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Why can’t carbon-based energy production be green?

October 2017

Governments are always saying we need to “invest” in “green” technologies; we need to encourage “green” innovation.  We’ve come a long way in cleaning up our environment in the past without carbon taxes to encourage this innovation.  Why do we need them now?

Back in the 1980s, acid-rain was a great threat and the developed world responded to eliminate substances that caused it.  Lakes, streams and formerly industrial harbours have been significantly cleaned up (I’m looking at you Hamilton Harbour).

The automobiles and trucks on the roads today are more fuel efficient and have emissions control systems that have significantly reduced pollution.

Speaking of green hydro production, the hydraulic production facility at Niagara Falls utilizes one of the greenest methods Ontario has to produce hydro, so why are we spilling water in favour of wind and solar production?

A cheap and reliable source of energy production is with coal, but the Ontario government has closed all the coal-fired generation stations in the name of preventing pollution, which is a good thing, and climate change, of which there is much debate as to the effect of man’s impact on the environment as opposed to the natural ebb and flow of world temperatures.

Opponents of coal are ignoring the fact that there are clean coal-burning technologies, such as carbon capture and storage, that eliminate most of the pollutants that usually result.  Efforts are being made by the coal industry to increase the capture of these pollutants, at an economically viable cost, so they are virtually non-existent.  Why are we turning our backs on a cheap, reliable and abundant source of fuel and hydro generation?

Even the waste products that result from burning coal can be used in safe, beneficial ways.

In 1999, about 50% of the coal fly ash and bottom ash generated in the European Union were used in building materials, such as replacing cement with fly ash, and 87% of the gypsum from flue gas desulfurisation.

Instead of concentrating so heavily on “green” technologies that are heavily dependent of subsidies (taxpayer money), we should demand that our governments explore less costly energy sources, including clean burning carbon-based energy production.  We already extensively use natural gas, one of the cleanest burning carbon-based fuel sources.

Ironically, it’s the use of natural gas and emissions-free nuclear generators that allowed the Ontario government to close all the coal-fired hydro plants, not by expensive wind and solar generation, which supplies only 4% of Ontario’s hydro needs.

The Liberal government in Ontario rushed headlong into wind and solar generation without an economically viable business plan.  Their solution has been to shovel massive and unsustainable subsidies at “green” technology companies to produce and operate wind turbines and solar farms.

Despite all their efforts, Siemens will be closing their wind turbine blade manufacturing plant it Tilsonburg in January 2018 at a cost of 340 jobs.

Siemens announced that the closure was due to dwindling orders and an increased demand for blades longer than can be produced at the plant.  It could be argued that if there was sufficient demand for blades of any length, not only would Siemens keep this plant open, they would invest in the infrastructure needed to produce longer blades.  A company wouldn’t shut down a plant that’s making money for them.

Until we can bottle Unicorn farts for use as a power source, perhaps we should invest in technologies that actually make financial and environmental sense.

 

Sources:  http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/energy-and-the-environment/clean-coal-technologies.aspx, http://cleancoaltechnologiesinc.com, http://www.lfpress.com/2017/07/18/siemens-canada-industry-reacts-to-the-shuttering-of-a-340-job-tillsonburg-plant-that-made-blades-for-wind-turbines.

 

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: http://militarybruce.com/why-cant-carbon-based-energy-production-be-green/

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