Although Australia’s electricity is amongst the dirtiest in the world,
[Richard Elkington] said there was genuine bipartisan support at state and federal level for the development of clean coal technology. “In the absence of nuclear, what is really the alternative?” he said.
What’s the alternative? Taking your hand off it for a start.
Wind. Tidal. Geothermal. Solar (not PV, that’s not economic). Coupled with hydro.
Sure, wind, tidal and solar are unsuitable for baseload generation. Geothermal would be fine for that, New Zealand has been running geothermal powerstations for more than thirty years -it’s a proven technology. Perhaps it’s too expensive to drill the necessary holes in Australia, we’re not on top of the ring of fire like NZ is.
There’s nothing stopping you pumping water back into a hydroelectric dam using the fluctuating power generated by wind, tidal and solar plants, and then using the potential energy of the water in that dam as an energy buffer to smooth out generation. For example, solar could pump water during the day, to run the dam at night. All proven, tested, real zero emission technolgies. Windmills have been around for hundreds of years, along with dams. Getting power out of them has been around for a hundred. We know how to do it, really efficiently.
No need for thirsty nuclear, or pixies-at-the-bottom-of-the-garden “clean” coal. “Clean” coal solutions require the rebuilding of power stations (at enormous cost) anyway, so why not build a windmill rather than a smokestack, if the environmental effect is going to be the same (note: “clean” coal still puts out CO2).
It’s just a matter of the politicians pulling their fingers out and making it happen. Don’t expect that anytime soon.
I was thinking about the myth of clean coal today. Maybe they should have called it “slightly-less dirty coal”.
I’m sure you’re aware already, but as an FYI for your readers The Greens have consistently argued for increased funding for renewable energy and not wasting time and public funds on pipe dreams like “clean coal” and geo-sequestration of co2 emissions
See our climate change and energy policy for details
Greens candidate for Werriwa
See also the Australian Conservation Foundation’s scorecard: