photo credit : jo
CCS : Dropping The Fig Leaf
by Jo Abbess
1st February 2008
In the beginning was a grand engineering dream. We could carry on burning coal if we could safely and cheaply pump the waste gas into a deep dark hole in the ground, never to return.
Big Energy companies paid lots of researchers to tell them it could be done, and done cost-effectively. Governments overcame their suspicions of manipulation. Engineers overcame their incredulity at such a stupid idea.
Scientific magazines carried graphs, tables and artist-imagined mock-ups of how Carbon Capture and Storage would look and cost. Newspapers, ever searching for an optimistic story about technology, told us that CCS was a wonderful future.
Peer-reviewed research papers were published. Books on Climate Change and Energy policy looked favourably on the nascent technology.
Applications for new coal-fired power plants were made in the United Kingdom, plants that would be "capture ready", ready for the new technology (although it was not already with us).
Assurances were made that, even though coal is the most dirty Fossil Fuel to burn, CCS would deal with that, so there was no need to worry.
No need to invest in Renewable Energy technologies, just burn coal with added CCS to mop up the mess.
However, we now know that the Future is Naked Coal, without filters.
There is not, and possibly never has been, an actual plan to use CCS at new coal power stations. After all, it's quite expensive and untested.
It is reported in today's Guardian Newspaper that the Big Energy firm E.On are demanding that they can build a new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth without any promise to use CCS :-
""[Eon is] reluctant to specifically reference carbon capture and storage as a consideration without legislation. The secretary of state has no right to withhold approval for a conventional plant," Land wrote to Mohamed."
The fig leaf is well and truly off, not E.On.
They cannot continue to claim that they're doing "Clean Coal", as they're not prepared to clean up their coal.
CCS was just a ruse, a red herring, a side alley packed with empty boxes to stop the cop car getting through.
Now, Al Gore has been reported as saying something like he doesn't understand why groups of thousands and thousands of young people are not chaining themselves to coal power plants in protest at the continued use of this dirty fuel.
It is responsible for half of the electricity of the United States, apparently, so it's a good target for direct action on Climate Change.
Trouble is, most people are just not interested in travelling to power plants and locking on to the tarmac with bolts and braces.
You can expect a certain number of hardcore greenies, like George Monbiot, to do it, but most of us others would rather stay at home/work/club.
Here's an idea though : refuse to have anything to do with E.On.
As an organisation they are acting in a way that could get a person labelled cynical and hypocritical. They are building wind turbines, but they are also wanting Fossil Fuelled power from Kent.
E.On are sponsoring, of all things, a Climate Change Conference at Bournemouth University on 2nd April 2008, hosted by the Poole and Bournemouth local governments. Meanwhile they expect approval on their Kent Coal enterprise in May.
Zero Carbon Britain http://www.zerocarbonbritain.com have been asked if they want to have a stand at the conference exhibition. Err, maybe not.
I'm thinking I might go to the conference. I'm thinking of making myself a tee-shirt that says in large black letters "E.Off !"
If you feel passionately that you need to do something, change your electricity account, stop using power, write letters, do whatever you can reasonably do to make E.On know they're on the wrong seat on the wrong train, going to the wrong destination.
Or maybe demand that your Government change the rules and regulations to bar new coal burning. After all, there are European laws about emissions targets, and targets for Renewable Energy...
E.Off to the Coal Salers !
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