CoalWire 120, February 11, 2016

February 11, 2016

editor’s note

Signs abound that the retreat from coal power is accelerating. In the last week there have been two new coal plant closure announcements in the UK and hopeful signs that a new plant in Croatia will not be built. The Norwegian sovereign wealth fund has also reported it has divested from 27 more coal mining and power companies.

Bob Burton
CoalWire Editor


UK coal shutdown accelerates

Two UK power stations will close 3500 megawatts (MW) of coal-fired capacity by mid-year. French energy giant Engie will close the 1000 MW Rugeley power station as falling power prices and increasing carbon costs make it “unviable.” SSE has announced it will close three of the four 500 MW units at its Fiddler’s Ferry plant by April 1 as “substantial losses” were likely to continue to 2020, even with a government subsidy for their role as reserve capacity. The future of the fourth Fiddler’s Ferry unit beyond the winter of 2016/17 is uncertain. (Engie, SSE)

Tweet: Almost half #UK #coal plant capacity to close in 2016

top news

Unhealthy air widespread in India: Data from the Indian Government’s Central Pollution Control Board reveals that half of 24 cities have been ranked as having had ‘poor’ to ‘severe’ air quality for one or more months between September 2015 and January 2016. Air quality in India’s northern cities was two to three times worse than in southern cities. (Times of India)

Norwegian divestment expands: Norges Bank Investment Management, which manages the US$87 billion Norwegian sovereign wealth fund, divested from 16 companies with a significant proportion of coal power generation assets and 11 companies with significant involvement in the mining of thermal coal in 2015. In March the Bank is expected to disclose the full list of companies that they will divest from as a result of last year’s Parliamentary decision to divest from coal. (Investments & Pensions Europe, Norges Bank Investment Management)

Supreme Court ruling delays Clean Power Plan: In a 5-4 vote a majority of the US Supreme Court has agreed to delay the implementation of the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan until a challenge against it before a federal appeals court is resolved. The federal appeals court case is scheduled to be heard on June 2 with a decision due later in the year. The effect of the ruling is to suspend states needing to submit compliance plans or requests for an extension by September. The Obama Administration believes the plan will ultimately survive legal challenges, while the Sierra Club said the practical impact would be marginal as the power industry is already shifting away from coal. (New York Times, Bloomberg)

Croatia backtracks on Plomin C: In a significant political shift the environment minister in Croatia’s new centre-right coalition government has said it is unlikely the proposed 500 megawatt (MW) Plomin C plant will be built.  However, others in the coalition government are believed to support a moratorium on the project in the hope it can be made acceptable to the European Commission. At a March 2015 referendum 94 per cent of respondents voted “no” to the proposed plant. (Total Croatia News, Reuters)

Japan set to back more coal plants: Japan’s Minister for the Environment Tamayo Marukawa has reversed her previous opposition to the construction of new coal plants and agreed with a Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) proposal to develop a greenhouse gas emissions standard for new power plants. There are proposals for 47 new generating units in Japan with a combined capacity of 22,508 MW. The new policy has been criticised by Kiko Network as a “reckless act” which is inconsistent with the country’s climate commitments. (Japan Times, Kiko Network)

Thousands at risk from coal in Philippines: Modelling by Harvard University and Greenpeace estimates 960 premature deaths are caused each year from the country’s existing 13 coal power stations. Current proposals for a further 29 new power plants would increase coal capacity by over 200 per cent. If these plants all proceed the report estimates premature deaths may increase to 2410 a year. (Greenpeace & HealthJustice)


Bangladesh: Geological Survey begins exploration for new coal mine in Tajpur, Naogaon district.

India: National Green Tribunal seeks regulator’s submissions on pollution from Talabira-1 mine in Odisha.

Myanmar: Monks invited to tour Thailand cement plant in bid to allay coal pollution concerns.

UK: Study shows health effects of air pollution last for decades after exposure.

US: Legal group seeks end of Peabody Energy’s US$92 million self-bonding on three Illinois mines.

US: Coal falls to 34 per cent, lowest share of US power generation since data first collected in 1949.

companies + markets

Adani tells analyst Carmichael coal on backburner: On the same day the Queensland Government granted environmental approval for Adani’s Carmichael mine an analyst from Axis Capital was told by the company that further investment in the project would be “dependent on visibility of revival in global coal prices.” The analyst was told there would be no capital expenditure on the project in the next financial year. The analyst included a stock price estimate based on a scenario in which Adani’s investment in the mine was written off. (Guardian, RenewEconomy)

India approves major mine expansion, despite pollution: Despite ongoing controversy over air and water pollution the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has approved a 7.25 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) expansion of South Eastern Coalfields Ltd (SECL) Kusmunda mine in Chhattisgarh. SECL, a Coal India subsidiary, had sought permission to expand the mine to 50 Mtpa but MoEF has conditionally approved the first phase of the expansion. MoEF has left open the option for further expansion. Coal India is seeking to increase production from about 550 million tonnes this year to 1 billion tonnes by 2020. (Moneycontrol)

Duke Energy fined for US coal ash disaster: North Carolina environmental regulators have fined Duke Energy US$6.6 million over the collapse of a coal ash dam at a disused power station. The dam spilled 35,000 tonnes of coal ash and over 100 million litres of contaminated water into the Dan River. The Southern Environmental Law Center said despite the fine, coal ash continued to be stored in 32 unlined ponds at 14 current or closed power plants in the state. (, ClimateProgress)

Spain seeks to stave off mine closures with subsidies: In a bid to prop up domestic thermal coal production, which is being undermined by falling international coal prices, the Spanish Government is seeking European Commission approval for the provision of further mine subsidies until 2018. Spain had agreed to end subsidies for uneconomic coal production in 2014 but is now claiming cheaper coal imports risk undermining an orderly program of mine closures. (Platts)

Polish coal struggles to survive: Kompania Weglowa, a government-owned coal company and the largest hard coal producer in Europe, has warned it needs US$178 million from new investors by the end of March to continue operating. Polish coal production is struggling in the face of rising costs while coal-fired power producers are being squeezed by increasing renewable generation and falling wholesale prices. (Reuters, ICIS)

China cuts coal freight rate: China Railway Corporation has cut the regulated coal freight rate which could amount to a 10 per cent cut of railway companies revenues but provide some limited relief to domestic coal producers. Despite coal comprising a substantial proportion of railway freight, the Chinese Government has flagged the need to cut at least 500 million tonnes of coal production over the next three to five years. (South China Morning Post, Bloomberg)


“Japan green lights new, soon to be stranded, coal assets”, The Tree, February 9, 2016.

This backgrounder provides a wealth of perspectives and links to resources on the Japanese Government’s decision to press ahead with more coal plants.

Tweet: Tree Alert: #Japan green lights new, soon to be stranded, #coal assets

Implications of New Regulations for Water Consumption of Thermal Power Plants, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, February 8, 2016. (Pdf) (An Executive Summary is available here as a Pdf.)

This report provides a detailed analysis of the likely implications of the new water consumption standards announced in December for coal power stations in India. If enforced, the standards will require the retrofitting of old plants and changes in the management of coal ash.



Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE), February 2016. (Pdf) (An Executive Summary is available here.)

This 158-page report contains a detailed analysis of the transformation of the US energy sector with a major emphasis on electricity. As the BCSE includes Carbon Capture and Storage and gas in its definition of sustainable energy the report also includes data on these.