DN: Two things that are frequently advocated, I think partly because they feel familiar as well as because they are pushed by vested interests, are clean coal and nuclear power. In your book, you address both of those, and are skeptical about both, albeit for different reasons.
AG: They're very different, but I came out at a similar point in my analysis of both. Both of them work, both of them can be used, but both, at least in their current form, carry a burden of implausibility that will probably limit the extent to which they're used.
In both cases, one of the main burdens is cost. In the case of carbon capture and sequestration, the owner of a coal plant that uses CCS will have to use one-third of the electricity that a utility now sells just to power the CCS operation. Well, no matter the price of coal or energy, over time that's not going to work so well. And the sheer volume is so enormous, that finding and characterizing and using the underground storage reservoirs in so many places at those huge volumes is probably not going to happen. Now, I think that it will be used in some places. And I think there's a chance that with enough R&D, enough money thrown at it, they will discover cheaper, easier and more effective ways to capture the CO2. So I do favor demonstration projects. Let's push the limits of the technology, if it did work at an acceptable cost, then we ought to use it.