Sunday, October 12

Did Europe Just Bid Olde King Coal Adieu?

Tough vote today by EU Parliament limits new power plants without carbon capture and storage: essentially bringing to an end the long reign of Olde King Coal.

Our carbon footprint in California is just 11 tons. That is not because we are more virtuous than the rest of America, with its 22 ton footprint. We are just blessed with legislation that has effectively outlawed coal as a significant portion of our electricity supply. So our carbon footprint is half that of the rest of America.

Now Europe is following in California's lead on coal plants. Members of the EU Parliament voted today for tough regulations which would force energy companies to fit expensive equipment to trap the emissions.

This makes coal plants more expensive than wind (twice) and solar and even geothermal power. So actually, this kills plans for a whole new generation of heavily polluting coal-fired power stations.

The new carbon dioxide emissions limit set by the European Parliament environment committee is the same as that set by California: no more than 500 grams of CO2 per kilowatt per hour.

They also voted for a €10 billion dollar fund to pay for trials of clean coal technology: carbon capture and storage or CCS, which could trap most emissions. This could enable some coal stations to be built, using the EU funds to pay for the massive expected costs.

While carbon capture addresses the climate change problems of burning coal, it does nothing about the environmental hazards caused by mining coal, and even CCS supporters admit that it would not be available at commercial scale until 2020 at the earliest.

As John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace said: "Emissions performance standards have already worked to stop new coal-fired power stations in California, and it's a welcome development that Europe is adopting a similar principle here."

For Matter Network