Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Finger in the Dyke

The Guardian reports that the Dutch government is scaling back their nuclear activities in favor of coal with carbon capture. The writer, Reuters Carolyn Hornby, is less than impressed:

[Environment Minister Jacqueline Cramer] said that coal, the most widely-used but also one of the most polluting energy sources on the planet, was a favoured option for the Netherlands because of its availability and easy access to Dutch ports, but also for security of supply.

This is the path-of-least-resistance approach to solving energy issues. Carbon capture is a more promising technology than the article allows; still, the Dutch have adopted it largely as a reaction against nuclear energy rather than as a better approach - and it must seem a little ironic to the environmentalists who took the upper hand in arguments against nuclear energy that they've ended up with more coal plants. Surely, an unintended consequence of their intransigence.

7 comments:

Joffan said...

Intransigence, like hypocrisy, is a strong and specific word. I think I would rather describe the dominant aspect of the environmental activists' fight against nuclear power as dogmatism.

Carbon capture may be "promising" but it needs to be much more than that, especially if basing a national carbon control policy on it. Also it needs to be driven by economic consequences for atmospheric carbon dumping.

I'm impressed by the change in tone towards nuclear power in the Guardian recently.

David Bradish said...

I think Mark is using intransigence to mean uncompromising.

DV8 2XL said...

Carbon capture isn't even "promising", it's nothing but a buzz phrase at this point. Even if technologies are developed to sequester carbon dioxide from coal combustion, it is not enough unless CO2 releases from all parts of that fuel cycle are also controlled. Given that there will be a significant energy cost to capture and store this greenhouse gas, failure to look at the whole process from mine to ash heap might well leave us worse off than before.

Alexandra Prokopenko said...

Such decisions are usually lobbied by companies supplying, let's say, coal :)

Starvid said...

Carbon capture is juat propaganda from the power industry. It doesn't work and it is expensive and inefficient. It is very much like fuel cells for the automotive industry, something to point at.

"Hey, we are doing stuff for the environment, jsut give us some time!" And then nothing ever happens.

Carbon capture and fuel cells? No thanks. I'll go for reality based technologies like nuclear power and plug in hybrids.

Anonymous said...

No one has successfully demonstrated large-scale CO2 capture, on the scale required for what is being proposed. For all the easy, breezy talk of CO2 sequestering, it seems like an environmental nightmare, a huge, huge volume of toxic material in a physical form that is extremely mobile in the biosphere. It has no half-life, so it is toxic essentially forever. You have to monitor it essentially forever to make sure it isn't suddenly released in an uncontrolled manner to the biosphere, with devastating effect. Lake Nyos, anyone?

GRLCowan said...

The gas lobbyists calling themselves environmental activists -- and one cannot disagree that they're active on the environment -- are certainly to be condemned, but carbon capture and sequestration should be refuted where it is strong.

If weak CCS proposals are being offered, their weaknesses certainly should be exposed, but the exposer should point to a strong alternative, not pretend that the weak ones are the whole story. Pointing out CCS that works -- is working, as a no-cost side effect right now -- is what I do at http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/Know_Nukes/message/20999.

Let the baby light matches in the fuel room