Thursday, July 06, 2006

Chinese Coal Burning -- The Environmental Disaster of the Century

Every time I read someone complain about the dangers of nuclear waste, it makes me wonder if they live on the same planet as I do. No offense, but really...

At this moment, China is burning billions of metric tons of coal, in plants that are absolutely filthy...no pollution controls whatsoever. Consumption of coal is set to double within the next few years. Compared to this very real environmental disaster--a disaster that is happening right now, as you read this--the risks of nuclear waste are insignificant.

Coal Link 1


...Mr. Feickert concludes that China's expected push for coal could have serious consequences in environmental and energy issues worldwide. If the Chinese coal
consuming and industry production development is not assisted properly by the Western world, he fears that an "incipient oil price shock could become very real, even provoking a world recession". This rising coal consumption will inevitably lead to a drastic rise in CO2...

Coal Link 2
About 70% of China's energy comes from coal, and that share has been rising as the country has doubled its consumption of coal over the last four years. China passed the U.S. in 2002, and it now uses more coal than any other country ...

But boosting its use of coal is worsening China's already grim environmental record. The global atmosphere can't take this increase," says Janet Sawin, director of the worldwatch Institute's Energy & Climate Change Program. To cut pollution, China wants to produce more clean-burning coal, which Shenhua's Shendong mine does, and build more efficient and less-polluting power plants. It's also using more natural gas and building nuclear power plants, but those will make up only a tiny part of its energy usage for years to come...

A few important points:

-Wind, solar, and other renewables are "targeted" at 10% of Chinese energy, going forward, and I've seen some environmentalists call this a big win. I don't get it. 90% of the energy is still NOT renewables. Only 4% Nuclear. Only 8% Hydro. That leaves 70-80% of their energy in the hands of coal. The most filthy, polluting, ecosystem-degenerating type of pollutant.

-Hydroelectric has a very bad reputation in China simply because there are no hydro sites to be developed that don't involved the displacement of millions of subsistence farmers. So much for THAT renewable option.

-Talk about "conservation" is nice but irrelevant. China has a billion people who are already using tiny amounts of energy. Any growth of any kind will be huge. No amount of conservation can change that.

-Nuclear power is the only power source that could possibly make a dent in the ecological disaster of Chinese Coal.

If Green-minded people really care about the ecosystem, they should pool their money and immediately fund research into fast, inexpensive nuclear reactor construction techniques, and then take it to China.

8 Comments:

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Kirk Sorensen said...

If Green-minded people really care about the ecosystem, they should pool their money and immediately fund research into fast, inexpensive nuclear reactor construction techniques, and then take it to China.

Yup, that just what I would like to do...

 
At 2:56 AM, Blogger Josh said...

Just today, the Liberal Democrats have said that in the last ten years around 25,000 people have been killed by the normal operation of cars etc. That's more than Chernobyl could have ever hoped to have caused. Yet they continue to be virulantly opposed to nuclear power. Hypocrites!

 
At 9:36 AM, Blogger Tom Benson said...

Thanks for your comments Josh and Kirk. Actually I'm finding a lot of support for nuclear power from both the conservative and liberal political sides. A good number of environmental organizations are beginning to change their opposition to nuclear power...a good sign that the environmental movement is still vibrant and healthy.

 
At 2:50 AM, Blogger Stewart Peterson said...

An AP-1000 can be built in four years.

By the way, the post seems to link the prices of coal and oil, and I really don't see the connection.

 
At 11:00 AM, Blogger Tom Benson said...

Stewart,

I don't think anybody can say for sure what the price connection is between coal, oil, and also natural gas. However to some extent they are competitors so I think over time their prices eventually equilibrate. Just a wild guess.

 
At 5:16 PM, Blogger Rod Adams said...

Stewart:

Though the connection is less now than it used to be, there is definitely some amount of fuel substitution between coal, oil and gas. All can be burned in steam boilers. In places where heavy crude oil is readily available, it is often more cost effective to burn it directly in a boiler than to send it to a refinery for conversion into other types of fuel.

Many boiler operators make their fuel decisions based on the cost per BTU and can make some trades between fuels that supply those BTUs.

 
At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

China is going nuclear in a big way:

msnbc

If they do, and we turn back to coal, then 100 years from now China will be sending relief missions to the impoverished, backward USA.

 
At 10:06 PM, Blogger Tom Benson said...

Yes, China is going this way. But they need to go much further!

 

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