150 new coal plants planned in the U.S.A., Why not use best technology?

Of the 150 new coal plants planned in the U.S.A., despite global warming, and new rules that will be coming to limit emmissions, few of these plants will be built to capture the thousands of tons of carbon dioxide that comes from coal.

People must wonder why, these billions of dollars aren't invested in wind, solar, or clean energy instead. The reason is simple. Greed.

Coal is still much cheaper than solar or wind, or at least that is what most of the main line coal fired electric plant owners say. But it is a huge polluter, spewing out sulfur, mercury, carbon, carbon dioxide, and over 100 gasses.

The coal and power industry was hoping that a new M.I.T. study would endorse current practices, but the study draft said that it is critical that the government not fall into a trap of picking a technology winner.

Perhaps that is because that whichever method is used, there are still huge emissions that are considered bad for the environment and harmful to humans.M.I.T. (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) study concludes that the new coal pulverization technology may not be the best technology for new coal plants, used to create electricity.

But the study fails to endorse any technology. Many hoped that the study would give a definitive direction as to the best technology for coal operations. The study, concluded that there was much more technical study to do, before such a determination can be made.

Coal Power plants have been trying to improve technology to reduce the high level of pollution that comes from burning coal. The two new methods in favor are:

  1. Gasification
  2. Pulverized Coal

The idea has been to reduce the coal so that it can burn faster, and more completely. Gasification appears to be cleaner.

But, many utilities have avoided the most important factor that could reduce pollution, which is, that in adding “carbon capture” to reduce the huge carbon, and carbon dioxide emissions that result from coal fired plants.

Robert Socolow, (a “carbon capture expert and engineering professor at Princeton) has a working prototype and believes that carbon capture should be pursued on new coal plants. He says that carbon capture is possible with current technology. Utility companies have been slow to accept this.

Tom Smith, a researcher at Public Citizen, in Austin, Texas says: “It’s clear that coal gasification is by far preferable to building traditional pulverized coal plants.”

This week, the same day that Environmental Solutions (www.environment-solutions.com) released an article on the TXU proposal and political involvement by Governor Rick Perry, a Texas District Court judge blocked a request by the governor of Texas, to “fast track” approvals for 16 new coal plants, using the “pulverized coal” methodology. There is no economical way to capture carbon after combustion in a pulverized coal plant, with current technology.

“It is clear that rather than build pulverized coal plants the country is better off if it builds gasification plants” said David Craid, CEO of NRG Energy in New York.American Electric Power is also planning to build two gasification plants and add carbon separation later. “We think that I.G.C.C. is the right thing to do” said Bruce Braine, Vice President.