Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Clean coal to stop climate change?

Climate change is the result of excessive emission of harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, especially the carbon dioxide (CO2). Fossil fuels, when burning release CO2 into the atmosphere, creating greenhouse effect responsible for problems of climate change, and global warming. One of these "dirty" fossil fuels is definitely coal, with so many coal power plants worldwide that release large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere. Can this be stopped? Well there is this carbon capture and storage technology pilot project in Germany that got a lot of attention. Let us see why.

Energy provider Vattenfall AG launched its first carbon capture lignite 30 megawatt plant at Schwarze Pumpe — in the Lausitz region of eastern Germany — intended to capture and bury up to 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide in the next three years. So how should this work? Basically, idea is to couple lignite-fired power with oxyfuel technology, which afterwards burns coal with pure oxygen, transforming the product into almost pure C02 that is then ready to be injected into the ground. Carbon dioxide is then be stored or can be even put to industrial use, for instance helping pump natural gas from the ground.

Many big countries, including India and China have based their industries on coal, and it is very likely that these countries will continue burning coal to create necessary energy. And if (hopefully) this carbon capture and storage solution works then this technology could really cut down the current rates of greenhouse gases emission in many countries that use coal as their primary fuel.

On the other hand one may wonder why there is such emphasis on carbon based fuels. Carbon capture and storage technology may indeed be a great success but why invest so much work and money on "dirty" carbon based fuels, and so little focus to alternative energy sources. Anything that has potential to stop greenhouse emission rate (and carbon capture and storage certainly has it) is more than welcome but why not turn more to other energy sources that do not have negative effect on climate change, as well as the air pollution. Clean energy is our only weapon powerful enough to fight global climate change.

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