CoalWire 68, 18th December 2014

December 18, 2014

features

China coal peak: What the International Energy Agency missed 

“The International Energy Agency (IEA) published its annual Medium-Term Coal Market Report yesterday, with a lot of attention devoted to proffering the notion that China’s coal consumption will continue to grow until the end of this decade, despite a dramatic slowdown this year, and ambitious new energy and climate targets. But an analysis of the IEA’s calculations suggests they may be a very optimistic outlook for the world’s most polluting form of energy based on data from the world’s largest coal companies,” writes Lauri Myllyvirta in EndCoal.

Suggested Tweet: #China #coal peak: What the @IEA missed http://bit.ly/1uZZ37R @laurimyllyvirta

Big Coal’s 2014 nightmare

“If 2013 was ‘annus horribilus’ for the global coal industry, 2014 has become its never-ending nightmare. Around the world the coal industry has been confronted with unprecedented opposition – from frontline communities opposing new mines or polluting power stations to the burgeoning divestment movement. As community opposition has grown and the industry has been engulfed in scandals of its own making, political and financial support for the industry has waned. All the indications are that 2015 may well be the year in which Big Coal’s transition towards ‘Little Coal’ accelerates,” writes Bob Burton in RenewEconomy.

Suggested Tweet: Big Coal’s 2014 Nightmare http://bit.ly/1JaFXFy @bobburtonoz @renew_economy

Sundarbans Oil Spill Shows Why Bangladesh’s Rampal Coal Plant is a Bad Idea

“A shipping collision in the Sundarbans World Heritage Area in Bangladesh has demonstrated the dangers of shipping coal, oil or other toxic products through the area. On 9th December the Southern Star-7 tanker, which was carrying about 350,000 litres of furnace oil, collided with another cargo vessel and sank. The oil spill has apparently already reached 70 km on either side of the crash site, and continues its toxic spread,” write Mowdud Rahman and Aviva Imhof inEndcoal.

Suggested Tweet: Oil Spill in World Heritage Area Shows Why #Bangladesh’s Rampal #Coal Plant is a Bad Idea http://bit.ly/13ozOFv @avivaimhof

campaigns

South African mine work stalled by injunction

Landowners and farmers have won an injunction freezing construction work on part of a new coal mine at Makhado in Limpopo province. A lawyer for the farmers said that studies indicated that the series of mines proposed by Coal of Africa (CoAL) would deplete aquifers within a 25-kilometre radius and take hundreds of years to recover. The court ruling suspends a number of authorisations for the project granted by the regional government and requires CoAL to prepare a regional impact assessment of its proposed mines. (BDlive)

Suggested Tweet: Court backs farmers concerns over Makhado #coal mine impact on #water http://bit.ly/1zqros7 #SouthAfrica

US regulator agrees to end orange clouds from blasting

The US Office of Surface Mining (OSM), which regulates coal mining in conjunction with state and tribal authorities, has agreed to a request by WildEarth Guardians to develop a rule regulating the “health and safety aspects” of gases emitted after blasting at coal mines. WildEarth Guardians argued that the reddish or orange clouds of nitrogen oxide and other gases could exceed national health safety standards by up to 300 times. OSM said it recognised the “inherent danger” of blast-generated “fumes and toxic gases.” The coal industry opposes the development of a new rule.(WildEarth Guardians, SNL)

“The coal renaissance in Europe was only a dream,”

states the International Energy Agency (IEA) in the Medium Term Coal Market Report 2014.

top news

Californian pension funds under pressure to divest from coal: The President of the Californian Senate, Kevin de León, plans to introduce a bill requiring the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System to divest from coal stocks. The pension funds, which are the largest in the US, respectively hold US$100 million and US$800 million in coal stocks. (Guardian)

Balkans lignite projects challenged:Bankwatch has submitted a complaint to the Energy Community Secretariat, which oversees energy projects in South East Europe, arguing that “demonstrably false” pollution data has been used in the environmental assessment of the proposed 600 megawatt (MW) Ugljevik III lignite power plant in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bankwatch also released a study casting doubt on the economic viability of the proposed 450 MW Tuzla 7 plant in Bosnia and Herzegovina.(Bankwatch)

Panel recommends OK for new Australian export terminal: Despite hundreds of submissions opposing the proposed T4 coal export terminal at Newcastle the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC), a New South Wales Government agency, has recommended the project be approved. The commission conceded there is “no immediate need” for the 70 million tonnes per annum project and opposed the request that coal trains be covered. However, it recommended that approval would lapse in five years if the project hasn’t proceeded. (ABC News,Planning Assessment Commission)

China cuts coal conversion plans: The Chinese Government is considering a ban on new coal-to-gas and coal-to-liquids projects in its next five-year plan while allowing already approved projects to be completed. Chinese media reports suggest the current coal-to-gas target may be cut from 50 billion cubic metres (bcm) a year to 15 bcm a year with similar reductions in the coal-to-liquids target. This would reduce coal consumption by approximately 300 million tonnes a year, approximately half China’s estimated growth between 2014 and 2020. (Greenpeace)

Queensland government hits panic button on Abbot Point dredging: The Queensland Government is pressing ahead with a plan to dump dredge spoil from the proposed expansion of the Abbot Point coal terminal on the Caley Valley wetland. While public consultation on the plan to dump spoil on a nationally-important wetland has yet to be completed, the Queensland Government wants contractors to begin work in early January. The government is subsidising the dredging in a bid to make Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine, railway and port project financially viable. (Guardian)

Republican move to block US overseas coal limits: The US Congress has approved a budget appropriations bill which contains provisions preventing the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im) and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) implementing policy restrictions on the financing of new overseas coal plants. The legislation has yet to be signed by President Obama. (Huffington Post, Vox)

“Coal is a source of energy that the past was based on, not a source that the future will be based on,”

said Susan McDade, the deputy assistant administrator of the United Nations Development Program, at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change talks in Lima, Peru.

news

Bulgaria: Varna plant to close after CEZ fails to get exemption from European Union pollution rules.

China: BHP Billiton estimates Chinese steel consumption to fall while production grows.

China: Anti-corruption agency probes 31 officials over cover-ups of three coal mine accidents.

UK: Coal imports fall 16 per cent in 2014 as profitability of coal-fired power declines.

US: “Really big” fire shuts units at Coyote Station in North Dakota for months.

US: Sierra Club appeals against permit for FutureGen CCS project in Illinois.

“Coal and oil may be cheap ways to power the economy today in the near time. I urge you to do the real, actual far-reaching costs that come along with what some people think is the cheap alternative. For everyone who thinks they can’t do the transition and invest in renewable energy do the real maths,”

said US Secretary of State John Kerry at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changetalks in Lima, Peru.

companies + markets

European coal use keeps on falling: Coal demand in Europe is set to continue to decline through to at least 2019, the IEA estimates. In 2014 German electricity consumption fell by four per cent. “After 2012, coal demand began to decline due to moderate economic growth, energy efficiency gains, increasing renewable energy sources and coal plant retirements,” the IEA stated in its latest review of the global coal market.(Bloomberg)

Australian company cops mini-fine for illegal mining: Tarrawonga Coal, a subsidiary of Whitehaven Coal, illegally mined over 136,000 tonnes more coal than allowed under its licence conditions, according to the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA). The EPA imposed a fine of US$12,300 for the illegal mining even though the extra coal was worth approximately US$8.2 million. “When it comes to environmental regulation, the fines are pathetic,” said Greens NSW mining spokesman Jeremy Buckingham. (NSW Environment Protection Authority, Sydney Morning Herald)

US coal producer to spin off coal assets:Consol Energy, formerly the largest US underground coal producer, plans to create two new companies: one each for its metallurgical and thermal coal mines. Consol plans to float the thermal coal company on the stock exchange early in 2015 and sell a 20 per cent stake in the metallurgical coal subsidiary later in the year. In 2014 Consol sold five mines, which produced half of its thermal coal, to Murray Energy. (Consol Energy, Wall Street Journal)

South Africa calls for coal tender, signs solar deals: The South African Department of Energy has called for private sector bids for up to 2500 MW of coal-fired power supply. Faced with capacity constraints due to major problems with its ageing and poorly maintained coal-fired plants, the department has finalised agreements for 3900 MW of additional capacity from renewables and is hoping to enter into agreement for a further 3600 MW next year. (Bloomberg, Bloomberg)

resources                      take action

How corporations rule: Anglo American’s dirty energy lobby and its false climate solutions, Friends of the Earth International, the Transnational Institute (TNI) and the Corporate Europe Observatory, December 2014. (Pdf)

This report provides an overview of Anglo American’s role in the Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia and its global political lobbying activities.

Coal: Medium-Term Market Report 2014, International Energy Agency, December 2014. (Cost €80 for pdf. The Executive Summary is here.)

While this IEA report reviews the coal industry’s prospects with a pro-coal slant, it none-the-less contains useful data and background information.

Stop coal-based Rampal power plant and save Sundarbans World Heritage Area

350.org has launched a petition to the Bangladesh Power Development Board and the Indian government-owned National Thermal Power Corporation urging they abandon the proposed Rampal power station near the Sundarbans World Heritage site and instead invest in renewable energy. The petition is here.