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Digged deeper and thought along

At this point statements, thoughts and comments concerning different topics of energy supply will be published in loose sequence.

2011.03.10

Clean Coal

German edition of the Scientific American, Spektrum der Wissenschaften, published in January 2011 an article headlined »large laundry for the climate« describing a scenario of a clean and economically feasible  technology to separate carbon dioxide from the flue gases of coal fired power plants. The following lines – slightly supplemented by explanations – have been published in March 2011 as letter to the editor in reply.

It is fascinating and unbelievable at the same time: More than half a century after starting „the peaceful use of nuclear energy“, there is still no concept for final deposition of nuclear waste.

While stepping into CSS-technology (carbon capture and storage) the same mistake will be committed for a second time. Even worse: Due to finite half life, there is at least theoretically the dangerous potential of nuclear waste will decrease notably during a period of some billion years. In contrast, any carbon dioxide storage facility has to be kept sealed literally for evermore. Besides this, the amount of carbon dioxide is by far larger: The order magnitude ranges in millions of tons per year and coal fired power station.

On which time frames actual technologies promise safety, one may observe at the example of Asse, a German test mine for nuclear waste, which suffers from heavy water intake just after a few decades of operation – no reason to repeat the errors of the past. Even from the economic point of view the balance does not look that bright as the article lets assume. Short-term revenues from trade of emission certificates are accompanied by cost for operation and security for storage facilities along non foreseeable periods of time. And from today’s perspective, it is pretty likely that similar to nuclear industry, revenues will be privatized while costs are socialized.


original article: large laundry for the climate (in German, Große Wäsche für das Klima)
reply (pdf in German, 120 kB)

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