"There is no such thing as peak natural gas."
"It is denial and censorship to call coal, nuclear, gas and oil 'dirty'."
"[These technologies] will be safer, and cleaner than renewables that get all the press today."
"You're not going to have communities against nuclear power if you give them big infrastructure money at the same time."
These are just a few of the things stated on a panel entitled, "Debunking 'Dirty Technology' Myths - From Campaign Rhetoric to Action" at the Clean Tech Forum 2009. If you haven't wet your pants yet, click through for video snippets that will likely make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. We have a long way to go to get even the most high-ups in the nuclear and coal industries to get serious about cleaning up these technologies. That's proven by the existence of this panel and what the members had to say about the two energy sources.
The panelists from left to right are: Dirk McDermott, Founder and Managing Partner of the Altira Group, Lady Barbara Thomas Judge, Chairman of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, John Deal, CEO of Hyperion power Generation, Lionel Kambeitz, CEO of HTC Pureenergy, and Danial Goldman, EVP and CFO of GreatPoint Energy.
As you can tell, these are folks who know what is happening in the industries. And what they have to say didn't make us feel much more secure about the direction of nuclear power, or "clean" coal.
On the issues with nuclear:
It's easier to get nuclear plants in countries without a democracy:
UK regulations that need to change for the benefit of nuclear:
On what happens to nuclear waste:
On the myth behind what a "Carbon Capture Ready Coal Plant" really means:
In "clean" coal, "we need to...," "we need to....," "we need to....."
Essentially, the panel did a great job saying, Gee, we need to clean up hydrocarbons, and did little to state to the contrary that they are actually not dirty technologies. The "mythbuster" panel didn't bust many myths.
America Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity also made an appearance at Clean Tech and asked to talk with us about what they have going on. ACCCE points out that their "coal-based generating fleet" is 70% cleaner since 1970. On the basis of regulated emissions, that is. Oh, and that is some intentionally specific wording from ACCCE — see, regulated emissions themselves have decreed by 35% since 1970, but we don't immediately think of anything other than emissions when we hear "clean." ACCCE says there's more too it. Brad Jones, a representative of the organization, says coal is "cleaner" mainly because coal is burned more efficiently at higher temperatures, so less coal is burned to create the same amount of energy.
Repeating again and again in their materials, ACCCE says coal is "America's most abundant energy resource" - a statement that all by itself makes us roll our eyes. Sunlight is more abundant than coal, so too is wind. Let's toss geothermal and tidal in there to spark a good debate. Renewable resources are more abundant than finite resources, especially those we have to dig for. But back to ACCCE.
ACCCE works to two ends. One is to increase communication, education and awareness about clean coal as a power source, including consumer education that coal is an abundant resource and therefore must naturally be snapped up.
The other half of their effort goes towards shaping federal policy regarding clean coal technology. They lobby for 12 principles that accomplish 4 goals:
1 — Does the legislation reduce emissions?
2 — Does it protect fuel diversity? The organization feels strongly that no energy source should be eliminated from the table (in other words, they want to make sure coal use isn't cut back).
3 — Does it protect consumers from increases in electricity rates (in other words, does it put coal first, since coal is currently cheapest)?
4 — Does it allow for more deployment of technology? Brad Jones stated that they advocate for any legislation to give coal companies around 10 years to implement new regulations and policies, rather than 2-3 year time lines that are often proposed. In other words, they advocate for coal companies to be allowed to take their sweet time to improve.
ACCCE puts a lot of emphasis on advocating for carbon capture and storage and improved techniques for burning. The organization's member companies are working with the federal government and various labs on CCS techniques in order to "put CO2 back where it came from" even though its in a completely different form this time around...
No mention is made about advocating for cleaner or less damaging methods of coal mining.
To end on a high note, there is a lot of solar and wind technology representation at this event, and we'll be covering their efforts to pique investor spending.
More on Clean Coal and Nuclear:
Uncovering Energy Elephants in the Room? Hydrogen, Nuclear, Clean Coal
Clean Coal Carolers from an Industry Run By Morons
There Is No Such Thing As Clean Coal
Avoid Reliance on the Evil Sun with Clean Coal
Wind Power Beats Nuclear & Clean Coal, Other Renewables As US's Best Energy Option
Google CEO Eric Schmidt on Renewables vs. Nuclear: "Renewables are cheaper"
Nuclear Fusion Redux: How Realistic Are Scientists' Plans to Build Mini-Stars on Earth?
Sweden Says No to Nuclear Negativity