Clean coal: the commonsense answer to Africa’s energy crisis

From The Conservative Woman

By Dr Rosemary Falcon

– August 10, 2020

A CENTURY from now, maybe sooner, it’s unlikely we’ll be using coal to make electricity. Or not much of it.

Wind and solar are getting cheaper and they are easier to set up than building a power station that runs on heat, be it from coal, wood, rubbish or anything else.

The problem is that we’re not there yet. Solar doesn’t work at night, the output slips in cloudy weather, and turbines stand idle when the wind doesn’t blow. Even hydro has its limits when rainfall is low and dams don’t fill high enough to drive the turbines. Batteries are getting better at storing energy, but we need baseload power – and lots of it – to run a city such as Chicago or Cape Town.

So what should we do in the meantime?

Coal is being used at record levels across Africa, and from Poland to Bangladesh, and it’s unconscionable to pump tons of smoke into the air when we have the technology to limit and contain these emissions.

But when activists talk about stopping coal now, or chant ‘Leave it in the ground,’ they are naïve. Most of these arguments are made by people in Europe, Canada or the US who have no experience of life without electricity. Little wonder they don’t understand the hardship of more than a billion people around the world who live permanently without power.

In London the Global Warming Policy Foundation recently published a paper on the links between a lack of electricity and the rise of militia across Africa. 

It demonstrated that without industrial levels of current, as used in the developed world, it is impossible to set up mines and factories and difficult to run a modern school or hospital, and that this is a key reason for Africa’s chronic unemployment problem. Wherever you look at where extremist groups are taking hold or criminal gangs are rife, there are also huge numbers of young people without jobs. And until we solve that problem, there is no chance of winning the war on terror.

The bottom line is that more than 600million Africans live without electricity. Countries such as South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe all get their power from coal. Two years ago Egypt announced it was building the world’s biggest clean-coal generator on the coast, and Tanzania has built a smaller one near the border with Mozambique. Kenya has been off-and-on with political wrangles over a similar project not far from the coastal port of Lamu. The latter met resistance from the public and, in a democracy, the government in Nairobi must take on board their concerns. But it will be a sovereign decision for the people of Kenya and no one else. Likewise, wind, solar, coal or gas projects elsewhere in the world must be sovereign decisions for those countries too.

Overlying this is a need for cleaner air. The Paris Accord on climate change has brought the world together in a pledge for lower emissions, so where fossil fuel is used, we must use the latest clean technology.

In my view, ‘climate deniers’ are those who pretend we can impose our will on others in the name of global warming, as though all 193 member states of the UN will magically come to heel. There is no room in 2020 for playing the ‘colonial overlord’ and it may even push some away from the goal of a cleaner planet. And what happens if a government decide to use oil, coal or gas? Do we go to war, impose sanctions, expel them from the General Assembly? 

So, how about giving them the technology to burn it cleanly?

I am a scientist and have spent my working life researching how to get rid of toxic byproducts when using different types of fuel. At the clean-coal facility at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, we have done just that. We remove much of the dirt from the coal before it even enters the furnace, redesigning ovens to produce more heat and less fumes, and capturing what’s left, then harvesting elements for sale as byproducts.

I have overseen masters and doctoral degrees for academics from across Africa who have the same dream, and we liaise with like-minded schools in the US, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Australia.  

The engineers and scientists we work with around the world are not tub-thumpers or activists. They are scholars doing peer-reviewed work on clean coal. Think of the smoky old cars we had in the 50s, and the early jet engines. Fast forward to unleaded fuel and energy-efficient planes: neither is anywhere near as clean as the new way of using coal.

Across Africa, firewood is still the most common source of energy for warmth and cooking, and it comes at a terrible cost to nature. By this I do not mean just the loss of trees, but habitats destroyed for everything from insects to elephants. West Africa has cut down an estimated 90 per cent of its forest. According to the Worldwide Fund for Nature, Kenya and Tanzania have done the same with their coastal forests. Logging also has a huge effect on weather patterns and the environment. 

Why does this continue? A major contributor is the lack of electricity. If we want to save our forest then the only way in Africa is by connecting homes to mains electricity.  That means for those countries that continue to use fossil fuel and especially coal, we must put money and research into a clean burn.

Full article here and slip her a donation if you’re in the mood.

She does good work.

167 thoughts on “Clean coal: the commonsense answer to Africa’s energy crisis

  1. If the Alarmiss were serious about the dangers of CO2 they would be advocating Nuclear Power. They are not, as it is one of their great shibboleths. They believe that it will cause people to glow in the dark. Solar power and wind-turbines are costly, unreliable, need back-up and over their lifetime are nett CO2 emitters and impossible to recycle at end of use. The whole ‘Climate Change’ boondoggle is one giant fraud from start to finish and was invented to support Leftist-Fascist ideals.

    • First thing I did before reading very far was do a search on “Nuclear” and wonder of wonders, it was missing. So, no need to read any further.

      • The only answer for humanity and saving what wilderness and untouched areas there are on this planet is nuclear power. The simple reality of increasing power density sources at every step of human progress escapes those with no education in science or engineering.

          • South Africa.
            But the problem is the cobalt, copper, manganese ore is mined in the Congo and shipped to China for refining and use.
            Without electricity that is “too cheap to meter,” they will steal it.
            Nuclear is the only answer for them. A few highly guarded plants.
            HV Transmission lines across the continent from those few points.

          • As Joel O’Bryan says South Africa.
            Yes,It may be possible they can afford it. However the problem is that the current ANC regime is in the process of looting the state coffers and they could never be trusted to agree to anything either. They don’t even honour their oaths to the constitution in any event.
            Remember they have declared to get out of the ICC because they failed to honour the agreement of arresting Omar al-Bashir. Can you trust them with anything?
            A few highly guarded plants- guarded by whom?
            So I wouldn’t trust them either
            I am living there so I know they can’t be trusted.

    • New nuclear power is also costly and takes a long time to build.

      Look at UK’s Hinkley Point plant now building: it will add £10 a year to every UK electricity bill when completed for its entire lifespan. If the thing ever gets built…

      The UK has proved unable to finance further new nuclear at Wylfa and Moorside.

      and we are having doubts about Chinese designs elsewhere!

        • Because we like the USA are unsure about China having technical control of our 5G networks and the software on some nuclear reactors… not about the nuclear plant itself.

          The UK plans still show 17GW of new nuclear -about half to chinese designs by chinese firms.

          • Griff is right in this case.

            People on this board (myself included) disagree with almost everything he says.

            However, imagine giving Hitler control of the software running your nuke plants. (Godwin violation intentional)

            I am not saying current China is equivalent to the Nazi regime. However, I don’t believe that anyone can PROVE at this time that they will never have the intentions and capabilities to become an equivalent regime.

          • Right now, the only reason why China is leading in this area is because western greens have prevented the US and Europe from offering these services.
            From the people I’ve talked to, most countries would rather not deal with China, but unfortunately they are the only ones offering to help at this time.

          • “Pillage Idiot August 11, 2020 at 6:54 am

            However, imagine giving Hitler control of the software running your nuke plants.”

            I know people who were running nuclear plants in Romania during the transition over Y2K. There was no problem.

            On the case of Hitler, he would have won WW2 if he was not obsessed by ever bigger weapons, like V1 and V2 rockets and the massive tanks and “rail guns” he wanted to build. If he had stuck with the E-boats, he would have won.

            Govn’ts allow foreign nations control of technologies in their countries. If you want to protect yourself from fear, you build the stuff yourself. Trouble is, the UK has lost *ALL* of that skill due to fear and Govn’t policy. The UK can blame no-one but itself.

        • With respect, Patrick, it’s people like you that don’t understand that the short term solution for Africa — and anywhere else that is still using “17th century” fuels — is clean coal. Nuclear is fine but Africa has large coal deposits and at this stage ‘cheap’ is what is important.

          What we all agree on, I’m sure, is that wind and sun are emphatically not the answer but until we can persuade governments that the strident demands of the climate fanatics have nothing to do with CO2 emissions — as their opposition to nuclear demonstrates all too clearly — and that in any event such emissions are an irrelevance then those parts of the world struggling to get a toehold in the life we take for granted will continue to struggle and to be exploited by warlords, dictators, criminal gangs, and so-called environmentalists whose stated aim is a complete overhaul of human society with them in control.

          • Patrick wasn’t agreeing that nuclear is the answer for Africa, he was responding to griff’s claim that nuclear is too expensive and takes too long to build.

          • “Newminster August 11, 2020 at 3:28 am”

            Have you been to Africa? They would welcome ANYTHING that works RELIABLY! Clean coal requires technology, nuclear isn’t going to happen. Solar and wind are pipe dreams although Ethiopia is on the right track with the largest hydro-dam project in Africa.

      • They are only costly in the West because of stupid regulatory burdens. The US Navy builds modular nuclear fission reactors in every submarine, each one that could power an entire region in Africa.
        What stops common sense are the Green idiots.

      • I live 14 miles from a nuke and all my electricity comes from it. It’s been running for 33 years supplying power almost continually. No one in the area of around 2M people think a second thought on its safety. Over 1M people have moved here since its construction so that hasn’t been a deterrent.

      • Greens use lawsuits to delay and make more expensive, nuclear power plants.
        Then they proclaim that nuclear power is too costly and takes too long to build.

        If leftists didn’t have double standards, they would have no standards at all.

      • Remember Griff no price is too high to be carbon neutral … it’s a climate emergency and at least it will work.

      • The no-nukes crowd sues and obstructs and tortures the regulations as a strategy to drive up costs, and not just nukes, but gas pipelines, gas power plants, coal trains headed to Asia, windmills and solar panels — you name it. The lawyers make vast fortunes, and energy consumers and producers lose, and millions of jobs go uncreated.

        Then as each energy source is proposed, they tell us it costs too much and the jobs never materialize.

    • “Wind and solar are getting cheaper and they are easier to set up than building a power station that runs on heat, be it from coal, wood, rubbish or anything else.”

      Wind and solar are not easier to set up than a power station that burns. This is pure rubbish. Both wind and solar have huge footprints, both physically and environmentally, use rare and unsustainable elements, use largely unrecyclable materials, have short lifetimes (25% of that of a burn-powered plant), high maintenance, and patently unreliable. They are the least green energy on the planet and it matters not that it might be getting cheaper, as all of the above factors have not improved. Even offshore wind turbines are being eaten by the wind much faster than expected.

      YOU CANNOT BUILD A RELIABLE ENERGY SUPPLY FROM UNRELIABLE ENERGY SOURCES.

      • Please don’t even mention the “glow in the dark” joke. It is entirely too much like anti-nuclear propaganda.
        If you want an energy joke, imagine all opponents to nuclear would prefer to stand in front of 500ft windmills blowing at them to generate electricity!

    • There is already an answer to the supply of energy with no problems attached – no emissions, no waste and none of the political interests now so intrusive.
      At present it is below the horizon and so out of sight to most scientists. It is very real. That energy supply is already working and being tested. A 10 MW power station has been in operation continuously for over 2 years.
      There has been no public announcement. Nor will there be until the processes are fully understood.
      This energy is known as Quantum Energy or, by another name, Zero Point Energy. Nikola Tesla understood it but was stopped by powerful financial interests from continuing his research. Now it will soon be available to everyone.
      The introduction of Quantum Energy will change the world as we know it today. What’s not to like?

        • Kemaris. Please explain your comment. What did you not fully understand about my explanation of Quantum Energy? Are you confusing it with perpetual motion?

      • Zero point energy doesn’t exist. Please give details of this alleged plant, including full schematics. Also please permit independent teams full access to his alleged plant so they can verify your claims.

        • As you claim that ZPE does not exist, any explanation by me would just waste your time But do check out the working ZPE models already shown on YouTube.
          The 10MW generating plant I referred to is currently working, but as I had given my undertaking not to reveal its location I will keep my word for now. It is just secret, not classified.
          When it becomes public knowledge you will have all the time you need to examine the technology behind it. It was what Nikola Tesla spent so much time researching.
          I refer to ZPE but those working on it know it as Quantum Energy.
          Please dont get left behind.

          • Models on youTube. If that’s all you’ve got, then no wonder you have to go around begging for investors.

            Until I see a full audit by a completely independent agency, I’m just going to continue to assume that you are out to scam investors.

            Why does the location have to be so secret? In my opinion, it’s because the location never existed in the first place.

          • As you say, explanations won’t move me. I want data, not from you, but from independent agencies.

      • M Allen, in addition to Zero (Point) Energy, unicorn and rainbow energy are equally good choices.

        • I do understand your scepticism. Until you are in a position to know what is being developed you can quote all the ridiculous choices you like. It makes no difference. There are sufficient examples on YouTube about how ZPE works to help you reach a more realistic conclusion. Please dont embarrass yourself any more.

          As for the silly and very wrong comment by MarkW. How did you conclude from what I posted that I am asking for money? I am not, and never have done. I was merely presenting information about what is. in my opinion, a very exciting development in new energy production. Take it or leave it, your choice. I appreciate you want data, as do many others. It will come, just not yet. When I give my word, I keep it.

          ZPE was being researched in the mid 1950s until it was suddenly taken in †he black world. Probably because the PTB decided that a virtually unlimited form of energy would cause too much financial mayhem. Times are very different now so ZPE/Quantum has a new opportunity to show its true potential. And it is.

    • Why nuclear? If it was cheaper than coal the Chinese government would be using it. Instead they’re building coal power stations hand over fist. The real drive here is to push up electricity prices as high as possible to cut competition and literally keep people in the dark. First prize is wind and solar and if no one’s buying it the next thing that’s pushed is nuclear. Obviously the global warming hoax must be maintained otherwise next thing you know coal might even make a comeback in places like the UK!
      Nice to see South Africa leading the way in burning fossilised trees instead of living ones and returning all that ‘carbon’ to the biosphere where it can do a power of good.

  2. I suspect she has not mentioned it as the costs in Africa would be impossible to fund (without Chinese $$ bracelets).
    I hope they are looking for a solution for Africa’s huge energy shortfall and the Western world will only finance windmills and sun collectors – both invented in the 1890’s and discarded as useless, which they still are.

    • Africa’s mineral resources are vast. In the 19th and 20th Centuries, North American a UK/Europe resources stayed internal and built industrial economies internally fueled and fed by that richness.
      The colonial exploitation of Africa by China and the world means Africa never develops. It deeply entrenched corruption is part of its society.
      The way forward for Africa remains bleak as long as thise resources are exported and Kleptocrats steal the resulting wealth stream. The people just remain poor diggers and ore haulers.

        • The people most effective at making the case against Communist China are Chinese Communists. We need more of them bustling about in Africa and Latin America, not fewer.

          • “Matthew Schilling August 12, 2020 at 8:27 am”

            No. Most Africans I know just see China, as an emperialistic nation, doing what they do best. Just like Britain, France, Germany, Belgium etc.

        • There were plans to dig a new canal across Nicaragua by the Chinese, to directly complete with the Panama Canal. I don’t know that these plans are still going forward, since Nicaragua has become embroiled in more turmoil due to the Marxist/socialist agenda running rampant there again by the same actors from the 1980’s. (Presidenti Daniel Ortega is still President, again, and his wife, Rosario Murillo is the vice president and first lady of Nicaragua) Talk about corrupt nepotism. China is attempting to destabilize much of Latin America, to throw a spanner into hemispheric relations within our own backyard, and take a swipe at the Monroe Doctrine.

      • Sub-Saharan African cultures have lagged way behind Eurasian cultures since the Mousterian. The causes have nothing to do with European colonization which was the best thing to happen for Sub-Saharan Africans in the last 50,000 years. The end of European rule benefited only a tiny rapacious
        elite but was disastrous for the African masses.

  3. Fair go, Steve Case – expecting 3rd world countries to jump directly from kerosene lamps and wood fires to nuclear power is IMO ridiculous. The author was advocating for a sensible transition to coal-fired electricity in a continent and by people that she clearly knows and understands well. You and I on the other hand…probably not so much. No need to read further.

    • BoyfromTottenham – expecting 3rd world countries to jump directly from kerosene lamps and wood fires to nuclear power is IMO ridiculous

      In other words, Africans are too stupid to run a nuclear power station.

      • Be fair. I believe that Boy meant most African countries are too poor to build a nuclear power station. They probably have plenty of people who could run one.

      • South Africa has two nuclear reactors generating 5% of its electricity.
        South Africa’s first commercial nuclear power reactor began operating in 1984.
        Government commitment to the future of nuclear energy has been strong. In October 2019, the country outlined plans to build 1 GW of new nuclear capacity by 2030, and to extend the operating lifetime of its existing plant by 20 years.

        https://world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-profiles/countries-o-s/south-africa.aspx

        In 2017 the country produced 89% from coal, 6% from nuclear, 3% from solar and wind, and 2% from hydro.

      • In other words, Africans are too stupid to run a nuclear power station.

        They are simply awesome at running the cities of Portland, Seattle, Chicago, New York and Baltimore, so the BLM crowd is surely capable of running a nuclear power station. RIGHT???

        • BLM couldn’t run a lemonade stand. The harm they have done to Black people all over the world is incalculable.

      • The IQ of Sub-Saharan African populations range from 60 to 80. It is highest in Madagascar whose population is substantially Indonesian. Brain size of Sub-Saharan Africans is about 95% that of Europeans. Sub-Saharan African cultures have lagged well behind Eurasian for the last 50,000 years. Where ever in the world populations of Sub-Saharan African are found they perform below almost all other populations in educational and economic achievement.

        • Sub-Saharan African populations have generally not shown the ability to maintain paved roads. They appear incapable of maintaining on their own the technological level of the Roman Empire.

          • Racism is racism, even when it’s identified.
            Your claim is complete and utter bullshit. I’ve known many Africans, even recent immigrants, and none of them are as stupid as you demonstrate yourself to be.

        • Dear Jim

          Do you have any reference to the IQ of 60 to 80?

          For over five years I worked together with a man from Ethiopia during my 6 years stay in the Netherlands. If anything, I tend to believe his IQ is way over 100 and at the same time, he and his whole Ethiopian family was so wonderful.
          He made race fun himself:
          His two young children, attending a normal Dutch school, one day asked him: “Daddy, why are we so black?” – Daddy answered: “Because you drink too much chocolate milk!”
          We told each other lots of black and white jokes, and at the same time we were both fascinated about his Ethiopian culture and my Danish culture. We had both lived and worked in a wealth of countries all over the world. I believe this is why we could talk and joke about subjects which some people regard as racist . We acknowledged the wisdom and qualities of this planet’s cultures, religion and racial differences, which adds to the richness of the human race.

          • David Becker has online archives of hundreds of IQ studies of populations across the world. The differences between different populations typically range about 1
            or 2 standard deviations but at the extremes say between Ashkenazi Jews and Mbuti pygmies exceed 3 standard deviations.

            Northeast Asians have the highest average IQ of any large population. Small diaspora populations of Northeast Asians all over the world way outperform the dominant populations of their host countries.
            A tiny population of Hakka peasants arrived in Jamaica in the late 19th century to work as indentured laborers in the sugarcane plantations. By the time on the anti-Chinese riots around 1960 their descendants still a minuscule proportion of the Jamaican population controlled over 90% of retail establishments in Jamaica. In Thailand a small Chinese minority which has lived in Thailand for centuries own the great bulk of Thai businesses. Virtually the only exception in the world to this pattern of superior educational and economic achievement on the part of Chinese populations is South Korea where the Chinese minority does not significantly outperform Koreans. However the IQ of Koreans is about 108 compared to a Han IQ of about 105.

          • Average world IQ is about 88. Brain size of Northeast Asians is about 2-4% greater than that of Europeans. Verbal IQ of Northeast Asians is about 100 and Quantitative IQ is about 110.

          • IQ studies of Ashkenazi Jews typically give averages ranging from 108 to 115.

            Measured IQ’s of populations all over the world correlate closely with the cultural achievements of these populations over long periods of time.

            Polygenic IQ scores of various populations have a rank order matching the measured IQ.

          • My Argentine (of Italian grandparents) wife is not only fond of, but also a consumer of chocolate in any form, but that hasn’t changed the color of her -white – skin after more than 85 years. :-). Love that Ethiopian explanation, and your wonderful interracial relationship and further comments on the subject.
            .-

      • “.. Africans are too stupid to run a nuclear power station.”
        The irony intended here is misplaced.
        “Africans are not stupid that’s why they (and the Chinese in their own country) are building clean coal power stations instead of nuclear which which is much more expensive.”
        There, fixed it.
        FYI I’m from those parts.

  4. If coal is the answer, why wasn’t it rolled out across Africa before we had the controversy over climate, when fossil fuel was king? why didn’t we see it in the 50s, 60s, 70s or 80s?

    There are problems with it: first coal power needs a grid… where is the grid coming from?

    If your state has no coal, the coast of importing it is high… and your power plants need to be situated on coast, river or (mostly absent) rail network.

    Renewable energy is an obvious answer for African states with no coal or gas resources and rural communities.

    Morocco, for example, using home built parabolic trough solar power: brief into here…
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_Morocco

    Meanwhile the biggest change in African power availability has been the cheap solar powered LED lantern, with phone charger.

    • Nice try Griff but, it has already been well established that rail networks and heavy industries cannot be run using solar power. Hot water and charged phones are nice but, there are a lot more things than that needed for modern societies to function – things that need large reliable amounts of baseload power that solar will never provide.

      • I’m trying to point out that coal shipment needs coastal or river shipping, or a railway… not that we should power African rail with solar.

        • Griff,

          You’re missing a point here, coal and most other thermal power plants need lots of cooling water for the condenser. That is why they are preferentially situated next to a big water source. Not because of fuel transport issues.
          You can put them in a desert but the efficiency takes a substantial hit, but it can be done if necessary.

          Best,
          Willem

        • Your solution doesn’t provide any jobs or industry all it does at best it gives them some light to read by at night which is fantastic according to you. Worse they are expending large percentage of GDP to achieve nothing. You condemn them to remain 3rd world countries with no hope of ever getting out … oh wait the west is going to redistribute it’s wealth isn’t it :-).

        • Africa is in much the same situation America was in the 19th and early 20th century. It needs a high capacity transportation system. The answer in America *was* a railroad system that linked much of the population areas west of the coastal areas. Every small town in the central US had a rail spur to haul agricultural products, industrial products, and yes COAL! The railroads were here before lots of areas even got electricity. As roads and highways proliferated these railway spurs were abandoned for truck haulage. But the backbone rails still remains even today doing the same function.

          Africa should take a close look at the path the US followed. They might learn something.

    • “Solar powered LED lantern with phone charger.”
      To me this is a deeply racist and offensive comment.
      The people of Africa need, want and deserve, clean water, clean waste water, household electricity, cheap transport, hospitals and schools. And why not, the ability to have an overseas holiday on a plane.
      All the above can be provided by fossil fuel.
      If you don’t think Africans deserve the above get off this website

        • From the article pointed out by Griff:

          Power Africa recognizes that solar lanterns are not the ultimate solution for universal energy access. People need access to an adequate amount of electricity to power productive appliances such as grain mills and water pumps to provide them with meaningful employment, before we can claim they have access to modern electricity.

          The story is a bit like Laura Ingalls’ (Wilder) experience with small baby steps towards modernity and a better, more secure life. However, with a difference: Ingalls’ family invested the little they had in whatever could bring them forward.

          This is somewhat different in in many African countries, where there is a tendency to invest, the little they have, in things that will not improve the living standard significantly in the long run.

          There is tradition in much of Africa to live from hand to mouth. What is needed is education and help to self-help. The foundation is investment in high quality grid scale power from cheapest possible source that can be build fast.
          That is where the coal fired power plants come in play.

          I think this is in line with what Dr. Falcon is pointing out.

          • but, I say again, nobody has built the coal power plant in the last 50 years. Nobody built even the urban powergrids.

            There is some hope…

            Morocco is electrifying, despite no fossil fuel resource to speak of, using home grown solar thermal. Kenya has used a mix of technologies and has provided electricity access, in theory, for all citizens.

            SA’s new coal plant still isn’t finished.

          • I am going to remind you of this statement next year Griff there is a funny story brewing in Morocco but I don’t want to spoil it.

            One hint … safi power plant 🙂

          • WRONG …. google “safi thermal plant marocco” … remember Marocco was fantastic with renewables wasn’t it ?????

            See this is the problem you can’t get even basic facts right

        • Notice how the griffster neatly tries to change his answer.

          Previously he was arguing that coal plants aren’t needed.
          Now he’s trying to argue that while they are needed, they won’t be available for 50 years, so Africans should just settle for what griff believes can be done today.

      • griff is letting them have one solar light.. WOW !

        Thanks griff, such a heartwarming person you aren’t. !

        • and it makes a difference to their lives. Right now.

          while they are waiting and waiting for the coal power stations…

    • As usual, griff is so desperate for an argument, he can’t be bothered to actually make a good one.

      griff wants to keep Africans pure, and poor.

    • I should add that most of Asia 30 years ago was like Africa is today. The rural areas were largely without electrical power.
      Had the Asians followed the griffster’s advice, they would still be poor. But then, that’s the lifestyle that the left wants for the rest of us.

    • griff – August 11, 2020 at 12:41 am

      If coal is the answer, why wasn’t it rolled out across Africa before we had the controversy over climate, when fossil fuel was king? why didn’t we see it in the 50s, 60s, 70s or 80s?

      Well “DUH”, …… griff, …….. it was the Warlords and their “killing machines” that were constantly rolling out across Africa in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s …… and the coal trains “lost track” of their destination.

    • Because the upfront capital cost of a coal power plant ($billions) will be stolen by corrupt African politicians (like the Minister of Energy) before a single bulldozer can be hired to level the site. Thus successful businessmen in Nigeria and the like who need reliable power have invested heavily in diesel generators. Johnny Diesel and the Generators rock the African night.

  5. “Wind and solar are getting cheaper and they are easier to set up than building a power…”

    Not really, when you compare them on a like-for-like basis. When total output and length of service are taken into account, coal will always be cheaper and easier than unreliables. It is only at the front end of their respective life-cycles that unreliables appear to be cheaper than coal.

    I agree with the idea that Africa needs to embrace coal power if it wants to modernize but, a lot of things (and people) will stand in the way of it happening.

  6. Yes, I can actually see solar being a solution in the remoter parts.

    Unfortunately, Africa has generally suffered from a lack of free-market capitalism and property rights, being largely taken over by Marxist dogma and ensuing perpetual wars.

    It’s very difficult to build a power network in the strife that naturally follows.

    It could be such a great place, with a bit of sensible political stability.

  7. It is expensive and generally high water use to clean up coal before burning it. Why is gasification for use in combined cycle generation not considered – from everything I can see, it is lower capital cost, lower water use for cooling towers and does not need any pretreatment of the coal. The same equipment can be multifuel, disposing of unsorted domestic waste (particularly plastics), sewage sludge etc along with the coal and can be configured to recover useful byproducts.

  8. Also, if in a suitable area, solar or low grade geothermal heat can be used to preheat feedwater and fuels.

  9. It seems the problem in Africa is lack indoor plumbing.
    As far as coal. The problem with coal is transportation.
    South Africa seems of have coal and rail.
    But Africa, as wiki says is
    “Africa’s railways are disjointed and disconnected.”
    Most land transportation in Africa is done by roads, and they have high death per capita with road accidents.
    And they don’t much roads for such huge continent.
    I would guess the roads are not good roads. Apparently, the sea ports are pretty good- transporting coal by ships works if can get it off the ships to where the coal power plant is. No sure anyone transports coal by truck- if you did it to any extent in Africa, it probably kill more people in car accidents.
    Looking around:
    “At least 110 million of the 600 million people still living without access to electricity in Africa live in urban areas. Most are within a stone throw from existing power grid infrastructure.”
    https://tinyurl.com/yxmhtjst
    The article goes on by selling solar power, with selling point, they don’t use much electrical power, anyhow.
    Was not a compelling argument, but then they living in slums. And problem of electrical power, is mostly about economic growth. Increase prosperity, people don’t live in slums, and might have some indoor plumbing which involves things that use power, and probably have refrigerator also. But seems the big thing is indoor plumbing.
    The article states some reasons:
    “Urban communities often face many challenges in obtaining electricity access. These range from the prohibitively high cost of a connection, to the challenges of informal housing, the impact of power theft on services and socio-political marginalisation. In many cases, these obstacles are difficult to address successfully.”
    Informal housing is cute term. If living in “informal housing” maybe solar works, or solar works for camping purposes.
    And another significant part, I thought was “power theft”.
    Now, is common to have water theft? It seem a bigger problem could be leaving the tap on by mistake. But for public health purposes, I think providing cheap water, would be a good plan.
    Anyhow I think a main advantage of hydrodams, is providing tap water and agricultural water {and flood control}.
    And was briefly looking at electrical power prices in Africa and they don’t seem high- no where anywhere near as bad as Germany and Europe in general.
    I think a hard thing to do, would make a better rail system, and probably need a better road system to make better rail system.
    But it seems easier and better to focus on indoor plumbing- and improve the roads.
    And challenging thing to do {even for the US} is to make better housing.

  10. Dr. Falcon is a breath of fresh air. Perhaps the new “World Bank” started by China and India and a couple dozen other countries will provide financing for her clean coal power plants in Africa. The old “World Bank” won’t. Much of the irretrievably damaged United Nations is opposed to Dr. Falcon’s sensible approach. In a political sense, it is certainly sad that we must watch while Communist China brings Africans the power to get clean water and jobs. Thanks Greenies!

    • But sadly as an emeritus her voice will soon be gone, no doubt replaced with those of climate indoctrinated youngsters.

  11. Here in Australia we mine coal
    We use the coal for electricity and steel production.
    We also export coal for the same thing.
    We also have windmills and solar for electricity.
    The windmills and solar mean in the long term we will have more coal left to export.
    If Australia had nuclear we would have even more coal to export.
    This extra coal is what can power Africa, there is no need for Africans to have nuclear power until their economies improve.

    Notwithstanding, the above South Africa already has power, and countries like Morocco could be a potential candidate

    • Was,
      If you have ever read a realistic comparison f coal versus renewables in the Australian setting, I would be grateful for a reference.
      I have searched but failed to find a comparison that includes all main relevant factors. Therefore, I have to conclude that those who claim this is cheaper than that are simply repeating ignorant gossip. Geoff S

      • Geoff I Fully understand how costly solar and wind are.
        I am also aware how useless they are for baseload.
        But I see no problem with having some mix of renewables in the overall system.
        There are many historic strategic decisions a country makes that are costly in the short term, but are made because they MAY be beneficial in the long term.
        In terms of fossil fuel two historic examples are
        1. Churchill converted the navy from coal to diesel
        2. The USA stockpiling oil.

        Although I’m not confident in the Australian governments decision making.
        Some long term strategic decision making needs to be made about coal, natural gas, thorium and uranium even if there is short term pain.
        Sorry, I’m not any expert, the above is just my man in the street views.
        Cheers

        • Adding renewables to your power generation mixture always makes your power more expensive.
          They can make sense in areas where it is too costly to run power lines, but that is pretty much the only area where they make sense.

          • Waza and Mark – cogent points from both of you. I think the problem with discussions like this one is that there tends to be a push for the “one simple solution” that will obviate the need for any other, competing, solutions.

            I am just a “man in the street” as Waza so wisely put it. There is one aspect to this endeavour which I have not yet seen addressed except peripherally . The subject is infrastructure. I was one, lo these many moons ago, being recruited for a large railway contract that was going to be done in Southern Africa. I was a signal equipment installation technician for GEC Signals and had been working for them on the upgrades to the old LNER Line from Kings Cross to Edinburgh to make the track ready for the giddy advent of the IC 125 trains. I was good at my job. The contract was coming to an end and some of us would be moved on to do the wiring up in Edinburgh Wavwerly Street station at the big signal complex there and for others – well time to dust off the resume. As you can appreciated installing upgraded signaling equipment was a pretty narrow field.

            So around May 1976 several of the installers – the ones who had already been told we would be moving on to Edinburgh – we scheduled to meet with some GEC Recruiters for a “no obligation, could be a good earner”presentation.

            GEC was negotiating a contract to help with upgrading the railway line from Pretoria in RSA to Rhodesia (as it still was) with options for much long contracts north to Dar es Salaam from there. The pay was, to be honest, jaw dropping. I would have been earning 4 times what I made in the UK and bed and board taken care of by a travelling railcar the expenses would be very low. Round trip flight included start and end of each 6 month contract. It was so good that it actually raised a hackle or two – normally my greed gene is in full play in these circumstances but there was just, well… something.

            So I asked some more questions. The B&B was going to be in a well appointed rail car. True. A well appointed, armored rail car. The whole consist that would be doing the work would also contain two fairly large security detachments from the SA Army. It turned out that the railway infrastructure was a ‘popular’ terrorist target both in SA and in Rhodesia (where the fighting was fairly intense) and white contractors in protected vehicles would be a juicy target.

            So I went to Edinburgh. But it did leave me, after two days of recruiting and getting questions answered, with enough of a picture about the challenges of building and upgrading and maintaining mundane infrastructure.

            It is an easy target – it doesn’t move. It can be hardened but over longer and longer distances this becomes prohibitive costwise. It has to be protected. In our case two pounds of gelignite would stop traffic for hours or days. Would require expensive repairs by teams that would require security. I am sure you can extrapolate the difficulties that can (and from what I heard, actually did) occur.

            Electrical power distribution is an even easier target. Someone in this thread mentioned energy theft as an issue – It would be a thorough challenge, that is for sure. It doesn’t matter what the production set up is – Coal, Gas, Diesel wind solar hydro or Nuclear. Careful surveying and setting of the site for the generation plant could certainly provide a secure defensible site – but once the wires go beyond the next hill?

            Internal conflicts have plagued Africa and continue in many places there, today.

            How to work through this challenge is the underpinning of what gets built.

    • Africa has its own coal – but something I noticed while holidaying in countryside South Africa which impacts on any attempt to introduce technology, no matter how basic, is the lack of a maintenance culture in what, a generation or two ago were hunter gatherers. In many areas, charities or government programs had installed gutters and water tanks on homes to provide for washing and drinking water so that the long walk to the local stream, often km away, is unnecessary but the homeowner had let this fall into disrepair, with gutters falling off houses and pipes to tanks lying on the ground. I saw many instances of this. It is pretty much the same in Australian remote native communities – the government provides and the occupants destroy or simply do not maintain – somehow expecting it will just happen by magic. The same with growing a food garden – the houses have land, and the occasional home owner has cultivated his (or more likely her) plot with lots of food plants well tended, and maybe a goat or two, but most have barren patches of dirt. It is difficult to help those who will not help themselves

  12. The young African girl:-
    1. Should not have to collect water from the river.
    2. Should not have to hand wash her uniform.
    3. Should not have to collect dung for cooking.
    4. Should not get diarrhoea from dirty water.
    5. Should not have to walk hours to get to school.
    6. The school should have running water and flushing toilets.
    I am absolutely convinced that the education of African women is the most important goal of the world today.

    All of the above cannot be powered by a few solar panels

    • but a few solar panels -or at least a solar powered LED lantern – would enable her to study after dark and save her family the cost of kerosene for a (household fire risk) kerosene lantern

      • Once again, griff argues dishonestly. Nobody is saying that they can’t have solar power now. The argument is over whether they should have coal/gas power for the future.

  13. Rosemary, you are clearly a climate alarmist, albeit a scientist also.
    As such I find it almost impossible to have a ratonal discussion with yourself.
    Wind and solar alone wll never suffice the need for the worlds energy.
    We hould leave the people of Africa to burn wood and coal as they need.
    They don’t need your commonsense answer.

    • I’m a little puzzled as to your point… is it relevant that the gas plant was one which failed and disrupted the UK grid?

      • The solar plant is an order of magnitude larger in area but only produces 1/7th of the power. That’s what the pictures make very clear. However, what can’t be seen in the pictures is that the gas plant produces power 24/7 whereas the solar plant produces usable power for maybe 10 hrs a day and only on days when it isn’t cloudy. What’s also unseen is that the gas plant will probably last at least 50 years but, the solar plant will probably only last 10 – 15 years before it needs a complete rebuild. There’s no way that means solar is cheaper or even getting cheaper.

        • But UK gas plants don’t all run full out 24/7 any more and solar absolutely does produce some power even on cloudy days. also the figures on solar suggest they retain. You can use the ground under solar for other things… or put it on buildings, reservoirs, old runways, etc

          Warranties cover output declining no more than 80% after 20 years… figures suggest that’s a minimum level of performance these days.

  14. Leave it in the ground

    “like neodymium for wind turbines, lithium and cobalt for batteries, and copper for basically everything…”

  15. “Overlying this is a need for cleaner air. The Paris Accord on climate change has brought the world together in a pledge for lower emissions, so where fossil fuel is used, we must use the latest clean technology.”
    Yikes, this woman is clearly an idiot. She has no clue what she’s talking about, and confuses fake “pollution” aka CO2 with real pollution, such as smoke, sulfur dioxide, etc. Modern-day coal plants, outfitted with scrubbers are already clean. “Clean coal” is usually greenspeak meaning CCS, or some other such expensive technology to make the coal responsible for less in CO2 emissions.

  16. The warmer a place is, the less efficiently will a power station generate electricity. Cairo and Jo’burg are both warm in the middle of their winters and Africa between the two gets hot all year round.

    • This has got to be the stupidest claim I’ve seen in months. It even tops griff’s best work.

      Power plant burners run at many hundreds of degrees C, the changes in outside air temperature, even in Africa aren’t enough to matter.

      There is no place on the planet where it is too hot for a fossil fuel plant to run.

  17. This is ridiculous – the obvious solution is molten salt small modular nuclear reactors. Cheaper than coal, clean or otherwise

    • Maybe.

      The only problem is they don’t exist yet.

      Even the chinese don’t expect a working prototype for another 10 years

  18. I like her–she makes a good point about climate deniers are simply colonial overloads keeping Africa in the dark and on the take to crappy energy solutions, all in the name of furthering their cause and not helping the people under their rule.

    I saw a documentary just a few months ago about a farmer in Kenya who was going to use his life savings to simply buy a bike. A bike would increase his wealth potential by double almost double and a half because it meant that he would spend less time in transit, able to carry more and sell more at the market. A bike. Not a car, not a plane, not a farm animal–a bike. Something we in the western world now use for sport and leisure, this farmer was saving for to increase his wealth on his farm. I wanted to send him my bike and a trailer if I could find one on the cheap after that documentary. Let me repeat that, a trailer on the cheap–which you can find around here relatively easily. Hell I could spend less than an days’ wage and buy 3 used bikes that are easy to maintain, a trailer and a few parts. Less than a days’ wage for me, but a lifetime of savings for he and his family for less 1/3 of what I can buy. It’s a very sobering thought. And another sobering thought: there’s no way to get it to him even if I did.

    My point is that the author makes a very valid argument.

  19. “We remove much of the dirt from the coal before it even enters the furnace”

    When has that ever been a problem?

    • It’s a problem on low quality coal seams where you have dirt layers spliced into the coal seam. It creates slagging and fouling problems.

  20. Most of the arguments above are on baseline electrical production. Gen IV nuclear is coming quickly and should be in production shortly. Appear to be a priority for the Trump admin. Apparently made a lot of progress under Rick Perry.

    Coal is not only a source of baseload electricity. It is also a source of vehicular fuels via CTLs (synthetic diesel), which I think will be its ultimate use. Think of a CTL plant as a refinery for coal. It is an option that ought to be considered. Cheers –

  21. I prefer the “all of the above” approach to energy poverty, whether in Africa or anywhere else in the world! Let Griff ride around on his unicorn, bestowing solar panels and wind turbines on his adoring minions; the adults need to look at every source available and use the best for each country or region! Clean coal, natural gas, nuclear and even sugarcane ethanol as a liquid fuel for transportation where feasible. To paraphrase Gary Oldman in “The Professional,” “Everything! Bring me everything!”

    • The thing is, people are actually putting in renewable solutions in Africa.

      They have not and are not putting in coal power plants and extending grids.

      SA’s new coal plants are still building, Zimbawe’s are vaporware.

      for a country like Morocco, without fossil fuel of its own, solar makes much more sense. Kenya uses renewables in the 25% of the country off grid.

      sugarcane ethanol might be a good idea… but Africa contributes only 5% of the current global sugarcane production, and 83% of this is in Sub-Saharan Africa. If you don’t have the scale of production of Brazil??? don’t know!

      • Griff,
        Try to be honest! The reason that few African countries are building coal fired plants is that the World Bank under pressure from environmental groups has not been providing financing for such projects; once again showing the wide racist stripe down their backside. I, personally, as a student of African slavery and the Abolition Movement feel that the world owes it to itself to help Africa recover from the destruction of the slave trade and the colonial period that was sometimes as bad!

        I would like to see the US challenge China in Africa by providing foreign aid for specific projects to aid with infrastructure development, like hydroelectric dams that could provide clean water, as well as nuclear plants where ever nations have shown they have developed beyond the kleptocracies still rampant throughout the continent. You CAN NOT build a modern infrastructure on unreliable wind and solar and most African countries cannot afford the expense! Maybe at the same time we could try to counter the destruction of Christian churches and the slaughter their congregations, since Christianity is the ONLY force to ever bring about the abolition of slavery on a large scale!

        • but did the world bank finance that in the 50s, 60s or 70s?

          I’m not convinced it did, but don’t have evidence as yet to say it didn’t.

  22. The Green Shirts claim that Nat Gas is just as ‘carbon’ intensive as coal, due to all kinds of iminginary fugitive emissions from drilling to processing. So if this is the case, then why not just burn coal? Clean it up before burning like Dr Rosemary Falcon is doing in SA, and clean up the air exhaust emissions of pollution. The main problem with coal historically was how polluting it was, and we have cleaned that up a lot with new technology. This can be duplicated in Africa.

    We need to change the narrative that CO2 is pollution, but the dirty coal of the past was a metaphor for CO2 because of the polluting coal fleet we had for a century or more. But when the public are fed pictures of a steam cooling tower from a nuclear reactor, and it is labeled pollution from a fossil fuel powered plant, then we need to get out in front of the narrative and correct this misinformation. Once people see clean coal exhaust and it is minimal pollution, they won’t be as concerned about a trace, odourless invisible gas that is essential for life on the good Earth. Developing clean coal projects in Africa is part of the solution to electrifying the African continent and bring prosperity to themselves.

      • Believe it not Griff, there are people much more radical than you that want no Natural Gas of any kind either and do claim that fugitive methane emissions make nat gas as ‘carbon’ intensive as coal. That has been widely reported by many of the radical groups.

        The particulates are pretty much limited by the electrostatic precipitators and the coal ash makes some of the best cement available, which can be put into many different permanent products that lock this away permanently. There is a whole industry that utilizes coal ash for many different products, especially for roller compacted cement The air pollution is minimal on a new modern coal burner. There is more CO2 emission, but as you know here, we don’t ascribe to the theory that CO2 is harmful or the control knob for the long term climate.

        Not allowing Africa to develop with the assistance from the West in building new clean coal tech is a crime against humanity. Where there will be no grid, then yes, we can do solar PV, especially in areas of the planet that are more conducive to solar insolation and as we would both agree, solar thermal for hot water already makes a lot of sense anywhere. As does passive solar heating which can be planned into every new house build. Simple sunshine warming up a thermal mass in a house, which also be reversed for a type of cold sink for A/C in a hot summer by running a cold refrigerated liquid through it, or just colder ground water.

        • but the practical people actually transforming European energy don’t think like that about natural gas…

          H2 injected into natural gas networks is for example a major part of German energy storage plans going forward. That is gas. H2 is there for a long time to come…

          The UK now runs on wind/natural gas…

          and my point remains – who is building any sort of baseload power in Africa? They plainly haven’t in past decades, so why would I expect them to now?

  23. The pulverized fuel burned in power stations under goes considerable cleaning of its flue gas exhaust principally in electrostatic precipitators. It is a fairly clean combustion. The global warmists don’t care about removing particulates such as cenospheres all they care about is carbon dioxide. Smoke, particulates, oxides of nitrogen and sulphur dioxide to a certain extent to my mind are far more important than carbon dioxide which of no consequence whatsoever.

  24. Another BETTER solution:

    1) We build a giant electrical line from both the east and west coasts of the U.S. to Africa. (All other advanced countries should build their own lines).

    2) Anyone who thinks burning coal has got to stop immediately donates all of their share of electricity to Africa – they keep paying their electric bills but the electricity goes to Africa.

    Now Africans have at least some of the needed electricity, and the people complaining about CO2 get to pay for it – and learn what it’s like to live without electricity.

  25. This is nuts: “Coal is being used at record levels across Africa, and from Poland to Bangladesh, and it’s unconscionable to pump tons of smoke into the air when we have the technology to limit and contain these emissions.”

    Modern coal fired plants do not emit smoke. They burn cleanly. The minor amounts of stuff they do emit are harmless.

  26. This makes no sense: “Overlying this is a need for cleaner air. The Paris Accord on climate change has brought the world together in a pledge for lower emissions, so where fossil fuel is used, we must use the latest clean technology.”

    The Paris Accord is (foolishly) about carbon dioxide. It has nothing to do with “cleaner air.”

  27. as many have pointed out, “clean coal” is an oxymoron.
    But who cares? as long as you (a) don’t live south of Canada (e.g., most of Russia), and (b) have enough money to afford extreme air conditioning (have you been to Scottsdale AZ?).

    • Why do you believe a few tenths of a degree (at absolute most) of warming is going to require “extreme air conditioning”?

      Do you a kool-aid distributorship or something?

  28. The author apparently is misusing the term clean coal to mean a combustion process that emits no CO2. The US burns about half a billion tons of coal a year to make juice. The process is already clean. Making Africa wait for CO2 removal is a crime against humanity.

  29. I am not concerned about Africa’s energy issues. What I am concerned about is the endless tsunamis of African men invading every other continent.

    • How do you know?

      Tell me why there is going to be new coal plant built now to solve the problem of grid access, when there hasn’t been in 50 years.

      tell me what’s wrong with the Moroccan and Kenyan solutions.

      Tell me why it isn’t better to have a few solar panels to halve your diesel consumption for a hospital in the interior right now… tell me why if your only light source is a kerosene lantern why a cheap solar LED isn’t better.

      • Because of the inverter.

        The inverter and components necessary to make the panels work is more expensive than a diesel generator and fuel for the long term. It may be less expensive in the “long run” at about the 15-20 year mark but we’re not talking the long run here. The needs are immediate.

        The size of panels required, batteries to store the energy, inverters to harness and utilize the energy safely, and electrical wire to run that energy to where it is needed—so lets be clear, we’re not talking about a solar panel on the roof and installing some LED lighting.

      • “griff August 12, 2020 at 3:18 am

        How do you know?”

        You have proved it time and time again.

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