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Interview: Limitations of new energy technologies

11-25-2010 09:12 BJT

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"Carbon Capture" may be a difficult technical term that only science professors will find terribly interesting. Fore a better understanding of the technology and what it can do in real life, our reporter Shen Le went to a coal power plant that has what it takes to capture carbon dioxide. Full Story>>

James: You did two stories on the subject of carbon capture and storage. Do you think this subject is a bit too technical and how much relevance does it have for the common person?

Shen Le: On the contrary James, I believe this is the most relevant subject to talk about if we're ever going to get serious about creating a cleaner and greener future in China. That's because China relies heavily on the burning of coal to generate electricity and heat. Official data indicates that coal based power plants generate some 70 percent of the country's total electricity output. And that reliance on coal will last for a considerable amount of time. Experts estimate that by 2020, at least 60 percent of the country's power generation will still depend on coal. That's why it has become not only logical, but also more practical to develop technologies such as carbon capture and turning coal into a gas, to reduce the amount of carbon emissions in existing coal-based power plants.

James: What about other forms of renewable energy like wind power, hydro-power and solar power? Why not simply just move on to these sources instead of coal?

Shen Le: The reason why those sources aren't the ultimate answer James, is due to the limitations of these technologies. Almost all places need electricity, but not all places have conditions optimal for power generation. For example, the wind farms rely on a constant supply of wind, and solar power stations requires frequent sunlight. And not all places have rivers to build hydro power stations. But coal-based power plants can work pretty much under all weather conditions and can be built pretty much anywhere. The limitation of existing battery technologies is another factor. Now the power cells are still too big and too expensive to make solar power plants commercially viable. It is also why most wind farms and solar power stations are not linked to the national power grid, because the grid needs a stable supply of power and can not tolerate too much fluctuations. However, we do have something else that can provide a constant and stable supply of power. This is where my colleague Bai Jie comes in and explains China's efforts to harness the power of atomic fission.

Editor:Zhang Ning |Source: CNTV.CN

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