August 3, 2017
Issue 193  |  View Past Issues

Editor's Note

Coal power’s fall from grace continues. In South Africa, the Treasury is demanding a forensic audit of any payments or gifted trips to Eskom executives involved in deals for the Gupta family companies. In Sri Lanka, the energy regulator has decided there should be no role for new coal plants over the next 20 years. In the US, a leading analyst told a coal industry audience that wind power could displace over 110 million tonnes of coal consumption. In India, a major power industry player warned the dramatic fall in solar prices is piling extra stress onto already stranded assets. To cap it all off India's coal growth is slowing.

While the global coal lobby – representing companies such as Peabody Energy and BHP Billiton – has extolled higher efficiency coal plants as the best way to reduce pollution, the conservative Australian Treasurer, Scott Morrison, bluntly dismissed this by pointing out they cost twice as much as current coal plants. In Europe, crunch time for coal plants is fast approaching, with those not complying with the best pollution control standards facing expensive upgrades or closure.

Bob Burton


Once bitten, twice shy: Sri Lanka dumps new coal plans

In a dramatic U-turn, Sri Lanka’s energy regulator has approved a new long-term electricity supply plan that rejects the construction of any new coal plants between now and 2037, writes Bob Burton in EndCoal.

India coal growth has slowed significantly since 2015

After years of historic coal growth, India has been witnessing a dramatic slowdown in consumption since 2015, writes Ashish Fernandes from Greenpeace in EnergyDesk.

Why are insurers keeping silent on the biggest threat facing the planet?

Insurance companies, many of which insure and invest in coal and other fossil fuel companies, have good reasons to take action against climate change, writes Peter Bosshard in Huffington Post.

Top News

South Africa’s Treasury demands corruption audit as Eskom CFO stood aside: In a report to the South African parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Treasury has reportedly urged the appointment of an audit firm to investigate whether any Eskom executives involved in awarding favourable deals to Tegeta Resources received payments or gifted trips from the controversial Gupta family companies. Eskom’s Chief Financial Officer, Anoj Singh, was suspended last week after the Development Bank of SA warned it would recall its US$1.1 billion loan to the utility unless government ministers took action after the utility received a qualified audit, breaching its loan conditions. (News24, Sunday Times)

World Heritage Committee warns against Bangladesh plant: At its latest meeting UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee urged the Bangladesh Government not to proceed with “any large-scale industrial and/or infrastructure developments” until the completion of a social and environmental assessment. The resolution was directed at the Indian-backed Rampal plant and related infrastructure near the Sundarbans World Heritage site. However, the Bangladesh Government’s energy adviser, Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, downplayed the recommendation, insisted construction of the plant would continue and stated the environmental assessment would be completed in about two years. (BD News24, Daily Star)

Most European plants face costly upgrades or closure: New environmental standards under the European Union’s (EU) Industrial Emissions Directive will force all plants over 50 MW in capacity to comply by 2021 with industry-wide “Best Available Techniques” for the control of emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, mercury and particulate matter. The European Environment Bureau estimates up to 82 per cent of current EU coal capacity fails to meet the standards and faces upgrades which could cost up to US$18.2 billion. It is estimated the new standards will prevent about 20,000 premature deaths a year. (BusinessGreen, European Environment Bureau)

NSW review criticises KEPCO’s proposed Bylong mine: A NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) review of the Bylong coal mine, proposed by the South Korean utility KEPCO, has found there was “incomplete information” about the project. The PAC also found there was “persistent uncertainty about the availability of water resources for the project” as well as for agriculture and other uses. Local landowners have complained KEPCO’s purchase of 13,000 hectares for the mine has caused the rapid depopulation of much of the Bylong Valley and stifled public debate by including clauses in the land purchase contracts gagging sellers from making public comments on the project. (Sydney Morning Herald, Newcastle Herald)

Japanese Environment Minister urges rethink on coal plant: Japan’s Environment Minister, Kouichi Yamamoto, has urged Chubu Electric Power to reconsider its proposal to build a 1070 MW coal plant to replace three old oil-fired units. The Ministry of Environment does not have the power to block the proposal but advises the Ministry of Trade. However, Yamamoto has repeatedly warned Japan is unlike to meet it its Paris Agreement targets if it approves new coal plants. (Reuters, CoalSwarm)

Indian regulator reveals some old coal plants lack space for pollution upgrades: The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has revealed about 13,000 MW of India’s old coal plants may never comply with new pollution standards, originally due to take effect at the end of 2017, as they lack space for pollution control equipment. The CEA has recommended only allowing the plants to operate to cater for peak demand. However, the Ministry for Environment, Forest & Climate Change has the power to shut the plants for not complying with pollution standards. (Reuters)

Report reveals huge health price tag with G20 fossil fuel subsidies: A report by the Health and Environment Alliance estimates the health impacts from burning fossil fuels in the G20 countries amount to US$2.76 trillion, over six times the US$444 billion G20 countries spend subsidising the fossil fuel industry. The report estimates the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies could cut premature deaths from air pollution by 25 per cent in Germany to as much as 75 per cent in Turkey, with the UK, Poland, India, China and South Africa in between. (Climate News Network, Health and Environmental Alliance)

“These new HELE [High Efficiency Low Emissions coal] plants would produce energy at an estimated two and a half times the cost of our existing coal fired power stations. They would also take up to around seven years to set up,”

said Scott Morrison, the Australian Treasurer and member of the conservative Liberal Party of Australia.


Bangladesh: Japanese consortium revives stalled 1200 MW Matabari plant and port.

Botswana: Unable to agree on compensation for farm land for Morupule mine, compulsory acquisition pushed.

Czech Republic: Fire which burned for three days damages 800 MW Detmarovice plant.

Indonesia: Itochu and Hyundai win US$400 million contract for 200 MW expansion of plant in South Kalimantan.

Mongolia: China’s ban on North Korean coal imports spurs quadrupling of Mongolian imports.

Pakistan: Court to hear petition by former Balochistan province MP against Chinese-backed plant at Hub.

US: Leaked draft of Department of Energy report rejects claim renewables growth poses risks to grid.

US: Montana environmental review panel finds flaws in Ramaco Carbon’s proposed Brook Mine plan.

“The lesson from looking at how dispatch looks in the future is that baseload is actually a liability: It is not the great virtue that some would have you believe … The idea of baseload is an idea of the past,”

said [paywall] Kobad Bhavnagri from Bloomberg New Energy Finance in the Australian Financial Review.

“The idea of baseload is an idea of the past” @kobadb @BloombergNEF #coal #energy #renewables

Companies + Markets

Wind to take chunk out of US coal demand: Hans Daniels, the CEO of prominent US consultancy Doyle Trading Consultants, told an American Coal Council conference call that the rapid growth in US wind power capacity “has the potential to take away 125 million tons [113 million tonnes] of coal burn.” Daniels said despite the retirement of many old coal plants, many more are vulnerable to slowing electricity demand and expanding renewables and gas generation. (SNL)

Solar price fall adds extra stress to stranded coal plants: The major Chinese power company, CLP, has noted the rapid price falls in India’s reverse solar auctions is increasing the pressure on stranded coal plants. CLP India’s Managing Director, Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, said state-based distribution utilities only want to buy power from currently stranded coal plants if they could match the latest solar auction price. Mishra predicted existing thermal power plants will come under “severe pressure” when renewables with battery storage becomes competitive. (Economic Times)

India’s coal imports keep falling: India’s coal imports for the April to June quarter have fallen by 8.1 per cent compared to the same period of 2016. Coal India’s production has increased by 54 million tonnes in the last two financial years while imports have fallen by 26.8 million tonnes over the same period. Coal India currently has almost 50 million tonnes of coal stockpiled, accounting for about nine per cent of current annual production. (Economic Times)

Economic consultant warns against risky Adani rail loan: A report by the economic consultancy ACIL Allen has warned a loan from the government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund (NAIF) for Adani’s proposed rail link to Abbot Point coal terminal would be at risk as the security for it would be from as yet unsecured debt and equity. The Australian Government’s economic advisory agency, the Productivity Commission, has also raised concern about the prospect of NAIF funds being used to subsidise Adani’s proposed railway and underwrite a new coal power station. (Sydney Morning Herald, Guardian)

NZ taxpayers cover rehab costs to ease mine privatisation: The New Zealand Government has secretly agreed to spend US$43 million to cover the rehabilitation liabilities of three mines on the environmentally important Buller Plateau. The mines, which were owned by the failed government-owned Solid Energy, have been sold for US$35 million to BT Mining, a joint venture between the Australian sharemarket-listed Bathurst Resources and the New Zealand food company Talley’s. (NewsHub, Forest & Bird)


Hidden Price Tags: How ending fossil fuel subsidies would benefit our health, Health and Environment Alliance, July 2017. (Pdf)

This 61-page report reveals the health costs associated with the burning of fossil fuels in G20 countries are on average over six times higher than the subsidies provided. The report has case studies on China, Germany, India, Poland, South Africa, Turkey and the UK.