Greenwashing in the Energy Industry

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  • September 07, 2010

In this blog I hope to point out a few organisations who I think present a misleadingly “Green” image. There are remarkable similarities in the imagery used between the sites, and the wording used to explain their purpose. Check out their websites and tell me what you think!

Environmental Clean Technologies” is an Australian company who specialises in reducing the impact of the coal industry on the environment. It allows coal companies to spend money positioning themselves against more traditional sustainable energy alternatives. The truth is that coal can never be truly sustainable simply because it relies on massive amounts of rainforest to be compressed over millennia under the ground, only to be mined and burnt. Clearly this can never compete with a wind turbine or solar panel that collects it’s energy directly from the sun. No coal is clean coal.

The Natural Choice is a brand launched by Jemena Gas Networks Ltd and Natural Gas appliance manufacturers, retailers and installers to promote Natural Gas as an environmentally-friendly, cost-effective and powerful energy choice. This site, www.thenaturalchoice.com.au, was developed to aid with Australians’ decision-making regarding Natural Gas. On the site you can find information about Natural Gas, how to get connected and how to purchase and install Natural Gas appliances.” (from http://www.thenaturalchoice.com.au/UpperContent.aspx?ParentId=25)

Natural gas is actually a fossil fuel just like coal or petrol… in unburnt form it is a much worse greenhouse gas than straight carbon dioxide. Apart from the greenhouse gasses, natural gas sports a lot of other nasties which have to be disposed of somehow. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_Gas#Environmental_effects)

Hydrogen.org.au is an organisation designed to promote hydrogen as a green alternative fuel. To anyone with some physics background, using hydrogen as a replacement for petroleum fuels has never been a realistic idea, especially in the automotive industry. It is simply too volatile, physically hard to contain, and requires too much new infrastructure. Not only that, but commercial hydrogen is currently extracted from crude oil, making the whole exercise futile anyway. The whole fuel chain is tremendously inefficient, even if the hydrogen was produced by renewable energy driving a water based electrolysis process.

I find that when an industry needs a whole organisation dedicated to presenting an environmentally sound image, it is usually for a good reason…

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