Tag Archives: Fossil Fuel

11/11/2011 The Phoenix Sun: Congressmen Call for Hearing on the True Costs of Coal

11/11/2011 The Phoenix Sun: Congressmen Call for Hearing on the True Costs of Coal Written by Osha Gray Davidson: Democratic Congressmen Henry Waxman (CA) and Bobby Rush (IL) today called on Republican committee chairs to hold hearings on the full economic costs of coal-fired power plants. The key word here is, of course, full. Big Coal and its supporters in Congress often use the club of “expensive energy” to beat up on renewable sources such as solar power and wind. But, as Waxman and Rush state in their request letter to Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), a new study “finds that the economic costs of air pollution from coal-fired … power plants outweigh the economic value these sources add to the economy.” The letter was also addressed to the chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Power, Ed Whitfield (R-KY).

The study, Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy, determined that economic damages caused by coal-fired power plants outweighed benefits by up to 5.6 times.

Coal-fired electrical generation only seems cheap because most of the costs don’t appear on the power bill. Instead, the full cost of coal is paid by ordinary Americans in increased health care and shortened life spans, by businesses in lost work days due to respiratory and heart-related illnesses, and by the agriculture industry in lower crop yields due to climate change.

The new study appears in the latest issue of the American Economic Review, and was co-authored by economists at Middlebury College and Yale University.

For more on the healthcare costs of coal-fired power plants, see the excellent 2010 study, The Toll From Coal, published by the Clean Air Task Force.

The True Cost of Coal

DOE: Techlines provide updates of specific interest to the fossil fuel community

DOE: Techlines provide updates of specific interest to the fossil fuel community. Some Techlines may be issued by the Department of Energy Office of Public Affairs as agency news announcements: Projects Aimed at Advancing State-of-the-Art Carbon Capture from Coal Power Plants Selected for Further Development: Washington, D.C. — Four projects aimed at reducing the energy and cost penalties of advanced carbon capture systems applied to power plants have been selected for further development by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy (FE).

Valued at approximately $67 million (including $15 million in non-federal cost sharing) over four years, the overall goal of the research is to develop carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and separation technologies that can achieve at least 90 percent CO2 removal at no more than a 35 percent increase in the cost of electricity. This would represent a significant improvement over projected increases in electricity costs using existing technologies.

Advanced CO2 power plant capture systems are a key element in carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technologies, considered by some energy experts to be among the important options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with possible climate change. Existing carbon capture systems currently require large amounts of energy for their operation, resulting in decreased efficiency and reduced net power output when compared to plants without CCUS technology. These penalties can add as much as 80 percent to the cost of electricity for a new pulverized coal plant

Today’s selections focus on slipstream-scale development (0.5 to 5 MWe) and testing of advanced solvent-based post-combustion CO2 capture technologies. Post-combustion capture offers great near-term potential for reducing power sector CO2 emissions because it can be added to existing plants.

The projects, managed by FE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory include:

* Linde LLC (Murray Hill, New Jersey) – Slipstream Pilot Scale Demonstration of a Novel Amine-Based Post-Combustion Process Technology for CO2 Capture from Coal-Fired Power Plant Flue Gas

* The proposed project will use a post combustion capture technology incorporating BASF’s novel amine-based process at a 1 MWe equivalent slipstream pilot plant at the National Carbon Capture Center. This technology offers significant benefits as it aims to reduce the regeneration energy requirements using novel solvents that are stable under the coal-fired power plant feed gas conditions. The Department of Energy will contribute $15,000,000 to the project.

* Neumann Systems Group, Inc. (NSG) (Colorado Springs, CO) – Carbon Absorber Retrofit Equipment (CARE)

* This project, located at the Colorado Springs Drake #7 power plant, will design, construct, and test a patented NeuStreamTM absorber. The absorber will use nozzle technology proven during a recently completed 20 megawatt NeuStream-S flue gas desulfurization pilot project, and an advanced solvent that efficiently captures CO2. This absorber technology is applicable to a variety of solvents and can be added to existing pulverized coal power plants with reduced cost and footprint. Because of the modularity of the NeuStream technology, it can be rapidly scaled to larger size systems and retrofitted into existing plants with little risk. The Department of Energy will contribute $7,165,423 to the project.

* Southern Company (Atlanta, GA) – Development and Demonstration of Waste Heat Integration with Solvent Process for More Efficient CO2 Removal from Coal-Fired Flue Gas

* Southern Company will develop viable heat integration methods for the capture of CO2 produced from pulverized coal combustion using a waste heat recovery technology, High Efficiency System. This technology will be integrated into an existing 25 megawatt pilot amine-based CO2 capture process (KM-CDR) at Southern Company’s Plant Barry. Modeling by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America indicates that a fully heat integrated High Efficiency System will improve by 26 percent the thermal energy performance of the integrated KM-CDR and plant operation. The Department of Energy will contribute $15,000,000 to the project.

* University of Kentucky Research Foundation (Lexington, KY) – Application of a Heat Integrated Post-Combustion CO2 Capture System with Hitachi Advanced Solvent into Existing Coal-Fired Power Plant

* Researchers plan to use an innovative heat integration method that uses waste heat from a Hitachi H3-1 advanced solvent carbon capture system while improving steam turbine efficiency. The proposed process also implements a process concept (working with the heat integration method) that increases solvent capacity and capture rate in the CO2 scrubber.

* The novel concepts and advanced solvent used in this study will significantly improve the overall plant efficiency when integrated with CO2 capture systems, and can be applied to existing coal-fired power plants. The Department of Energy will contribute $14,502,144 to the project.

End of Techline

For more information, contact: Jenny Hakun, FE Office of Communications, 202-586-5616, jenny.hakun@hq.doe.gov

6/28/2011 Gallup Independent: Coal key part of Navajo draft energy policy

6/28/2011 Gallup Independent: Coal key part of Navajo draft energy policy By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau NEHAHNEZAD, N.M – The Navajo Nation has unveiled a draft energy policy that includes coal as a key component of the Nation’s energy mix while not closing the door to future uranium mining and nuclear power. Members of Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly’s Energy Advisory Committee unveiled the draft energy policy June 22 at Nenahnezad Chapter. A public meeting is set for 6-9 p.m. Wednesday at Howard Johnson in Gallup, and 6-9 p.m. Thursday at the UNM Student Union, SUB Theater, in Albuquerque. Additional public meetings were held last week in Shonto, Cameron and Phoenix. “We have an energy policy that was adopted by the Navajo Nation Council in 1980 and then from that period of time there have been various policies that have been developed by different administrations,” Attorney General Harrison Tsosie said. “Some of those policies were presented to the Navajo Nation Council but never approved.” The new draft also will be presented to Council and if adopted, Shelly’s initiative will be the framework for future Navajo energy development.

“We think this is important. It’s the livelihood of the Navajo Nation,” Fred White, executive director of the Division of Natural Resources, said.

Coal and coal-fired plants are a significant component of the Navajo economy and the Nation’s revenues, according to the draft. As a coal producer that derives a significant amount of royalties, rent, fees, jobs and tax revenue from coal mining and production of electricity from coal, the Nation will seek to shape federal fossil fuel legislation and adapt to the new federal regulatory environment, it states.

In addition, Navajo will support newer and more efficient coal technologies being developed which lessen environmental impacts and maximize the efficient use of Navajo coal. The Nation also will continue to develop a renewable portfolio of power generating facilities that balances coal-fired generation and renewable energy generation, and will evaluate the appropriateness of implementing a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard.

Section 9, on nuclear matters, states that the Nation currently supports a ban on uranium mining in Navajo Indian Country. “The Nation nonetheless will continue to monitor uranium mining technologies and techniques, as well as market conditions for uranium mining and nuclear electricity generation to assess the safety, viability and potential of these activities for the future.”

Michele Morris, Shelly’s director for Policy and Management, said, “Right now we are not entertaining any new development in uranium. President Shelly and Vice President (Rex Lee) Jim’s priority for the administration currently is to comply with our existing law, which is the moratorium on uranium mining. Our goal is to comply with that until the public or the Council – the bodies that be – make the decision to change that decision.”

The Navajo Nation approved the Dine Natural Resources Protection Act in 2005 banning uranium mining and processing within reservation borders. Nearly 4 million tons of uranium ore was extracted from 1944 to 1986 under lease agreements with the Navajo Nation. In 2007, with the help of a congressional committee, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency became the lead federal agency in a five-year plan to clean up more than 500 abandoned uranium mines, contaminated groundwater and structures, and a former radioactive dump site. Emergency cleanup action has begun at three abandoned mines while assessments continue.

The draft energy policy calls for the Nation to establish energy corridors to manage the impact on Navajo communities resulting from future electrical transmission, pipeline and railroad infrastructure. This new infrastructure will provide Navajo an opportunity to unlock the value of its vast energy resources by providing transmission corridors to metropolitan centers.

A Navajo Energy Office made up of Executive Branch officials selected by the president is proposed to be established to act as a clearinghouse for energy-related projects and to facilitate energy development. A budget also must be appropriated.

White said that that last spring the Nation decided to re-energize the energy policy planning process. In partnership with the Department of Energy, an Energy Efficiency grant was obtained and a scope of work developed. Sandia National Laboratory was asked to facilitate meetings with stakeholders. Meetings were held in July, September and October with industries focused on fossil fuels and renewables, as well as Navajo leaders and individuals concerned about the environment.

A chronological order of energy decisions dating to 1923-24 as developed. They looked at work done in the 1970s that resulted in an Energy Policy adopted by the tribal Council in 1980, work done by former President Peterson Zah in the early 1990s that resulted in an energy policy statement, and work done by White’s predecessor, Arvin Trujillo.

But last October they hit a wall, bogged down by election year politics. “Nobody was interested in talking about energy policy,” White said. It was put on hold until the new administration and the 24-member Council settled in.

“The decision was to take the policy from the ’80s that was already adopted by Council and use that format and make amendments to it,” White said.

Steven Gundersen of Tallsalt Advisors in Scottsdale is serving as a consultant on development of the policy. Gundersen presented the draft to a small but curious audience at Nenahnezad, some of whom drove at least four hours from Cameron to hear the presentation.

“The policies are intended to be rather brief and rather broad,” he said. “The energy policies are directions we want to move in but are not laws.”

Tsosie said comments received from the public are “suggestions” that will be reviewed but not necessarily included in the document. “The reason for that is that the Navajo people elected certain representatives to establish policy for them and that body is the Navajo Nation Council and the president of the Navajo Nation. So this policy-setting effort is under delegation from the people to those elected officials.

“We are drafting the policy pursuant to those delegations. We’re not actually making laws. These will not be codified in the Navajo Nation Code, but it’s a document that we will use in making decisions regarding energy development on the Navajo Nation,” he said. Council first must rescind the 1980 Energy Policy.

Citing the preamble to the proposed policy, Gundersen said the Nation is establishing the energy policy to protect its natural resources and assets for the benefit of the Dine to create a self-sustaining economic future and to ensure sovereign control over the extraction and flow of resources.

Lease rent, royalty rates and charges for easements and rights of way will be equal to or greater than fair market value. When negotiating renewals, the Nation will maximize the total value of consideration. Project developers will be required to return the land to its original condition, or better, at the end of the project.

The Nation hopes to maximize revenues from large-scale energy developments by promoting Navajo majority ownership, but may designate an entity such as Navajo Tribal Utility Authority as its representative. Communities impacted by energy development will have the opportunity to provide input, and where adversely impacted, to share in a portion of the financial benefits of such projects.

Members of the Energy Advisory Committee include White, Tsosie, Raymond Benally, Stephen B. Etsitty, Martin Ashley, Akhtar Zaman, Albert Damon, Raymond Maxx, Mike Halona and Irma Roanhorse. Michele Henry is the administrator for the Energy Advisory Committee and Energy Office.

Deadline for comment originally was scheduled for July 15, but Morris said they are adding four town hall meetings and extending the comment period to the end of July. There is no deadline mentioned in the announcement from the Navajo Energy Office and no schedule posted on the new meetings. Comments may be sent to michelle@navajonationmuseum.org . The policy is available for download at www.navajo-nsn.gov .

5/29/2011 guardian.co.uk home Worst ever carbon emissions leave climate on the brink

guardian.co.uk home Worst ever carbon emissions leave climate on the brink. Exclusive: Record rise, despite recession, means 2C target almost out of reach. BY Fiona Harvey, Environment correspondent. Greenhouse gas emissions increased by a record amount last year, to the highest carbon output in history, putting hopes of holding global warming to safe levels all but out of reach, according to unpublished estimates from the International Energy Agency. The shock rise means the goal of preventing a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius – which scientists say is the threshold for potentially “dangerous climate change” – is likely to be just “a nice Utopia”, according to Fatih Birol, chief economist of the IEA. It also shows the most serious global recession for 80 years has had only a minimal effect on emissions, contrary to some predictions. Last year, a record 30.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere, mainly from burning fossil fuel – a rise of 1.6Gt on 2009, according to estimates from the IEA regarded as the gold standard for emissions data.

“I am very worried. This is the worst news on emissions,” Birol told the Guardian. “It is becoming extremely challenging to remain below 2 degrees. The prospect is getting bleaker. That is what the numbers say.”

Professor Lord Stern of the London School of Economics, the author of the influential Stern Report into the economics of climate change for the Treasury in 2006, warned that if the pattern continued, the results would be dire. “These figures indicate that [emissions] are now close to being back on a ‘business as usual’ path. According to the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s] projections, such a path … would mean around a 50% chance of a rise in global average temperature of more than 4C by 2100,” he said.

“Such warming would disrupt the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people across the planet, leading to widespread mass migration and conflict. That is a risk any sane person would seek to drastically reduce.”

Birol said disaster could yet be averted, if governments heed the warning. “If we have bold, decisive and urgent action, very soon, we still have a chance of succeeding,” he said.

The IEA has calculated that if the world is to escape the most damaging effects of global warming, annual energy-related emissions should be no more than 32Gt by 2020. If this year’s emissions rise by as much as they did in 2010, that limit will be exceeded nine years ahead of schedule, making it all but impossible to hold warming to a manageable degree.

Emissions from energy fell slightly between 2008 and 2009, from 29.3Gt to 29Gt, due to the financial crisis. A small rise was predicted for 2010 as economies recovered, but the scale of the increase has shocked the IEA. “I was expecting a rebound, but not such a strong one,” said Birol, who is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost experts on emissions.

John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace UK, said time was running out. “This news should shock the world. Yet even now politicians in each of the great powers are eyeing up extraordinary and risky ways to extract the world’s last remaining reserves of fossil fuels – even from under the melting ice of the Arctic. You don’t put out a fire with gasoline. It will now be up to us to stop them.”

Most of the rise – about three-quarters – has come from developing countries, as rapidly emerging economies have weathered the financial crisis and the recession that has gripped most of the developed world.

But he added that, while the emissions data was bad enough news, there were other factors that made it even less likely that the world would meet its greenhouse gas targets.

• About 80% of the power stations likely to be in use in 2020 are either already built or under construction, the IEA found. Most of these are fossil fuel power stations unlikely to be taken out of service early, so they will continue to pour out carbon – possibly into the mid-century. The emissions from these stations amount to about 11.2Gt, out of a total of 13.7Gt from the electricity sector. These “locked-in” emissions mean savings must be found elsewhere.

“It means the room for manoeuvre is shrinking,” warned Birol.

• Another factor that suggests emissions will continue their climb is the crisis in the nuclear power industry. Following the tsunami damage at Fukushima, Japan and Germany have called a halt to their reactor programmes, and other countries are reconsidering nuclear power.

“People may not like nuclear, but it is one of the major technologies for generating electricity without carbon dioxide,” said Birol. The gap left by scaling back the world’s nuclear ambitions is unlikely to be filled entirely by renewable energy, meaning an increased reliance on fossil fuels.

• Added to that, the United Nations-led negotiations on a new global treaty on climate change have stalled. “The significance of climate change in international policy debates is much less pronounced than it was a few years ago,” said Birol.

He urged governments to take action urgently. “This should be a wake-up call. A chance [of staying below 2 degrees] would be if we had a legally binding international agreement or major moves on clean energy technologies, energy efficiency and other technologies.”

Governments are to meet next week in Bonn for the next round of the UN talks, but little progress is expected.

Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser to the UK government, said the global emissions figures showed that the link between rising GDP and rising emissions had not been broken. “The only people who will be surprised by this are people who have not been reading the situation properly,” he said.

Forthcoming research led by Sir David will show the west has only managed to reduce emissions by relying on imports from countries such as China.

Another telling message from the IEA’s estimates is the relatively small effect that the recession – the worst since the 1930s – had on emissions. Initially, the agency had hoped the resulting reduction in emissions could be maintained, helping to give the world a “breathing space” and set countries on a low-carbon path. The new estimates suggest that opportunity may have been missed.