Posts tagged Clean Energy

State of the Union and clean coal technology

"That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies." – President Obama from his January 27, 2010 State of the Union address

During my time at ACCCE we have been very clear on two points when it comes to providing low-cost, environmentally-friendly electricity to meet future demands: 1) We will need all forms of electricity production to accomplish that goal; 2) clean coal technologies must be a major part of the discussion.

Last night the president once again reiterated his campaign messaging that clean coal technologies must be part of this country’s energy future. Is there really anyone that can now argue that the president doesn’t fully understand the need to fund clean coal projects? If so, I’d love to hear that point of view (Jeff Biggers, I’m looking your way).

But for all the issues on which our two main political parties disagree, it’s clear that there are a few things democrats and republicans do agree on. Let’s take a look at what Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell had to say in his response to the State of the Union: “Advances in technology can unleash more natural gas, nuclear, wind, coal and alternative energy to lower your utility bills.”

Last night’s speech was a call for national unity, and from what I was able to determine, it was a call for unity on all the issues—not just a handful of items.

So, with that in mind, it’s time for groups that are adamantly opposed to the use of coal to produce electricity to come to grips with the simple fact that we will use coal in this country for a long time to come.

Here’s hoping that those opposed to coal-based electricity will take the president’s speech to heart and lend their voice (or, at least, refrain from being an obstacle) when it comes to ensuring proper funding for the technologies that allow the use of our most domestically abundant baseload fuel source, while preserving the environment.

Complex issues require bipartisan support, and if last night is any indication, this is one issue both parties can agree on.

West Virginia University: Making strides in clean coal technology

West Virginians know the importance of coal as it relates to the local economy and its role in securing energy independence for the nation—nearly 98 percent of the state’s electricity comes from coal. To that end, West Virginia University (WVU) has been thoroughly involved in research and other initiatives that advance clean coal technologies and lead us into a clean energy future.

WVU’s response to 21st century energy challenges is an Advanced Energy Initiative (AEI) that builds on the university’s reputation as a premier research center for coal and energy. The AEI vision for WVU is to “pioneer conscientious approaches to energy independence creating influential innovations.” This includes everything from offering expanded courses and research opportunities in clean energy technologies, to providing data and recommendations for state and national policymakers.

Among WVU’s initiatives is a project to monitor underground storage sites for greenhouse gases—an important component to reducing emissions from coal-generated power plants—and in September they won a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to keep working.

More than 100 WVU faculty members are working on a wide range of energy research, including carbon management, with more than $98 million in energy-related research conducted over the past four years alone.

Keep up with WVU’s progress in clean energy technologies by becoming a fan of their Engineering and Mineral Resources’ department on Facebook.

Green jobs will come in lots of different shades

Deploying new clean energy technologies will create thousands of employment opportunities for Americans, including the green jobs that President Obama talks about in his energy plan. But keep in mind, President Obama’s energy plan includes deploying technologies to carbon and store carbon from coal-based power plants.

So, what exactly is a green job?

According to Pew Charitable Trusts’ study on the clean energy economy this past June, a green job is one that “generates jobs, businesses and investments while expanding clean energy production, increasing energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, waste and pollution, and conserving water and other natural resources.”

That could be anything from putting up a wind turbine to installing new carbon capture technologies at new and existing power plants.

In fact, the deployment of 100 power plants equipped with carbon capture and sequestration could generate $1 trillion of economic output and create between 5 and 7 million man-years of employment a quarter of a million permanent jobs, reported BBC Research and Consulting in a 2009 study commissioned by ACCCE and a coalition of labor groups.

Unlike jobs created in other clean energy sectors, CCS jobs require higher skills, provide higher salaries, and more sustained employment. As President Obama’s jobs summit today at the White House continues, let’s think big when it comes to alternatives to putting Americans back to work. Let’s focus on opportunities to expand alternative energy resources like wind and solar, but let’s also not be blind to the fact deploying carbon capture and storage will also provide good jobs to Americans as we seek to keep energy costs affordable, meet growing energy demand, and increase America’s reliance on domestic energy resources. What do you think?

We Can’t Stop the Future

Sometimes I’m just not sure where people are coming from. Take for instance some environmental special interest groups who are calling for
an end to financing for new coal-generated electric power plants. Their targets are Citi (formerly Citigroup) and Bank of America. They want

people to picket and petition these banks during two “days of action,” Friday, Nov. 16, and Saturday, Nov. 17. I for one will not be joining them.

Oh I’m sure you can guess what it is they’re having to say, but just in case you want to research more… the petitions and other materials
are available here.

Let’s be honest, their position is short-sighted because as the nation uses more and more energy, no other source is as readily available and
inexpensive enough to use. Are these groups for protecting the environment or just against using coal?

Here’s the funny part, their position would defeat one of their goals — to provide clean energy. By withholding funding for new, cleaner power plants, they would keep older, less efficient plants online longer. Is that really the intent of this protest? Have they really thought this one through or are there people who are ready, willing and able to protest anything at the drop of a hat?

We can’t stop the future. We need new coal plants, and we need the financing to make them as clean as they can be. Without it, we are moving backwards and lose momentum to get to the next generation of clean coal technologies to provide clean, affordable electricity. And shouldn’t that really be the goal we’re all moving toward?