Saturday, November 11, 2006

Greenpeace: going backwards into the future

The Guardian has reported that the owners of British Gas, Centrica, plan on building Britain's cleanest coal-fired power station. The plant will cost £1bn, and is thought it will be operational by 2011. Centrica plan on crushing the coal and turning it to synthetic gas, this gas will then fire the turbines. All the carbon produced during this process will be filtered out and pumped to the seabed in the North Sea for storage.

According to Centrica, the new station would only produce 0.15 tonnes of carbon per MW/hour, which is far better than their rivals E.ON and RWE, who's clean coal stations produce 0.7 tonnes per MW/hour. Centrica also claim their plant is suited to run on British-mined coal unlike their rivals. Sound great to me.

Except, the miserabalists at Greenpeace have condemned the project - I'd like to know, what on Earth have they got to object about? It's carbon free electricity production for crying out loud. A spokesman for Greenpeace, in the Times (London) tried to defend their highly dubious position by arguing that;

"This plant will lock us into another 50 years of wasted energy. Like all our outdated, crumbling power stations, this proposed plant will waste two thirds of the energy it generates as thrown away heat".

According to Greenpeace, there's no such thing as 'clean coal', that is just a myth. You'd think that a carbon free clean coal power station would be a step forward, and a cause for celebration for environmentalist - but oh no, miserabalism and backwardness seems to be the order of the day where Greenpeace is concerned.

Thanks to Daniel Ben-Ami for the heads-up on this one.

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At 4:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem is Courtney taht some enviromentalists are in the sack cloth and ashes brigade. They always have been.

It is not enough that there may be technical solutions to global warming, they want to predict doom and gloom.

However they may be right about wasted energy if this plant is going to use cooling towers. Thye are other ways to condense steam whilst extracting the enrgy in it after it has been through a turbine. (That is if it is going to be a steam powered plant at all, you can drive a turbine straight of a gas blast which is how gas powered power stations work, and not having to supply the latent heat to make steam makes them more efficient.

BTW, your comment window is very very narrow on my browser.

At 5:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem Courtney is that there always has been a wing of the environmentalist movement that preaches the sackcloth and ashes mantra.

They seem not to accept that there may well be technical solutions to climate change and would rather we all started self flagellation immediately.

At 5:15 PM, Blogger Courtney Hamilton said...

Hi Benedict,

It seems that Greenpeace have poo-pooed this project whether Centrica use cooling towers or not - the underlying message seems to be 'don't use any technology we don't approve of'.

I'm no spokesman of Centrica, but they seem to have bent over backwards to accommadate environmental concerns, yet Greenpeace have written it off as next to worthless.

At 5:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see both my comments made it through! One appeared to dissapear!.

Yes I agree with you re Greenpeace. They are the RSPCA of the environmental world. Useless.

They also think Sterling cycle fridges are new technology despite the fact that they pre date the Rankin cycle by some time.

They also managed to get a Shell platform which was going to be deep sea dumped towed back to shore only for it to turn out later that deep sea dumping was the better option.

At 5:24 PM, Blogger Courtney Hamilton said...


"They seem not to accept that there may well be technical solutions to climate change and would rather we all started self flagellation immediately."

How right you are - what makes me laugh is that most environmentalists see themselves as the last great hope for humanity - I mean, could you imagine that? If that were true, we would all surely be doomed.

At 6:07 PM, Anonymous Ellee said...

We've had a good discussion on Greenpeace and I think we both agree they have lost the plot right now. They really need to move with the times.

At 2:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I just ran across your page and these comments. I'm just wondering a) if it's avoidable to be in the "sack cloth and ashes brigade" (which, as an American, I haven't heard of before) and be an environmentalist at the same time (and, if so, how?) and/or b) how Greenpeace could "move with the times".

I'm not trying to be cynical, or sarcastic, or whatever, I'm actually, sincerely wondering if you all have any creative solutions to the problems you bring up.

At 2:24 PM, Anonymous Ellee said...

Courtney, I've found a reasoned Greenpeace blogger whose site you might like to visit. See you last comment on my post on this subject. Her site is:

Hope you are having a good weekend.

At 9:03 PM, Blogger mandora said...

I think the problem with a lot of activist groups in general (greenpeace, Peta, etc) is that they don't offer solutions. It's very easy to criticize someone elses' solution, and easy to see the negatives with any plan - it's much harder to come up with a better one.

At 4:13 PM, Anonymous Ellee said...

Mandora, Greenpeace doesn't seem open minded to workable solutions, in give and take. Great progress has been made towards their objectives, Rome wasn't built in a day.

At 7:17 PM, Anonymous Jon said...

Coal is made out of carbon (with some hydrogen). You can't have 'carbon-free' coal. When coal burns, it does so by combining its carbon with oxygen in the air, thereby releasing energy. One of the chemicals produced as a result is carbon dioxide. Therefore whatever "synthetic gas" is produced when they crush the coal, it's going to produce CO2 at some stage. It is not true to say that the idea there is "No such thing as clean coal..." is "just a myth". If you can refer us to any physics or chemistry literature to contradict me, please do so.

I'm not a member of Greenpeace, or any organisation, and I don't want to be one of Bendict's "Doom and gloom" predictors. But this idea has no basis on physics.

At 11:15 PM, Anonymous Lucyp said...

As a former member of Greenpeace and a present member of PETA, i may not always agree with the way these groups go about their business but what they do is draw attention to environmental/animal welfare issues that would otherwise be swept under he carpet, and we should all be thankful for that. Shouldn't we?

At 5:06 AM, Anonymous Astroprof said...

Greenpeace seems to object to everything. They can't be reasoned with, either. They get it in their heads that they don't like something, and no matter how much you try to meet them halfway, they won't budge. Even, if you meet them all the way, addressing everything that they didn't like, they'll still object.

At 10:15 AM, Blogger The Intolerant One said...

I was going to say it but astroprof said it for me.

Greenpeace will never be satisfied. I think the more appropriate title for their organization would be "Green noise"!

Wait a minute...isn't noise also considered pollution?

At 6:02 PM, Blogger Lyndon said...

and why are we not talking about combined heat and power stations like they have in Finland and Denmark? No cooling towers over there, no siree.

At 9:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Car Party says invest in carbon capture now.
Added: (Sun Feb 11 2007)
The Car Party and Carbon Capture. 16th February 2007.
Stephen Harrison 0870 863 5878

Car Party says invest in carbon capture now.

A possibility exists to capture the CO2 emissions from fossil fuel power stations and for storing this in exhausted off shore oil fields and gas fields. Great Britain should start investing in Carbon Capture Now!

Natural gas is methane CH4. This is produced from several fields, offshore in the UK North Sea. The gas is brought onshore by pipeline, to the St Fergus gas terminal, and then to the Peterhead power station, where it is burned to make electricity. At present the CO2 from burning this gas goes into the atmosphere.

The plan is to add a new part onto the power station, which will use existing oil-refinery technology to split gas into Hydrogen H2 and CO2. The CO2 will be separated by a newly designed membrane, and will then be then sent offshore, using an existing corrosion-resistant pipeline.

This CO2 goes to the Miller oilfield, which is near to the end of its normal life of oil production. But, like many fields, more than 30% of the oil is still un-produced. The CO2 makes the remaining oil easier to produce - partly paying for the operation. The CO2 is stored in the oilfield, 4km below sea level, instead of being vented into the atmosphere from the power station. This is the first such integrated whole-system in the world, and could be operating before 2009.

This is one such example of how carbon capture could reduce dramatically CO2 emissions in the UK.

The Car Party has other policies for the reduction of CO2 by burning un-recyclable waste for the generation of electricity and stripping the CO2 from the resulting emissions. Nuclear power should be used to generate a larger proportion of our electricity thus reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. This would also reduce the impact on the landscape of wind farms.

Submitted by: Stephen Harrison


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