Energy and Global Warming News for September 4: Coal with carbon capture and storage in China to face ˜staggering costs

Coal with carbon capture and storage is not cheap (see Harvard stunner: “Realistic” first-generation CCS costs a whopping $150 per ton of CO2 “” 20 cents per kWh!). Nor is it easy (see Harvard stunner: “Realistic” first-generation CCS costs a whopping $150 per ton of CO2 “” 20 cents per kWh!) The low-carbon, low-cost future for China is efficiency, wind and concentrated solar power, I think.

‘Clean’ Coal in China Said to Face ‘Staggering’ Costs

Western governments pushing China to use clean-coal technology may need to lower their expectations for the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases.

Costs will total as much as $400 billion over 30 years to install systems to capture carbon dioxide from power plant smokestacks in China and bury it underground, said Richard Morse, a Stanford University research associate and author of a study on the technology. China has little incentive to invest because it will raise power prices and it’s unclear if wealthier nations will pick up the bill, Morse said in an interview.


U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and European nations have championed carbon capture for nations including China as vital to slowing global warming while keeping coal in the energy mix. China, the biggest producer of coal, gets about 80 percent of its electricity from burning the fuel, which spews more heat- trapping gases than natural gas or oil.

“The idea that carbon capture has to happen in China is a western idea,” said Morse. Proposals by developed nations that seek Chinese cooperation ignore the “staggering” costs of clean-coal devices, Morse and colleagues said in the new report.

Companies developing capture systems in the U.S. include American Electric Power Co., the nation’s biggest producer of electricity from coal, and Duke Energy Corp. In Europe, Alstom SA, E.ON AG, RWE AG and Vattenfall AB are testing the devices.

Himalayas hotspot of climate change

It’s 4,000 miles of mountains, seas and valleys from Kathmandu to Copenhagen. With changing climate, it could well become 4,000 miles of sudden storms, flood and climate migrations.Recognising that nations need to pool resources and expertise to face climate change impacts, South Asian countries came together for the first time earlier this week for a climate mini-summit in Kathmandu ahead of the Copenhagen meet in December.

Himalayan ecosystems are ‘the hotspots’. That’s the message from the two-day South Asian Regional Climate Change Conference. The region’s nations have “come to a bit of understanding” of the climate change challenges that transcend political boundaries, say environmentalists and policy makers. “It’s a big first step with a positive outcome,” M S Mani, environmental economist at the World Bank, told TOI on phone.

The mighty Himalayas are acutely vulnerable to climate change. “The Himalayas have been warming three times as fast as the world average and their glaciers are shrinking more rapidly than anywhere else and could disappear by 2035. The Ganges and Indus could become seasonal rather than year-round rivers,” recently wrote Newsweek’s science editor Sharon Begley.

As the source of most of the region’s major rivers, changes in Himalayan ecosystems can drastically alter the lives of more than the 700 million who live in the region. Lesser snow and fast-shrinking glaciers mean rivers becoming trickles and effectively India, Nepal and Bangladesh’s water sources drying up. At the same time, coastal areas like Maldives, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are threatened by rising seas levels.

U.S. wants G20 to axe fuel subsidies: source

The United States plans to call on the Group of 20 to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies in five years and increase oil market transparency when the group meets at the end of the month, according to a source familiar with the proposal.

The world’s biggest energy user intends to argue fuel subsidies distort oil and product markets and artificially raise fuel demand, leading to higher greenhouse gas emissions, said the source, who asked not to be named.

This proposal — which could rankle G20 states with big fuel subsidies such as China, Russia, and India — calls on members to eliminate subsidies in five years. It argues non-members should end subsidies by 2020.

The plan for the September 24–25 summit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, also says members should provide more timely and accurate information on the notoriously murky oil market, including on inventory levels and positions held in the futures markets.

Transparency and speculative activity have become an issue in commodity markets following the six-year record run that sent oil to all-time highs near $150 a barrel last year, battering the economies of import-reliant nations.

Public Support for Clean Energy Bill Shows the Deception in Bonner Astroturf Campaign

A recent poll sponsored by the Center for American Progress goes another step toward revealing the duplicity of Astroturf campaigns like the one that Bonner & Associates was running while representing the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE).

The CAP poll shows that, in swing states, 63 percent of voters support the climate change legislation currently being considered in the Senate. And yet the Bonner crowd was fomenting a “grassroots” campaign specifically designed to make it look like the public was taking quite a different position.

Environmentalists have to declare themselves when they knock on your door, or contact your political representatives, advocating for better protection for the natural world (and for green jobs). Lobbyists also have to register — declaring the purpose for their political intervention and identity of their clients.

Once again, before PR firms like Bonner push their way into the public conversation, they should have to meet the same standard, especially when the opinion they represent favours their (usually anonymous) corporate sponsor and runs contrary to the will of 63 percent of the people who sincerely represent America’s “grassroots.”

BP’s Tiber Find: Fodder for Oil Optimists or Pessimists?

What’s really interesting about BP’s “giant” Tiber discovery in the Gulf of Mexico is how it provides ammunition for both people optimistic about the future of the oil business and those that are a lot gloomier.

To wit: For folks such as Dan Yergin, head of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, BP’s new find shows how technology will overcome. To get at the ultra-deepwater oil field, BP had to drill to record depths””deeper than Mt. Everest is high. Still, with oil at $70 a barrel, there could be $70 billion trapped in the ancient rocks.

These are precisely the kinds of oil fields that were technologically off-limits until recently, when the combination of improved drilling technology and seismic imaging techniques brought them within reach.

And BP’s latest find, coming a few years after another big find at the Kaskida field, just shows how the once-dismissed Gulf of Mexico could prove a source of abundant””and politically-stable””oil for decades to come.

But the Tiber discovery also underscores exactly how tough the oil-exploration game is becoming. To actually pump the oil, BP’s technical challenges are just beginning; other Gulf fields have taken years to bring on line.