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U.K. Says No New Coal Plants Without Carbon Capture

Paul Dobson, Bloomberg
The U.K. will only allow new coal- fired power plants to be built if they capture carbon-dioxide emissions for underground sequestration, said Ed Miliband, the minister responsible for energy and climate change.

All new coal plants will need to demonstrate carbon capture and storage on at least 400 megawatts of their output, according to government proposals announced today. The state is planning funding so that as many as four new coal-fueled plants are built by 2020, Miliband told reporters in London.
(23 April 2009)
Related from the Guardian: UK government overturns its coal policy in search of a low-carbon future.

Monbiot: Miliband’s coal decision is cynical and meaningless

George Monbiot, Guardian
If coal plants go ahead on the condition that their emissions will one day be abated through carbon capture and storage technology, then emissions are a certainty

It’s simple: there should be no new coal burning without 100% carbon capture and storage (CCS) to bury carbon dioxide emissions underground where they cannot influence the climate.

This is a very different matter from Ed Miliband’s proposal in the House of Commons today that energy companies must “demonstrate CCS on a substantial proportion of any new coal-fired power station.” The figures he has just proposed (400MW of gross capacity) suggest that only around one-quarter to one-fifth of total emissions from a new plant will be captured.

These partly abated coal plants, in other words, would still be much worse than unabated gas plants.

Miliband went on to insist that “when the technology is proven [we will make a] commitment that CCS will be fitted on the entire plant.”

So the big “if” about CCS has magically been turned into a “when”.

If Miliband is sure that full-scale CCS is viable, two questions arise:
(23 April 2009)

A ‘Propaganda War’ Over ‘Clean Coal’

Anne C. Mulkern, Greenwire via New York Times
Ads displayed at Washington subway stops and airing on national television call “clean coal” a myth. Tell that to President Obama, his Cabinet secretaries and members of Congress.

Five months into an advertising war on coal, the phrase “clean coal” not only endures, it has become political shorthand. Everyone — from Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar — refers to clean coal or clean coal technology. Environmentalists call the “clean coal” rhetoric dangerous, saying it creates complacency about the need to move toward true carbon-free energy. Policymakers, environmentalists say, know that coal remains one of the most polluting sources of energy.

The word war over coal is escalating. There are billions of dollars at stake, as Congress moves toward historic legislation that could decide winners and losers in the green energy economy. Already, there are signs of small victories by the coal camp.
(20 April 2009)

The ‘Clean Coal’ Lobbying Blitz

Marianne Lavelle, The Center for Public Integrity
They’ve brought coal above ground.

They’ve put the black rock on billboards in the swing states, and they’ve splashed it on full-page ads in CQ Weekly, Roll Call, Politico, and The Washington Post. They sponsored presidential debates on CNN, and their “clean coal” boosters were a fixture on the campaign trail. They’ve rolled out a series of TV spots from the firm that promised that what happens in Vegas will stay in Vegas.

As Butch Cassidy might say, “Who are those guys?”

They’re the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a collection of 48 mining, rail, manufacturing, and power-generating companies with an annual budget of more than $45 million — almost three times larger than the coal industry’s old lobbying and public relations groups combined. ACCCE (pronounced “Ace”) is just celebrating its first birthday, but it has already become a juggernaut shaping the terms of the climate change debate on Capitol Hill — even while weathering a high-profile assault by critics who accuse it of peddling hot air.

ACCCE’s considerable impact will be on display this week at House Energy and Commerce Committee hearings on a new draft climate bill penned by panel chairman Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat. Just a year ago, Waxman and Markey backed a moratorium on new coal-fired electricity plants. But their latest draft would allow new coal plants through 2015, if they are retrofitted to cut carbon dioxide output some 40 to 60 percent within another decade. The technology to do that does not yet exist, but not to worry: the new measure would set up a $1 billion-a-year clean coal research fund to help.

While not, of course, endorsing an approach that could fundamentally reduce U.S. coal demand, ACCCE has nevertheless declared itself “encouraged that the… draft focuses on the key role that coal plays in meeting growing U.S. electricity needs.” Greenpeace, meanwhile, has objected to “the untold billions of dollars in handouts [to the coal industry] for the false promise of carbon capture and sequestration.”
(20 April 2009)

Soros invests in carbon capture

Press release, Powerspan Corp.
Powerspan Corp. Closes Over $50 Million in New Financing
– Powerspan Corp., a clean energy technology company, announced the closing of over $50 million in new financing from a group of new investors including George Soros, Tenaska Energy, Inc., AllianceBernstein LP, and Persimmon Tree Capital LP, and returning investors NGEN Partners LLC, The Beacon Group, The Tremont Group, RockPort Capital Partners LP, Calvert, Angeleno Group, Fluor Corporation, and FirstEnergy Corp.

The investment will be used to commercially deploy Powerspan’s ECO2(R) carbon dioxide (CO2) capture technology for coal-fired electric power plants. In addition, the funding will be used for general corporate purposes.

“This financing round further validates Powerspan as a leading provider of carbon capture technology,” said Powerspan CEO Frank Alix. “CO2 capture technology is a vital climate change mitigation tool for reducing CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants, the world’s leading source of electricity.”
(23 April 2009)