Industry experts have come out to support the Donald Trump White House’s planned “Clean Coal Alliance”, which is aimed at sharing carbon capture and storage (CCS) and high efficiency, low emission (HELE) technologies with countries around the world.
In November 2017, White House Adviser George David Banks promoted low carbon fossil fuels as the best alternative to the Paris Agreement, suggesting the technology is the best response to rising temperatures as it would “balance mitigation with economic development and energy security.”
The alliance would likely be made up of some of the biggest coal consumers in the world, such as the US, along with coal consuming countries including Japan, India, Australia, Vietnam, Poland and some African countries.
In his State-of-the-Union speech, Donald Trump celebrated the end of the “war on American energy” and the end of the war on “beautiful clean coal”.
Mark Morey, a former Asia-Pacific marketing director for Alstom, said: “Even if a plant isn’t being built in the U.S., a lot of them are using technology that is coming from the U.S.”
While there are innovative centres around the world, including in Australia, China and Europe, there are few that compare to the national laboratories in the US, which are exporting their findings to the developing world helping provide clean energy security.
David Mohler, an Obama-era former deputy assistant secretary for clean coal and carbon management within the Office of Fossil Energy at DOE, said: “I think the U.S. labs produce the best research in the world.”
He added that it would be beneficial for the US to partner with countries building new coal power plants to roll out the technologies they are developing.
Meanwhile, other industry experts who have applauded the idea of a Clean Coal Alliance have said they hope the Donald Trump White House and Department of Energy would prioritise the deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.
Douglas Hollett, a former principal deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Fossil Energy said: “For anybody to use the phrase ‘clean coal,’ it has to include capture and sequestration.”
“I think it’s important to look not just at the U.S. but at that global market. And the world’s going to be continuing to burn a lot of coal for a long time,” he said. “That’s what makes CCUS even more vital on a worldwide scale — and not just capturing, but also using and storing or sequestering that CO2.”
David Victor, a professor and director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at the University of California, San Diego, said a Clean Coal Alliance could naturally occur if the Trump administration is working with other nations, especially developing ones, to help fund CCUS projects.
“It may amount to nothing,” Victor said. “But I think it’s part of an effort for folks inside the administration who want to engage in some kind of constructive way on the climate issue to find a way of doing that that is not completely toxic here at home.”