Trump administration maintains that nuclear and clean coal are the climate solution

Source: By John Siciliano and Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner • Posted: Friday, March 1, 2019

Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Thursday that clean coal technology and nuclear power are the way to reduce emissions and face down global warming, using the added authority of the International Energy Agency director to bolster that position.

“We believe that you can’t have a serious conversation about reducing emissions without including nuclear energy and carbon capture technologies,” Perry said at an early morning joint press conference with IEA director Fatih Birol announcing two new initiatives to advance those emission reducing solutions.

Perry noted that Birol agrees that making fossil fuels cleaner through carbon capture is necessary, given the projections for continued use of fossil fuels until the next century. Carbon capture technology removes the carbon dioxide pollution emitted by coal or other fossil fuel power plants, or manufacturing facilities.

Birol, in later testimony before the Senate Thursday, said carbon capture is the “most vital” technology of any to lower carbon emissions given the world is nowhere near the “end of the coal age,” mostly because of Asian countries, whose coal plants are relatively young.

He said there is “a growing disconnect” between climate change targets and “what’s happening in real life,” noting emissions are increasing.

“We are not in a position to pick up our favored technology today,” Birol told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “We need all those: renewables, nuclear, CCUS [carbon capture] and efficiency.”

Perry, at the earlier press conference, announced a new $24 million effort to advance new “transformational” carbon capture technology. The funding will be used for cost-sharing research with industry to advance the emission-reducing tech by reducing “knowledge gaps” and scientific challenges posed by the cost of the technology.

The cost of deploying the technology at fossil plants continues to be a primary hurdle in making carbon capture more widespread. Most of the U.S. power plants that use carbon capture p in the U.S. are test

Birol said U.S. leadership is crucial, and the whole world is in need of carbon capture to continue using fossil fuels.

Pressing for nuclear power: Perry also announced the launch of a new test reactor as a “key step” in implementing President Trump’s aim to “revitalize the nuclear energy industry.” The reactor will be used to help industry test new nuclear energy reactor designs to spur a new generation of nuclear power plants.

Birol warned that allowing the country’s current fleet of reactors to retire will harm the nation’s role as the global leader on nuclear power, while also forcing carbon emissions higher.

He told senators that China is set to overtake the U.S. as the “number one nuclear power” in the world within 10 years if policies don’t change.

“It is a critical juncture for nuclear in the U.S.,” Birol said, adding that ceding the nuclear market to China “would be detrimental to both energy security and clean energy objectives.”

Fatih gifts Rick: Birol gave Perry a “gift” at the press conference: A new statistic that showed Perry’s home state of Texas has now surpassed Europe in wind and solar energy production.

Texas now produces 15 percent of its energy from wind and solar energy, Birol said. Perry noted the U.S. is now the second largest renewable energy generator of electricity in the world