Tuesday, January 30, 2018

But few people really understand what clean coal would be

In Trump's first state of the union speech he mentioned "clean coal." I got to thinking that very few people know what clean coal is. Practically no one, on the big national stage including Trump himself, explains clean coal. There is such a concept, but whether clean coal is economically viable, or not, is a very good question. Clean coal may still not compete with solar energy. In other words, solar might be lots better.

Clean coal basically means sequestering the carbon dioxide back in the ground, rather than having it go into the atmosphere. It means still using coal, but capturing the carbon dioxide from the flu gases and figuring out how to stash it away without it going into the atmosphere to cause global warming. An expensive prospect, but I think there's people in the energy industry, doing research on this.

Of course, there are still lots of people who don't believe global warming is happening anyway so that taints Republican ideas for sure.

If clean coal were to work, we could still use our vast coal deposits for energy, rather than having them turn into what's often called "stranded assets." Stranded assets are deposits that the energy companies own that they can't use. It's something lots of big companies would like to do as they have lots of coal and oil deposits on the books.

Still, it's more expensive than just letting the carbon pollute our atmosphere. It may even be more expensive than just developing solar power.

People are easily confused because true clean coal would do the difficult job of sequestering the carbon, but there's other types of coal power that are often called clean coal. Those types of power just scrub the dirty particulate matter out of the flu gas; the dust, and stuff that cause health hazard. That's fairly easy to do and is often called clean coal, but it doesn't take out the carbon dioxide, which is the greenhouse gas. Carbon dioxide isn't poisonous to us and it's invisible. We can't smell it, but it causes global warming. Just taking out the particulate pollution is not really clean in terms of global warming.

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