Therefore, the only practical way to prevent carbon dioxide levels from exceeding 450 ppm is to phase out coal power except at plants where carbon emissions are captured and stored.Therefore, I was somewhat surprised when I read his new open letter to Governor Gibbons of Nevada, in which he states that:
An outline of a practical way to do this can be readily defined: First, establish a moratorium in developed countries on construction of new coal power plants until effective carbon-capture-and-storage technology is viable; second, establish a similar subsequent moratorium in developing countries; and third, phase out existing coal plants over the next several decades and replace them with energy sources that don't emit carbon, such as wind, solar, and nuclear power, and coal plants with carbon capture and storage. Specifically, developed countries need to stop building coal power plants that don't capture and store carbon by 2012, developing countries need to halt such construction by 2022, and all existing coal power plants without carbon capture must be bulldozed by 2050.
Although the fossil fuel industry pedals misinformation, claiming that renewable energies can only be a niche contribution to energy needs, that contention defies common sense. As proof of the contrary, consider just one of the renewable energies, solar power. The technology for solar thermal power stations already exists, power stations can be built rapidly, and as the market for them increases their unit costs will fall steadily, as the cost of coal power continues to rise. There is enough solar energy in a small fraction of our desert Southwest to provide all of the electrical needs of the United States. Nevada has the potential to be a leader in this field, providing power for itself and for distant locations as a low-loss grid is developed. Leadership would provide great economic benefit to Nevada and provide a large number of high-pay jobs and new businesses.I'm really rather disappointed to learn that Hansen has drunk Ausra's Kool-Aid (why don't people realize that they haven't built a real plant yet and their estimated costs and capabilities are a marketing pitch?), as well as that he seems to have bought into the silly "solar grand plan" published in Scientific American a few months ago. However great an authority Hansen may be in the field of climatology, it seems he has a lot to learn when it comes to energy technology. The piece doesn't mention nuclear power at all, unlike the January editorial; I'm hoping that this is because of the Yucca Mountain boogeyman, but maybe it represents a shift in Hansen's position. That would be too bad, since he was pretty reasonable before but now seems to have bought into wishful thinking that, in practice, is preserving the energy status quo as much as the efforts of the fossil fuel industry.