November 10, 2016
Issue 158  |  View Past Issues
CoalWire

Editor's Note

Donald Trump’s election as US President is likely to have a big – though at this stage difficult to quantify – impact on both US domestic energy policy and implementation of the Paris Agreement. Stay tuned for further updates.

The air pollution crisis gripping India’s capital city, New Delhi, may well prove to be a pivotal moment in driving tougher pollution standards on coal plants in India. Just last week the Central Electricity Agency was backing away from the introduction of tough new pollution standards on coal plants scheduled to come into effect in December 2017 due to pressure from private power producers. This week the New Delhi government temporarily shut a coal plant for 10 days and the Supreme Court has ordered the Modi Government to develop a plan in two days to cut the city’s air pollution.  

Meanwhile, China has outlined plans to cancel or delay at least 150,000 megawatts (MW) of new coal plants. In Papua New Guinea the government power utility, which has acknowledged the country’s obligations under the Paris Agreement, has expressed wariness towards an unsolicited proposal for a small coal plant. In Jamaica, a petition urging the government to honour its obligations under the Paris Agreement  and reject a proposed 1000 MW plant, attracted over 21,000 signatures in a little over two weeks.

Bob Burton

Features

Why China is aiming low on renewables in its new five year plan

China’s low-ball estimates on future wind and solar growth in its next five-year power plan may be designed to pacify the country’s coal lobby, writes Lauri Myllyvirta from Greenpeace in EnergyDesk.

New coal technology won't solve climate woes

The World Coal Association’s claim “high efficiency, low emissions” power plants will allow Indonesia to build more coal plants and also meet its international commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions “is simply false”, writes David de Jager from the consultancy Ecofys in the Jakarta Post.

Chinese-backed coal plant jeopardises Kenya climate target

Local communities are set to lodge an appeal against the environmental permit for a US$2 billion Chinese-backed coal plant in Kenya near the World Heritage listed town of Lamu, writes Lou Del Bello in Climate Home.

Top News

Indian court orders plan within two days to curb Delhi pollution: The Supreme Court has ordered the national government to develop a plan within two days to combat New Delhi’s air pollution crisis. Air pollution reached up to 90 times higher than World Health Organisation recommended levels earlier in the week, prompting the municipal government to impose a range of restrictions including a 10-day shutdown of the Badarpur coal plant. However, at least another five plants in adjoining states are significant contributors, with new coal plants accounting for much of the increase in air pollution in recent years. (Financial Express, Hindustan Times)

Trump aims to reshape US energy policy: In his ‘100-Day Action Plan’ Donald Trump promised that as US President he will cancel the Paris Agreement, stop payments to the United Nations for “global warming programs”, “save the coal industry” and eliminate restrictions on the energy industry. The Republicans have also retained control of both the House of Representatives and Senate and will get to appoint a judge to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Trump will be inaugurated as President on January 20, 2017. (Donald Trump, Vox, The Tree)

China cans some plants but limits cuts: China’s new five-year power industry plan proposes the cancellation or delay of at least 150 gigawatts (GW) of coal plants between 2016 and 2020, but set the cap for coal plant capacity at 1100 GW, 190 GW higher than present. The target for wind generation has been set at “more than” 210 GW, slightly lower than the combined capacity of the 140 GW in operation and the 80 GW under construction. The target for solar capacity has been set to continue at the current record installation rate. While Greenpeace described the plan as “disappointing,” targets for renewables have been previously increased mid-plan. (Reuters, Greenpeace)

Papua New Guinea wary of power plant plan: PNG Power – a Papua New Guinea government-owned power company – has distanced itself from an unsolicited proposal by an Australian company, Mayur Resource Development, for a 50 MW coal plant in Lae. “PNG Power is not venturing into any coal fired power station,” said Chris Bais, the company’s CEO. Bais also acknowledged that as the PNG Government is a party to the Paris Agreement it has international obligations to limit greenhouse gas emissions and support renewable energy. (EMTV, EMTV)

Opposition grows to Jamaican power plant: In just over two weeks 21,000 people signed a petition launched by the Jamaica Environment Trust objecting to a proposed new coal plant in Jamaica. In July 2016 it was reported that China-based Jiuquan Iron & Steel was acquiring the Alpart bauxite plant in Nain with the aim of expanding the alumina refinery to be powered by a new 1000 MW coal plant. The petition calls on the Jamaican Government to abide by its commitments under the Paris Agreement, which it signed in April 2016. (Jamaica Observer, CoalSwarm)

Finland ponders coal power ban: Finland’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Olli Rehn, has flagged he is considering proposing the country’s energy plan be amended to ban all coal power stations by 2030 when it is considered by parliament later this month. The proposal has yet to be put to other members of the multi-party government. Coal accounted for 7 per cent of Finland’s electricity generation in 2015. (Reuters)

Vietnamese plant operating without permits: When approved in 2009 Electricity of Vietnam’s 1245 MW Duyen Hai 1 Thermal Power Plant in Tra Vinh Province was required to store waste fly ash in dams. However, since being commissioned in early 2015 the coal ash has been stored in dry landfill due to a lack of water and available land. The plant is also dumping 4.8 million cubic metres of wastewater per day into the ocean, never having been given permits for water use or disposal. (Tuoi Tre News)

“Giving up coal is the only way to reach international climate goals,”
said Olli Rehn, Finland’s Minister of Economic Affairs.

News

Botswana: Government hopes to sell faulty 600 MW Chinese-built plant commissioned in 2012.

Germany: Draft climate plan flags no new coal plants or mine expansions, and emissions reduction targets.

Pakistan: Villagers demand relocation of mine wastewater dam away from farmlands.

Philippines: Police block citizens’ protest against proposed 900 MW Sual plant.

Companies + Markets

Indian coal imports fall as high prices hit power companies: India’s coal imports in October were on a par with September levels but down over 13 per cent on the same time in 2015. India Ratings and Research, a ratings agency, has warned the 60 per cent increase in imported coal prices between April and October will have a significant impact on distribution utilities and independent power producers which can’t pass the higher costs through. (Economic Times, Economic Times)

Australian unions call for ‘just transition’ agency: The Australian Council of Trade Unions – the peak unions group – has called for the establishment of a government agency to guide the implementation of ‘just transition’ strategies for coal communities and regions which will be affected by the closure of aging coal power stations. The release of the discussion paper represents a significant shift in the union movement’s position on renewable energy transition. (Guardian, ACTU)

Kemper CCS plant nears US$7 billion with more delays: The full commissioning of Mississippi Power’s 582 MW Kemper Carbon Capture and Storage plant has been delayed until at least the end of the year due to technical problems with its coal ash removal system on one of the boilers. The delay will add a further US$25 million cost to the US$6.991 billion of the Kemper plant. If the plant is not commissioned until next year the company would be forced to repay US$250 million in tax benefits. (The Clarion-Ledger, Mississippi Power)

Greece manoeuvres for EU subsidies for new lignite plants: Greece is making headway with a push to gain US$1.9 billion in free carbon allowances for two proposed lignite plants with a combined capacity of 1100 MW. A decision of the European Parliament’s industry committee to support Greece’s exemption from paying for carbon emissions has raised alarm at the abuse of a scheme intended to allow poor countries to transition to lower-carbon energy sources. Greece’s push hinges on whether it gains support from the environment committee in December and a plenary of the European Parliament in February. (Guardian)

Indonesia’s Adaro angles for Thai deal: Indonesian coal company Adaro Energy is negotiating to sell 12 per cent of its Adaro Indonesia subsidiary to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT).  Adaro is hoping the deal will result in it becoming the coal supplier to a proposed “big coal-fired power plant” in southern Thailand. EGAT is lobbying hard for two plants in southern Thailand: the 800 MW Krabi plant and the 2000 MW Thepha plant. (Jakarta Post)

Resources

2016: Year in Review, Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis, November 2016. (Pdf)

This 37-page report provides an overview of the accelerating shift towards renewable power and the growing risk that companies sponsoring new coal plants will be left holding stranded assets.

Energy, Climate Change and Environment: 2016 insights, International Energy Agency, November 2016. (Pdf)

This 133-page report includes a chapter on coal and gas power sectors and argues coal power should be phased out by 2050 – and 2035 in OECD countries – to remain consistent with limiting global warming to a 2-degrees Centigrade increase.

State of Capture, Public Protector, November 2016. (Pdf)

This 355-page investigation report by South Africa’s Public Protector details favourable decisions by Eskom to award coal supply contracts to a company associated with the controversial Gupta family which also involved President Zuma’s son.