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Al Gore: Clean Coal Not the Answer

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Source: The Age 
Australia should not bank on being able to reduce its greenhouse emissions by storing carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants, US climate advocate Al Gore has said.
A day after The Age revealed plans by the Brumby Government to gamble on "clean coal" technology in Victoria, Mr Gore expressed serious doubt about its viability and said Australia's focus should instead be on renewable energy.
"I think a country like Australia probably has more usable and profitable sources of renewable energy than any other nation," Mr Gore said in an interview with The Age.
"You have desert areas, abundant sunlight within tens of kilometres of most of your major cities.
"You have the ability to construct an Australian super-grid that will transmit that solar and wind and geothermal power straight to the cities . . . and in the process create lots of good new jobs."
Mr Gore has also rejected suggestions that his climate advocacy is driven by his investment interests in renewable energy, and that he has become the first "carbon billionaire".
Mr Gore is promoting a new book, Our Choice: a plan to solve the climate crisis, in which he explores the state of technology for alternative energy sources and carbon capture and storage.
Governments in Australia have put a strong emphasis on developing carbon capture and storage. But Mr Gore's book expresses serious doubts about it.
"All the technologies have been tested and they all work, but they have not been integrated in a demonstration at scale and I think that is the next step," he told The Age.
"There will be a question of how costly it is both in terms of energy and money both to capture and sequester. Proper sites have to be found to ensure safety."
Mr Gore also warned that older coal-fired power stations would have to convert up to a third of their generating capacity to power carbon capture and sequestration.
"What should be discarded is any illusion that carbon capture and storage will be available any time soon at a scale large enough to make a dent in our CO2 emissions," he said.
Mr Gore also urged Australia to move forward with its own emissions trading scheme without waiting for the US, where the legislation is facing a difficult passage in the Senate.
And he took issue with a New York Times article suggesting that his advocacy of climate interests was driven by his investment interests and had led him to become the world's first carbon billionaire.
The newspaper detailed investments in Silver Spring, a company that makes "smart grid" technology. Mr Gore advocates building a "supergrid" and the White House last week announced a $US3.4 billion investment in the grid.
"In the nine years since I left public service, the vast majority of my investments have been in other areas. But I am proud to have invested in renewable energy and efficiency energy strategies and of course I invest in keeping with my values and my beliefs," he said.
"Were I not to do so these same people would criticise me as a hypocrite."
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