Putting The Interests of People Ahead of Climate Change Hysteria

Japan has provided over $20 billion in financial support, between 2007 and 2012, to build new coal-fired power plants, of advanced design, in developing countries.

This is in addition to Japan replacing many of its old coal-fired power plants with new coal-fired power plants of advanced design, with plans to build over 40 more.

Japan is placing the interests of its people ahead of climate change hysteria.

This is unlike the Obama administration, with its war on coal, issuing regulations that attempt to prevent the use of coal and the building of new coal-fired power plants, even those of new, highly efficient Ultra-supercritical plants.

Existing, traditional coal-fired power plants in the United States have a thermal efficiency of around 32% HHV.

The thermal efficiency of coal-fired power plants in Japan is now over 40%, and can rise to around 45% HHV. This is a significant improvement, with a 36% improvement in efficiency over older units.

A 36% improvement in efficiency also means a corresponding reduction in pollutants emitted by the newer units.

Japan is financing Ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants around the world that rely on advances in metallurgy.

The coal industry in the United States, however, promotes enormously expensive Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) plants as clean coal. These plants rely on capturing CO2 and sequestering it underground … a politically correct solution to the non problem of CO2 emissions.

IGCC plants cost over $6,000 per KW … which is about the same as the cost of a new nuclear power plant.

The spokesman for the coal industry in the United States continues to proselytize for its concept of clean coal using IGCC power plants, which is unfortunate because Ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants are far less costly and are truly clean with respect to emission of pollutants. (Recognizing that CO2 is not a pollutant.) See, Clean Coal is Dead, Long Live Clean Coal.

Subsidies for IGCC power plants and for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) are not warranted, and are a terrible waste of tax payer money.

Carbon capture and sequestration is a fantasy, with an impossible objective of storing huge quantities of CO2 in geologic formations underground.

Not only is the quantity of CO2 emitted by the United States large, but there is no certainty that the CO2 would remain underground for the thousands of years needed to prevent a climate catastrophe, assuming CO2 is the cause of climate change.

Other unresolved CCS issues include:

  • Ownership of geologic formations
  • Legal liability if CO2 escapes or causes harm
  • Whether injecting liquid CO2 underground would cause earthquakes

The massive costs associated with CCS, and the uncertainty over whether the CO2 would remain sequestered underground for centuries, leads to the conclusion that CCS is unrealistic. See, The Why and How of Carbon Capture and Sequestration.

Japan is promoting its Ultra-Supercritical coal-fired plants around the world, from Chile, to Vietnam and India.

India is also placing the interests of its people ahead of climate change.

India has increased its coal-fired power production of electricity an average of 9% per year between 2005 and 2012.

India 2012 Coal production by State, Image from EIA
India 2012 Coal production by State, Image from EIA

India plans to increase the mining of coal, targeting production of 1.5 billion metric tons by 2020, an increase of nearly one billion metric tons from 2012 … a more than doubling of production.

Reportedly, the thermal efficiency of coal-fired power plants in India is only 27%, far below the potential efficiency of new Ultra-supercritical coal-fired plants.

If India adopts Ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants with assistance from Japan, it could ultimately increase the thermal efficiency of its coal-fired power plants from 27% to 40%, or more, with a correspondingly large reduction in emissions.

Japan is now the world’s largest supporter of coal-fired power plants in developing countries, using its advanced design. This clashes with the stance of the Obama administration which has opposed the financing of coal-fired power plants anywhere in the world.

With pressure from environmental groups and the governments of Europe and the United States, the World Bank has stopped funding coal-fired power plants in developing countries. This policy condemns millions of people to live in poverty without access to electricity.

Japan has undertaken to finance coal-fired power plants in the countries that the World Bank won’t, which could help provide electricity to the millions who would otherwise have to live without electricity.

Construction of Ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants around the world would help bring people out of poverty, while improving air quality where older, less efficient coal-fired power plants have been in use.

It would put people ahead of climate change hysteria.

Building Ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants in the United States would keep electricity prices low, while maintaining continued improvements in air quality as older, less efficient units are replaced.

This would also put the interests of Americans ahead of climate change hysteria.
[A version of this article was published earlier this week at masterresource.org]


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