Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Europe Joins Coal Binge

Climate activists have been hammering the US and China for their propensity to make plans for more coal plants while the need to halt building such plants in order to combat global warming has become clear. In contrast, Europe has been seen as almost a model for preventing climate change as the Europeans have turned to wind, solar, and geothermal energy. So it is very surprising to read in an article in the Los Angeles Times that the Europeans are planning 40 new coal plants over the next 5 years and Germany alone is planning 27 new coal plants by 2020. Clearly the Americans and Chinese are not alone when it comes to ensuring a future climate catastrophe.

It is particularly surprising that Germany is planning so many new coal plants when that country has such a successful solar power program. The success of this program was evident in a documentary film shown on the PBS show NOVA. That film makes it feel that burning coal for fuel in Germany is on the way to becoming a thing of the past. Apparently not so.

The momentum to consume more and more energy in developed countries and in developing countries appears unstoppable. If renewables are to replace fossil fuels for generating electricity in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions somehow the demand for energy has to be drastically reduced. To accomplish that energy efficiency measures need to be quickly implemented on a vast scale. The last thing this planet needs is more coal-burning power plants.

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