China has beaten the U.S. in getting a coal-to-liquid fuel plant built, thus taking the trophy for "most ingenious and efficient method of hastening global warming". The resulting fuel could power all manner of vehicles -- a technology developed in Nazi Germany during WWII.
It also happens to be one of the dirtiest, most environmentally destructive methods of producing energy yet. Coal-to-liquids essentially doubles CO2 emissions, and this at a time when we desperately need to reduce them. And, like nuclear plants, the coal-to-liquids process consumes vast amounts of water.
The plant, in Inner Mongolia, will use technology developed by Germany during the second world war to convert coal directly into synthetic diesel, dubbed "Nazi fuel". China says the process will help break its booming economy's reliance on foreign oil, and that it will build more such plants.The coal industry is desperately trying to retain a foothold in the market (see here, here and here). By focusing on energy security/oil dependency issues at a time when oil supplies are drying up, people are getting blinded to the environmental consequences of turning to a fuel that is has twice the global warming potential. The huge coal reserves still remaining grant King Coal a promising future -- but a bleak future for the rest of us.
... The Chinese facility, operated by Shenhua Corporation, will be the first of its type in the world. Shenhua would not say when it expects the plant to open, but industry experts said it would be within weeks. Last month, company officials said construction work was 99.5% complete. -- Guardian
The Guardian also states:
... similar projects [are] planned or under way in Japan, the US, Australia, China, New Zealand, India, Botswana, Indonesia, the Phillippines and South Africa. -- GuardianIn defense against environmental outrage, the coal industry continues to cite their intention to sequester CO2 from such plants underground, despite it being widely recognised that they are unable to do so, and may not be able to for decades, if ever. The technological and geological hurdles associated with such plants make carbon sequestration price-prohibitive. Plans for the U.S.'s first carbon sequestration project in Illinois were recently scrapped because of the ballooning price tag.