.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:43 PM | | Comments (4)


Yes they are just seat polishers like the Fuel Commision.

It is unrealistic to think that the mining industry cares. They are interested in wealth and whatever they do outside of their main objective is only tokenism.

They did promise 'clean coal' big time. The politicians believed them. Or wanted to.

The Reserve bank of Australia talks in terms of a once-in-a-century investment boom in the resources industry. They say that over the past year, business investment has risen by around 20 per cent and there is more to come.