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Schalk Cloete's picture
Research Scientist Independent

My work on the Energy Collective is focused on the great 21st century sustainability challenge: quadrupling the size of the global economy, while reducing CO2 emissions to zero. I seek to...

  • Member since 2018
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  • Aug 23, 2022
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Coal has been a constant headache for climate change campaigners. Despite massive pressure from all sides, global coal consumption refuses to shrink. In fact, 2022 may well see a new all-time high.

Our ongoing global energy woes once again illustrate the reasons behind coal's staying power. In exchange for its big drawback in terms of CO2 intensity, coal supplies secure, cheap, concentrated, dispatchable, and versatile energy to countries with limited oil & gas resources.

No amount of handwaving by rich-world advocates will change the stark reality that coal remains the most viable energy source to uplift billions of developing world citizens to decent living standards (and high climate resilience). Hence, we continue to find better process configurations to responsibly exploit the abundant coal reserves around the world.

The popular science article linked below describes an efficient coal/biomass-to-hydrogen process configuration that can achieve highly attractive economics with zero emissions of any kind. A steady and reliable output of negative-emission hydrogen below 1.5 €/kg is surely something to be embraced, even if 80% of the input energy comes from much-demonized coal.

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