Focus on coal to fix global warming

The CEO of NRG Energy, David Crane, said on Tuesday that cutting emissions from coal-fired power plants needs to be at the centre of addressing global climate change, Reuters reports. “We need to confront traditional coal-fired power plants,” he told the Reuters Global Environment Summit.

While coal-fired plants generate about 50% of America’s electricity, they are of course also a major cause of carbon dioxide emissions, the main greenhouse gas blamed for causing global warming. Calling climate change “the defining issue of our generation,” Crane added, “The centrepiece of any global warming effort has to be getting carbon out of coal.”

Crane said he recently told students the way to become a billionaire, practice their profession and save the world is to find a method of removing carbon from flue gas. “I don’t feel at this point the nation is rising up as one, saying we have to do something about this now,” said Crane, adding “Our industry is building traditional coal plants now, and they are going to be around for 50 or 60 years.”

NRG Energy currently has plans to build a traditional coal-fired power plant in Texas, which is in the permitting process, according to Crane. The company does not feel “overly good” about its plans for developing this additional coal-fired generation, he said, and is working with environmental groups to offset the emissions.

Crane said the US government has to take a leading role in promoting research and development for technology that would cut carbon emissions. He sees the advent of carbon capture and sequestration, which stores carbon emissions underground, as key. Once the US develops effective technology, it could then transfer the knowledge to developing countries, such as China. “Sell it to them, or give it to them,” Crane said.