On Monday, June 15, 2006, smoke stacks at the coal-fired electricity plant on the Toronto lake shore came down. TVO’s Studio 2 had a discussion with energy lawyer David McFadden, William Kemp, author of Smart Power, and Gord Perks of the Toronto Environmental Alliance on the significance of this event. Tuesday, June 15, 2006, the Ontario government announced its plan for the future development of nuclear energy. Studio 2 featured an interview with the Ontario Minister of Energy, Dwight Duncan. Boy am I confused; despite listening to both shows I still don’t know if Ontario Hydro will be able to economically fulfill Ontario’s energy needs in the near future without coal. Neither William Kemp nor Gord Perks convinced me that “clean coal” is not a viable option. A search of the Internet resulted in many hits saying “clean coal” was not only feasible but a viable option for meeting our energy needs. The “briefing paper” on this site is typical http://www.uic.com.au/nip83.htm It makes the following points:
· Coal is a vital fuel in most parts of the world.
· Burning coal without adding to global carbon dioxide levels is a major technological challenge which is being addressed.
· The most promising "clean coal" technology involves using the coal to make hydrogen from water, then burying the resultant carbon dioxide by-product and burning the hydrogen.
· The greatest challenge is bringing the cost of this down sufficiently for "clean coal" to compete with nuclear power on the basis of near-zero emissions for base-load power.
This is far from the “clean coal is an impossible dream of engineers” view of both William Kemp and Gord Perks. I would like our government to set up a commission to thoroughly examine all options but particularly clean coal before committing us tax payers to the very expensive and problematic nuclear option. Nuclear is what got us into our current hydro debt situation. I understand the majority of the built reactors are currently not working and when working the reactors produce waste which lasts for centuries. How can this be the best solution? Okay the Liberals now have a plan; this is good but, surely other options need to be looked at too.