CoalWire 128, April 7, 2016

April 7, 2016

editor’s note

The killing of at least four people protesting against a proposed coal plant in Bangladesh is a sobering reminder that coal’s impacts extend way beyond the pollution that comes from smokestacks. All too often governments enter secretive one-sided deals with coal plant developers that result in the dispossession of farmers and their ability to earn a living. The tragic events in Bangladesh underscore the heavy cost coal imposes on local communities and the need for cleaner and more democratic energy alternatives. Groups in Bangladesh are calling for a complete and independent investigation of this week’s events in order to hold those responsible to account.

Bob Burton
CoalWire Editor

features

A growing movement to save Bangladesh’s Sundarbans

A proposed coal plant near the Sundarbans World Heritage site in Bangladesh has galvanised a grassroots movement to protect the area and promote energy alternatives, write Neha Mathew from the Sierra Club and Soumya Dutta, National Convenor of Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha, in the Sierra Club’s Compass.

Tweet: A growing movement to #SaveSundarbans from #coal sc.org/qWUR3  #Bangladesh #India

Belgium kicks the coal habit

The Langerlo power station has burned its last load of coal – and Belgium has become the seventh country in the European Union with coal-free electricity, writes Mathieu Soete.

Tweet: Belgium kicks #coal addiction, joins six EU countries phasing out coal plants. More to come http://bit.ly/1pZ6sZa #EndCoal

Japan increasingly the odd one out as world moves on from coal

While most major countries are pursuing renewable energy, Japan is increasingly the odd one out as it plans up to 45 new coal plants at home and more around the world, writes Samantha Page in ThinkProgress.

Tweet: #Japan increasingly the odd one out as world moves on from #coal bit.ly/237rza9

“We have tried to explain our project to the public but they are ready to oppose it every time … We don’t get help from the government and people don’t listen. They don’t believe in government policy or what we are doing,”

complained a consultant who is advising a company proposing a coal-fired power project in Myanmar.

top news

Police kill four at protest against Bangladesh coal plant: After police arrested 7 opponents of two China-backed power plants proposed near Chittagong, over 15,000 people gathered to peacefully protest the arrests and the seizure of their land by Bangladeshi conglomerate S. Alam. Subsequently, police opened fire on the protesters killing at least four people, with some reports putting the death toll as high as ten, with 30 injured. Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon has called for an independent inquiry into the actions of the police, and for the cancellation of the proposed coal project. (Dhaka Tribune, Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon)


Assessment of new US port suspended pending tribal rights decision: The environmental assessment of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal in Washington state has been suspended while the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) decides whether to accept the Lummi Tribe’s request to reject a permit for the project. The project affects the tribe’s treaty rights to fishing grounds. SSA Marine requested the suspension and is lobbying USACE to find the port would have little effect on tribal fishing rights. (Bellingham Herald, Oregon Public Broadcasting)


Audit report reveals widespread pollution violations in Indian state: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India has revealed irregular consent was issued to 42 coal-based power and iron plants in Chhattisgarh, with the Chhattisgarh Environment Conservation Board (CECB) failing to ensure compliance with environmental laws. The report found an action plan to address power plant and other pollution in Korba, which is designated a “critically polluted area”, had not been implemented or enforced. (The Hindu)

Review body recommends NSW mine expansion be rejected: The New South Wales Planning Assessment Commission has recommended rejection of expanding the mothballed Russell Vale Colliery, owned by a subsidiary of Jindal Steel & Power. The Commission says “the social and economic benefits of the project as currently proposed are likely outweighed by the magnitude of impacts to the environment.” The proposed expansion of the metallurgical coal mine, beneath part of the water supply catchment for Sydney, has been opposed by the state water utility and environmental groups. (Planning and Assessment Commission, Sydney Morning Herald)


Utility settles Dominican coal ash suit:The global energy utility AES has reached an out-of-court settlement with the families of three Dominican children born without limbs. The children sued the company in 2009 for US$30 million in damages over coal ash pollution. Details of the settlement have not been made public. In 2007 AES paid US$6 million to settle a lawsuit by the Dominican Republic over the alleged illegal dumping of 57,000 tonnes of coal ash from a plant in nearby Puerto Rico. (Bloomberg)


Heatwave to hit power as Indian drought worsens: The Indian Meteorological Department is forecasting April temperatures to be 4-6 °C higher than average in large parts of the country, increasing power demand when drought is curtailing power generation. Power plants in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal have already been closed due to reduced water flows. A PwC analyst suggests water-intensive older and smaller coal units are likely to be shut down first to conserve water. (Economic Times, BBC)

news

Australia: Queensland Gov’t grants Adani mine permits; big financial and legal hurdles remain.


Australia: Kepco and consultant face fraud charges over use of false photos for permit application.


Bangladesh: Draft coal policy promoting major coal developments nears completion.

India: Convicted directors of Jharkhand Ispat sentenced to four years in jail over coal scandal.


US: Kemper CCS plant escalates to US$6.6 billion with more cost overruns and delays to come.


US: Ex- CEO of Massey Energy, Don Blankenship, sentenced to one year in prison over mine disaster.

companies + markets

Financial close on Indonesian plant delayed again: Following protests against the project by villagers who are refusing to sell their land, the Indonesian state electricity utility PLN announced the finalisation of finance for the proposed Batang plant in Indonesia has been delayed again for at least two months. PLN and its joint venture partners Itochu Corporation and J-Power are seeking financial support from Japanese financial institutions for the US$4 billion 2000 MW plant. (Reuters, UCANews)


Vale and Mitsui deal over Mozambique project stalled: Vale’s December 2014 agreement to sell a 15 per cent stake of its Moatize mine to Japanese steelmaker Mitsui for US$450 million has stalled. In February Vale slashed the value of its mine, due to the fall in the coal market, from US$3 billion to US$1.73 billion. The revaluation is believed to have prompted Mitsui to want to renegotiate the purchase price. The mining company is also struggling to attract US$2.7 billion in project financing from Nippon Export and Investment Insurance and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation. (Reuters, Macauhub)


Moody’s flags Indian coal generators to be hit by renewables: Credit analyst Moody’s has cautioned that growing renewable generation will adversely affect Indian companies reliant on fossil fuel generation, and push power plant utilisation rates down. It argues unregulated generators will be affected first but even regulated utilities such as NTPC and Tata Power will face increased risk in the long-term. In the first 11 months of the 2015-16 financial year 35 per cent of new capacity – 7100 megawatts (MW) – was from renewables including hydro. (Moody’s)

Coal India stockpiles grow, NTPC cuts imports: While Coal India’s production in the 2015-16 financial year grew 8.8 per cent to 536 million tonnes, the public sector company’s stockpiles increased further during March to 57 million tonnes. More coal is stockpiled at power plants. India’s largest coal generator, NTPC, announced that despite increased coal-fired generation in 2015-16 it had cut coal imports by over 42 per cent to 9.47 million tonnes. (Business Standard, NTPC)


Standard Chartered and Noble sidelined over Indonesian debt: An Indonesian court has rejected pleas by Standard Chartered and Noble Resources to be included as key creditors of Asmin Koalindo Tuhup (AKT). AKT, a subsidiary of Borneo Lumbung Energi & Metal (BLEM), developed the largest coal mine in Borneo but is struggling to restructure its debts. In 2011 Standard Chartered approved a US$1 billion loan to BLEM and was seeking court approval to be listed as a creditor for US$628 million while the commodities trader Noble is seeking repayment of US$104 million. (Reuters)


Gas oversupply poses risk to coal exports: A February report by a Macquarie Research analyst suggests the current thermal coal spot price could fall a further 20 per cent by 2021. The glut of liquefied natural gas, equal to about 190 million tonnes of coal per annum, could further displace coal in countries with spare gas capacity such as Europe. Macquarie Research noted if significant coal-to-gas switching occurred “coal’s demise might be even more brutal than we currently anticipate.” (MacroBusiness)

resources

“Hundreds of coal plants are still being planned worldwide — enough to cook the planet”, Vox, April 5, 2016.

This article provides a good overview of the recent Boom and Bust: 2016 report, with a particular emphasis on the trends in China and India.

Tweet: Still 100s of new coal plants planned globally. Huge climate question: how many get built? https://t.co/IsEbuOe81r

 

 

“The Roads to Decoupling: 21 Countries Are Reducing Carbon Emissions While Growing GDP”, World Resources Institute, April 5, 2016.

This article examines the increasing number of countries which are cutting greenhouse gas emissions while their economies continue to grow.