One of the last-minute bills the General Assembly will consider in the next 48 hours is a measure mandating that "25 percent of power sold in Illinois come from clean-coal plants by 2025." The legislation would also allow for the construction of a $2.5 billion coal...
One of the last-minute bills the General Assembly will consider in the next 48 hours is a measure mandating that "25 percent of power sold in Illinois come from clean-coal plants by 2025." The legislation would also allow for the construction of a $2.5 billion coal-gasification plant near Taylorville, IL, assuming that the operators of that plant commit to "capturing" at least 50 percent of its carbon-dioxide emissions.
While the carbon sequestration provisions of the bill are considered a concession to environmentalists, some are concerned that the technology necessary to actually capture the CO2 will not be ready in time. An article in The New York Times today points out the hurdles faced by "clean coal" proponents:
Coal is abundant and cheap, assuring that it will continue to be used. But the failure to start building, testing, tweaking and perfecting carbon capture and storage means that developing the technology may come too late to make coal compatible with limiting global warming.
“It’s a total mess,” said Daniel M. Kammen, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. [...]
The fear is that utilities, lacking proven chemical techniques for capturing carbon dioxide and proven methods for storing it underground by the billions of tons per year, will build the next generation of coal plants using existing technology. That would ensure that vast amounts of global warming gases would be pumped into the atmosphere for decades.
Here's to hoping our representatives in Springfield are aware of these obstacles. It's a risky proposition to sign off on a plan that hinges on the use of untested technology.