For decades now, fossil fuel industries and those invested in them have pushed the continued use of fossil fuels to meet our energy needs instead of cleaner renewable energy sources. Arguments have ranged from the cost of renewable energy to the lack of realistic alternatives, often making outlandish claims that are frequently untrue.
Now there’s a new one: Clean coal.
A fossil fuel salesman could lead you to believe that clean coal is the future of energy; its cleaner, burns more efficiently and produces fewer emissions than traditional coal. Technically, they wouldn’t be wrong. It is all of these things but only compared to traditional coal. Compare it to any other energy source, including oil, and it still produces more emissions and harmful pollutants.
Clean Coal Around the World
Countries around the world have pushed the idea of clean coal as the savior of fossil fuels. Trump has used the idea in his failed attempt to reinvigorate the American coal industry and it has been a popular concept for the fossil fuel industry in Australia, so much so that they’ve been taking out adverts to show in cinemas.
Australia is a country that has vast reserves of coal and it has become a huge part of income from national exports. The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, announced last year that clean coal would provide the answers to Australia’s growing energy problems. A member of the Australian Parliament even brought a lump of coal to an energy hearing to argue that ‘coal isn’t so scary’ as plans were being put forward to phase coal out to be replaced by renewables.
Research by the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Group (BNEF) found that the cost of pushing clean coal as a fuel for Australia would be very expensive- almost three times the cost of wind power generation when the carbon capture and storage technology needed to adhere to pollution legislation is considered alongside the energy from coal. Sorry, Mr. Turnbull, but clean coal isn’t the way to go.
So, what is?
Fossil fuels are an energy source of the past. They’ve had a huge role in the development of countries all over the world since the industrial revolution but we are now aware of the negative environmental impact that they have. Clean coal is better than traditional coal but it is still very dirty and is no longer competitive economically.
Step forward renewable energy. It’s something I’ve said for a while and will continue to say because that’s what the evidence suggests is the future of global energy. Renewables are now as competitive, if not cheaper, than fossil fuels, yet do not receive the same level of investment and funding seen in the oil industry. Once they do, you can expect to see renewables dominate global energy resources.
Clean coal is just a myth pushed by fossil fuel interests, don’t let them make you believe it’s anything more than that.