Alpen Steel | Renewable Energy

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Letter: Coal energy vs renewable energy

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The Jakarta Post (John, Makasar) I underscore two points from a letter titled “Coal boom and global warming,” (The Jakarta Post, Feb. 11) by Sunil K Kumbhat of Jodhpur, India.

First, “The cost of clean coal technology is very high, yet when we look at the alternatives to coal, they are even higher than that — for example, nuclear, solar, wind.”

It is not true. They are not so expensive. They are cheaper than the so called carbon capture and storage. Solar and wind power are rapidly becoming cheaper and for many applications in Indonesia (along with micro hydro) make eminently more sense than large, centralized stations.

Second: “The link to climate change has not been established, even though there is an apparent correlation.”

This is a completely and utterly false claim. The link is conclusive and does not rely solely on the correlation of increased burning coal and increased CO2. The isotopic fingerprint of the CO2 in the atmosphere has been conclusively linked to that of the source fossil fuels. (

CO2 produced from burning fossil fuels or burning forests has quite a different isotopic composition from CO2 in the atmosphere.

As CO2 from these materials is released into, and mixes with, the atmosphere, the average 13C/12C ratio of the atmosphere decreases. What is found is that at no time in the last 10,000 years are the 13C/12C ratios in the atmosphere as low as they are today.

Measurements of 13C/12C on corals and sponges — whose carbonate shells reflect the ocean chemistry just as tree rings record the atmospheric chemistry — show that this decline began about the same time as in the atmosphere; that is, when human CO2 production began to accelerate in earnest.

In addition to the data from tree rings, there are also measurements of the 13C/12C ratio in the CO2 trapped in ice cores.”


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