There is also a benefit to China converting from oil (something imported) to coal (something available locally).
No, actually it's not. The source of electricity matters, and just because something doesn't directly emit pollutants does not mean its power is derived without emitting pollutants.
For me, when you get to the point where you can construct two valid statements that both are supported by available information, yet one disproves a statement and the other proves it, you have reached the point of 'nits'.
In this case :
"They are not zero emission because electricity can come from a coal fired plant."
"The are zero emission because electricity can come from a nuclear power plant."
Pedants could go a different way, they could say "the bus is zero emission but the infrastructure isn't."
We saw a lot of that with solar panels where people would argue that the energy to smelt the aluminum to make the frames and furnaces to grow the silicon ingots far exceeded any amount of energy that the solar cells themselves would provide.
But one has to wonder, what is the point of arguing at that level when, as the article states, the pollution where the buses are deployed is significantly less?
Pollution where deployed isn't the issue, overall pollution is (the main impact of CO2 is climate change on a global scale). Significant reductions in pollution are to be celebrated, but it's wrong - and takes away from your point - to emphasise something as "zero emission" when it isn't.
I think inhabitants of large Chinese cities that have to wear masks when they go for a walk would disagree.
Actually, both things are quite relevant. Pollution in cities poisons and kills people in the short run, climate change would kill us all in the long run.
You are certainly not wrong when you say that also electric cars pollute, but you should be aware of how and when and why this kind of argument is usually deployed.
There is also the long tailpipe, diesel buses produce toxic emissions where people are, coal fired power plants produce emissions elsewhere. (not necessarily, but likely)
In this case, you're doing so in an attempt to undermine the activity raised in the parent. Not sure what your intention is, but definitely not supported by logic
"Although the processes involved in CCS have been demonstrated in other industrial applications, no commercial scale projects which integrate these processes exist; the costs therefore are somewhat uncertain. Some recent credible estimates indicate that the cost of capturing and storing carbon dioxide is US$60 per ton, corresponding to an increase in electricity prices of about US 6c per kWh (based on typical coal-fired power plant emissions of 0.97 kg (2.13 lb) CO2 per kWh). This would double the typical US industrial electricity price (now at around 6c per kWh) and increase the typical retail residential electricity price by about 50% (assuming 100% of power is from coal, which may not necessarily be the case, as this varies from state to state)."
the amount of CO2 absorbed in the drink will be released upon opening the drink, or else burping or farting.
the amount of CO2 the plants in a green house absorbs is offset by atmospheric CO2 not absorbed by the plant...
yes CO2 has niche uses, but whenever I see people mention CO2 utilization in the context of emissions reduction, it instantly unmasks their lack of knowledge.
The idea that we simply capture it at the chimney, and then bring it to where we need it is in fact very similar to the thought process in a perpetuum mobile.
consider pure graphite as a model of coal, you can burn it, which binds 2 oxygens for each carbon atom, now we capture the CO2, strip the oxygens, and cram all the carbon atoms together into a neatly disposable clump... the burning releases an amount of energy, the reverse process takes at least the same amount of energy.
in the form of CO2 its just incredibly voluminous or incredibly pressurized or incredibly cold to keep stored.
sure you can pump it underground, but the CO2 will still diffuse... then we are just obfuscating the dump
the capture technology is useful if you power it with nuclear or windmills in case CO2 levels and global warming get out of hand. but it is not useful to capture CO2 from the power plant. it is better then to generate the energy with either renewables or nuclear directly.
The amount of CO2 we can pump underground to form carbonates with basalt rock is a drop in the bucket. Unless we find a catalyst that allows us to economically turn tons of CO2 into an inert (and maybe useful) solid or liquid, this is all going nowhere.
No reason to despair, or to stop working on solutions. But today's CCS tech, and the many variations on it, will not solve our problems.
At the moment, our best bet is improved natural sequestration. There is massive potential in better agricultural methods (cf. silvopasture, perennial crops, Upland rice, microbial farming), better land management, re-establishing grasslands in Siberia (cf. Pleistocene Park), farming in the ocean (cf. marine permaculture, upwelling restoration), etc.
My cousin and a friend of my father are working on accelerating plant and algae growth with CO2-rich atmosphere and water, in urban farms (not greenhouse) and mixed-use aqua-farming respectively. Neither have reached scale yet, but the projects seem promising -- enough that both have considered colocating with industrial CO2 emitters.
I also believe that some people are looking into re-using CO2 to store energy from solar power: focus solar rays and get CO2 to react into longer chain hydrocarbons thanks to catalyst. I’m less familiar with that process.
It is still perpetuum mobile...
Regardless of the questionable assertion that people won't have figured out a way to safely contain nuclear waste 100 or 200 years from now - I'm more concerned about civilization still being a thing in 100 years from now to be worried about the effects of our waste on the cockroaches that remain when we are gone.
I think if you take an honest look at likely scenarios, Coal is not green in comparison to nuclear regardless of the relative weight you place on the value of human health and lives now vs. 100 years from now.
Nuclear is safer for the far future and is safer for people now.
Yes you can call them zero emission because they themselves produce zero emissions. This means in the city which is where the most people and the biggest problem with smog is, there are zero emissions.
One further reason that the HN crowd should understand is that it decouples energy generation from it's usage. So once you have clean energy generation you can turn off the coal and no one driving EVs will notice.
EVs are hugely more energy efficient overall, which helps even if what energy requirement is left comes from burning coal.