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Video: The Folly of Liquid Coal

By Climate Guest Contributor  

"Video: The Folly of Liquid Coal"

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Climate Progress has covered the impending climate disaster known as Coal to Liquids again and again (see below). Recently the Natural Resources Defense Council has produced a 10-minute video on coal to liquids. If you know someone who prefers his or her information in video form, send them a pointer.


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– Earl K.

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7 Responses to Video: The Folly of Liquid Coal

  1. Graeme Bird says:

    Liquid-Coal is not the ULTIMATE answer. Its the PROXIMATE answer while we get some of this other gear together. Its got to be a big part of things but perhaps only for the next 70 years or so.

    Like of course we want as much windpower as T Boone and others can possibly develop at a profit. We could help out here by making stand-alone companies going with solar and wind not taxable on their retained earnings.

    But to do this at a profit, without subsidies, thats something that will take time. We of course want the solarization of the roads and the built environment. But thats a 100 year project in all likelihood.

    The reason why the dieselisation of the transport economy is pretty inevitable for several decades is simply that in our hydrocarbon mix we are carbon rich and hydrogen poor. So the quickest way to unlock all these solid hydrocarbons is to add just enough hydrogen atoms to liquify them to diesel equivalent.

    People are putting the cart before the horse here. Yes we want that balance to keep shifting more towards the hydrogen and electricity end of the spectrum. But we do not have that situation in place and will not have it for many decades.

    You see you start of with liquid-coal. But as windpower, solar, nuclear et al get up to speed that hydrocarbon balance slowly shifts towards the other end of the spectrum.

    Thats another reason why electric cars are not the proximate answer. The attempt to draw that much electricity off the grid without first having the surplus electricity online will lead to cost blowouts. These things take time.

    [Uhh, no, no, no, and no. Try reading this blog a bit first before posting. Liquid coal is climate death. Plugs ins are here.]

  2. paulm says:

    Also electric cars and such like are very workable when combined with solar…with a little imagination.

  3. paulm says:

    The cost of oil at reaching peak are more expensive than many realize or want to accept, including the experts. Because of the feedbacks involved (inflation). Extracting non-conventional oil (tar sands etc) reaches a upping (reversal of tipping) point and starts to spiral out of control. see the report in the Canadian number one national paper…

    http://www.reportonbusiness.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080709.wrpetrocanada09/BNStory/Business/?cid=al_gam_nletter_maropen

    Not only are the direct inflationary cost playing a role but more and more Climate Change effects will have a negative effect on the price (in the worst sense) as we see the adverse weather impacting tar sands production above.

  4. Graeme Bird says:

    One of the rising costs that the Canadians will face with their oil sands is the cost of local natural gas. Since thats pretty much a vital component to liquify this gear on site by superheating steam. This is what I’m talking about. Having all these carbon solids around can be predicted to blow out natural gas prices. Some folks say that this will mean the Canadian tar sands contribution will likely level out at about 5 million barrels a day and only grow very slowly from there.

  5. Lamont says:

    Graeme the biggest problem with our hydrocarbon mix is that we need to leave the carbon in the ground. The reason why we do not live in a climate like the Jurassic is that carbon was slowly sequestered over time taking the CO2 in the atmosphere down from >1000 ppm to ~300 ppm. If you dig up all the carbon and burn it you will turn the clock back and ultimately melt the poles.

    You are right that “the quickest way to unlock all these solid hydrocarbons is to add just enough hydrogen atoms to liquify them”. That is quick, easy and wrong. It takes energy to “add enough hydrogen atoms to liquify them” and if that energy comes from more hydrocarbon sources it means more carbon emissions.

    If your only goal is to get off of middle eastern liquid hydrocarbons and onto USA-mined coal then CTL approach works — but it actually destroys the environment faster than oil. We need to get off of hydrocarbons entirely.

  6. Earl Killian says:

    Graeme, CTL is not a short-term answer, because the plants would take some time to build. It is not a long-term answer, as you agree. I concur with Lamont that it is not even an intermediate-term answer because CTL is just too much carbon.

    You also said, “The attempt to draw that much electricity off the grid without first having the surplus electricity online will lead to cost blowouts. These things take time.” This is misinformation. Plug-ins will charge at night, when there is surplus generating capacity.