Make Over for Lady Coal

Coal is cheap, dirty and has been powering the world for a long time, in fact currently 41% of global electricity and 85% of Australian generation is from coal. This is bound to fall in decades to come as renewable energy is developed but until these technologies are as cheap as coal or our political parties grow a spine and think about things beyond their own term, we are stuck with lady coal.

However is not all gloom and doom as the world’s first large-scale coal power station with carbon capture and storage technology (CCS) was officially opened in Canada on the 2nd of October this year. The new $1.4 billion dollar facility is predicted to trap around 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year and store it in an underground permanently.

The New Canadian Facility

The CO2 is captured by pumping it into an amine solution where is it then extracted and sent away for storage or sold off for other purposes. The spirit of recycling doesn’t stop with CO2 though as another by-product, Sulfur dioxide can be captured and converted in to Sulfuric acid, then sold off to industry. Another by-product is ash that can be sold off for use by the ready mix concrete industry.

Don’t think for a second that the Canadians are the only ones developing CCS technology, the US Department of energy has broken ground on a facility in Texas that is predicated to capture 1.4 million tonnes of CO2 a year. In Singapore there are plans to build a CCS facility that will capture 36,000 tonnes of CO2 from a diesel refinery but when you consider that in 2010, humanity released over 33 Billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, we still have a long way to go.

Sweet Lady Coal
Sweet Lady Coal

We firmly believe that renewable energies will be the way of the future, especially when you consider that we receive 1120 watts of power from the sun, per square meter, per second at ground level. There are plans to build a solar array in space that would never see darkness and would beam microwave energy back to collectors on earth, providing endless energy to mankind and don’t get me started on how awesome fusion energy will be. Alas all of these technologies are in their infancy and will take many decades, if not centuries to become cheap and viable, so for now CCS is a great stop gap measure to ensure energy supply is cheap, affordable and green.

Stay Curious – C.Costigan

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