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Governors: Include coal in energy debate

Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Associated Press
Governors pushing alternative energy development are not shying from coal, a major culprit in global warming but also a homegrown energy source and an economic lifeline for many states.

Leaders of coal-rich states say clean-coal technology is a must. Governors from states without coal want more evidence the technology works.

… Energy tops the agenda at the governors’ annual winter meeting. The group’s new clean energy initiative seeks to promote renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

…Proponents say all energy sources have their problems. The key, says Gov. Brian Schweitzer, D-Mont., is a national energy policy with many options and sources.

That is important because electricity demand will increase in the future. For instance, Schweitzer predicted that 10 years from now a significant number of cars will be plug-in hybrid vehicles, which will require more power plants, not fewer.

Coal “has a CO2 problem, wind has a reliability problem, solar has a price problem, nukes have a price and radiation problem,” Schweitzer said. “So all of those technologies have opportunities. but they all have problems – coal’s no different.”
(23 February 2008)
Article is more of a press release than critical reporting. We need some assessment as to whether the claims for coal are viable; it’s no longer enough just to transcribe statements from interested parties. -BA

Alarm over new oil-from-coal plans

David Adam, Guardian
A Chinese energy company is poised to open a chemical plant to make liquid fuels for cars and aircraft from coal, a move that has alarmed environmental campaigners who say it will increase carbon emissions and worsen global warming.

The plant, in Inner Mongolia, will use technology developed by Germany during the second world war to convert coal directly into synthetic diesel, dubbed “Nazi fuel”. China says the process will help break its booming economy’s reliance on foreign oil, and that it will build more such plants.

The US and India are also investing heavily in the technology, which is being heavily promoted by coal companies across the world as a cost-effective solution to soaring oil prices and concerns about energy security.

The Chinese facility, operated by Shenhua Corporation, will be the first of its type in the world. Shenhua would not say when it expects the plant to open, but industry experts said it would be within weeks. Last month, company officials said construction work was 99.5% complete.

Three similar plants were built in South Africa to beat the apartheid-era oil sanctions, and still produce almost a third of South Africa’s energy needs.
(20 February 2008)
Comment from David Roberts at Gristmill: China kicks off the coal-to-liquids rush: Quick, change more lightbulbs!.

Industry and Policy Experts Discuss Clean Coal Technology

Energy Policy TV
The Western Business Roundtable holds a congressional briefing in which industry and
policy experts discuss new clean coal technology and advances in carbon sequestration.
(5 December 2007)

Uranium and the Nuclear Renaissance

David Stellfox, Platts Insight – Nuclear Energy.
A global nuclear construction boom is likely to keep the pressure on already tight uranium supplies. The market is responding with new mine projects, higher commodity prices, and new financial products, but will the supply meet the demand?

AS THE NUCLEAR POWER RENAISSANCE continues to build steam, the raw material needed to fuel that renaissance-uranium-became a darling of the mining and financial communities in 2007 and-like coal, oil, and gas-the subject of intense global exploration and acquisition activity.

The spot price of uranium skyrocketed to historic highs in 2007, capping a three-year upward trend and reaching $135 per pound in summer, as projected demand rose against limited supply. By autumn, it was back to the mid-$70s/lb but by year’s end, up again to the low $90s-still historically high.

…While world uranium resources are generally considered to be more than adequate to meet foreseeable needs, ongoing production and supply constraints, and questions about whether new production can be timed to meet demand growth, mean the market is likely to remain tight for some years to come.

… After the 1986 accident at the Soviet nuclear unit at Chernobyl, many European countries began officially or unofficially pursuing nuclear phase-out. But with increasing global warming concerns and a newly aggressive EU energy policy, many countries are reconsidering.

… Along with predicted global shortages in manufacturing capacity for reactor components, technically skilled labor and management expertise, uranium too could become a limiting factor for the global nuclear renaissance.
(February 2008 issue)