LA Times promotes coal power big time

LA smog
LA smog

An LA Times editorial, No to nukes, came out strongly in favor of building thousands of coal power plants:

On average, coal plants operate at 30% efficiency worldwide, but newer plants operate at 46%. If the world average could be raised to 42%, it would save the same amount of carbon as building 800 nuclear plants.

(Coal power plants tend to be smaller.) Strong support was also made for natural gas:

One fast-growing technology allows commercial buildings or complexes, such as schools, hospitals, hotels or offices, to generate their own electricity and hot water with micro-turbines fueled by natural gas or even biofuel, much more efficiently than utilities can do it and with far lower emissions.

The assertions aren’t true. It is true that increasing use of natural gas would require increasing imports of natural gas.

California can’t even use the coal power plants, as this Times article explains:

The California Energy Commission … imposed new rules that effectively forbid the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and all other municipal utilities in the state from signing new contracts with coal-fired power plants.

So where will we get our electricity from? Well, the LA Times omits that detail. Wind is not an important resource in CA. We are already highly dependent on natural gas — how many liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals would CA need, if we eschew nuclear power? It is unlikely that hydro will become increasingly more important, given assumptions that we have moved into a drought. California’s population is expected to increase by 20 – 30% in the next two decades, our contracts with the current coal power sources (21% of CA electricity) can’t be renewed. Biomass is probably not an important source of electricity for a state with our air pollution laws, and besides, the plan is to use it for biofuels.

Should Fresno build plants to produce electricity from biomass (except we’ve planned to use it for our fuel) or even more natural gas?

Downwind from Fresno
Downwind from Fresno

Nope, not well thought out.

There are a number of mistakes in the article, as well as statements that are true but irrelevant.

3 Responses to “LA Times promotes coal power big time”

  1. Richard says:

    I have it! We’ll all turn off our TVs, computers, battery powered cars and start burning horse manure for heat, light, and whatever. That’ll work, NOT.

  2. Talk about confused. Maybe the solution for California would be to build Nuks in Arizona, and export the power to California.

  3. Name says:

    I think there are a lot of sound reasons to dislike nuclear power, but they rarely seem to be the centerpiece of anti-nuclear articles. I think all of the important research comparing it to coal could be summarized on an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet and reprinted weekly on page B25.

    100% chance of small increase in early mortality for a large number of people

    vs

    small chance of 100% early mortality for a small number of people

    What are we saving New Mexico and southern Nevada for?

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