Canadian state moves to clean up coal-fired power plants

A new provisional policy has been announced by the progressive Canadian state of British Columbia to clean up coal-fired power stations; the same state that the GLOBE Foundation believes could be energy self-sufficient by 2025. The new policy requires that new coal-fired power plants must emit no carbon dioxide, but instead capture and sequester their carbon dioxide emissions using technology that is currently available today according to local politicians. The cost to build such a plant are estimated to be at least 10 to 15 percent higher than a regular pulverized-coal plant however.

Some experts feel the result of the policy will be to effectively mandate Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) coal gasification technology which produces a purer waste stream to extract the CO2 from. IGCC is commonly seen as one of the few realistic approaches to effectively capture carbon dioxide. It also has the advantage of reducing NOx and sulfur dioxide emissions to be more in line with those from a natural gas-fired power plant. The best way to actually sequester the captured carbon dioxide is proving to be far more contentious.

Analysis: Reduced emissions and easier carbon dioxide capture make IGCC attractive (as far as coal-fired power stations go). The technology to sequester this captured carbon dioxide in deep geologic formations is still far from being proven in the long-term though. I don't think pumping carbon dioxide into the ground is really the answer in the same way that pumping crude oil out of the ground isn't either. A better solution is to pursue growing algae for biodiesel with all that carbon dioxide.

[Source: Technology Review]

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