June 8, 2017
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A new report by the notoriously cautious International Energy Agency (IEA) has flagged that to meet the Paris Agreement targets of limiting global warming to between 1.5 and two degrees Celsius, coal plants without Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) need to be gone by 2045 or earlier. As the long-running saga of the Kemper CCS plant in Mississippi shows – which crossed the US$7.5 billion mark this week – the prospects of CCS ever being viable with power plants are exceedingly slim.

The IEA argues that in the energy sector energy efficiency and renewables will have to do the heavy lifting to keep global to less than a 2 degrees Celsius increase the 2 degrees scenario. India has become the exemplar of how the renewables revolution can curtail coal, with the state of Uttar Pradesh canning seven proposed coal plants this week. Another 25,000 megawatts (MW) of plants in India are up for sale but buyers are scarce and willing lenders rarer still.

While the cost of alternatives is one driver in the switch away from coal, public pressure is another, as evidenced by a Myanmar state backing away from supporting a new coal plant which had triggered big public protests.

Bob Burton


Will Asia’s new ‘clean, green’ infrastructure bank live up to its early promises?

While the mission of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is to be “lean, green and clean”, coal exporting countries such as Australia are lobbying hard to ensure the energy sector strategy the bank adopts at next week’s meeting in South Korea caters for funding more coal plants, writes Helena Wright in E3G.

Myanmar villagers’ crash course in community values and coal plant pollution

When villagers near Ye in Myanmar’s Mon State were told three years ago a coal plant would be built on their farming land, they quickly turned to research the impacts of coal plants and document the culture and livelihoods of their community, writes Sayan Chuenudomsavad in The Nation.

Top News

IEA says unabated coal power must be gone by 2045 at latest: In its latest Energy Technology Perspectives 2017 report the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates between 1285 gigawatts (GW) and 1330 GW of coal would need to be retired early to keep global warming below a 2 degrees Celsius increase. The current global coal plant capacity is 1965 GW. Under the 2° C scenario the IEA estimates all coal plants without CCS must be phased out by 2045. For the 1.75° C target to be met the IEA estimates all unabated coal generation must be gone by 2040. The Paris Agreement target is to limit the global temperature increase to “well below 2°C” but ideally 1.5°. (CarbonBrief, RenewEconomy)

Indian coal plant plans collapse at a rapid rate: The Uttar Pradesh state government has cancelled power purchase agreements for seven proposed coal plants for failing to comply with their commissioning deadlines. The projects had a combined capacity of 7040 megawatts (MW). A further 25,000 MW of proposed or built coal plants in India have been put up for sale. However, with the costs of coal power rising and renewables falling, there are few buyers for the troubled assets of debt-distressed independent power producers. (Business Standard, Business Standard [paywall])

Uncertainty over fate of Myanmar coal plant: Mass public protests against Toyo-Thai Group’s proposed 1280 MW Ann Din plant in Myanmar’s Mon state has prompted Chief Minister Aye Zan to backtrack on his outspoken support for the project. A local member of Parliament, Myo Win, said that when he asked the government in a June 3 meeting to explain its plans for the coal plant to the community he was told the government was dropping the project. However, local residents are treating the comments with caution as the government’s support for the project has waxed and waned several times. (Eleven, CoalSwarm)

Residents protest against plans for Turkish plant: Residents have objected to the pollution impacts of the 500 MW plant proposed to be built in the Silivri district of Istanbul and affecting the Cerkozkoy district of neighbouring Tekirdag province. The project developer is seeking 1000 hectares of forested land which is an important regional water catchment. The mayor of Cerkozkoy and the Union of Chambers of Engineers and Architects are pursuing legal challenges against the project. (Hurriyet Daily News, CoalSwarm)

South African agency investigates coal deals: Leaked documents have revealed South Africa's Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, commonly referred to as the Hawks, is investigating complaints filed by a number of politicians relating to the business deals of the controversial Gupta family, including its coal operations, as well as former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe and Duduzane Zuma, President Zuma’s son. The Hawks have requested details of financial transactions of seven Gupta companies and others under investigation. (News24, Mail & Guardian)

Adani says it will proceed with Carmichael project but funding still elusive: Adani has announced board approval for the Carmichael coal mine and related infrastructure after the Queensland Government waived the requirement for up to US$370 million royalties on coal until later in the mine life. Despite the theatrics of opening an office for the project in Townsville, Adani Australia has no finance approved for the project and its parent company is looking to sell its Mundra plant in India which has been touted as an importer of coal from the Carmichael project. (Sydney Morning Herald, IEEFA)

“[Adani’s proposed] Carmichael [coal mine], if finally approved and built, may well end up as a game-changer, but not in the way intended. The mine could become the poster child for how coal is now reliant on government largesse, how it can no longer compete against cheaper and cleaner rivals, and how it damages the reputations of anybody brave enough to go near it,”

writes Clyde Russell in Reuters.


Australia: Former NSW Resources Minister Ian Macdonald sentenced to seven years in jail over coal deal.

Bangladesh: Stung by criticism of Sundarbans coal plant, PM directs planting of “artificial” mangroves.

Croatia: Call for Plomin 1 to be closed after fire raises doubt plant will ever operate again.

India: After vowing to address Chhattisgarh tribal mine blockaders’ concerns, Adani presses for legal action.

Malaysia: Fishing industry objects to pollution and net damage from coal ships in Tanjung Kling port.

Russia: Russian Railways signs deal to build 410km rail line to cater for coking coal from Elegest coalfield.

Vietnam: Prime Minister meets Japanese delegation, including J-Power, promoting coal plants.

“The crashing solar tariffs [in India] are creating a mental block for distribution companies and holding them back from signing long-term purchase agreements with conventional power producers,”

said T Adi Babu, chief operating officer for finance at Lanco Infratech, a private Indian power generator.

Companies + Markets

Utility executives see no coal boost after Trump’s Paris withdrawal: President Donald Trump’s announcement the US would withdraw from the Paris Agreement drew widespread condemnation but attracted the support of Murray Energy. Cloud Peak Energy backed the US staying in the Paris Agreement. However, while US metallurgical coal use and exports increased late last year, major utility executives and some coal companies argue domestic thermal coal use will continue to fall as old plants are retired - irrespective of the Trump Administration policies. (Vox, SNL)

South Korea’s coal crackdown takes shape: Just days after imposing an operating ban on eight heavily polluting old coal plants, an adviser to President Moon Jae-in has flagged plans to impose an environmental levy on coal imports and reduce or abolish the tax on imported gas. The government is planning to boost gas and renewable generation but cut coal’s share from 40 per cent to 21.8 per cent by 2030, with imports peaking possibly as early as next year. The fate of nine proposed or part-built coal plants has yet to be determined. (Reuters)

Adani Power avoids ratings agency scrutiny: The Indian ratings company Crisil has complained that Adani Power, which owns the debt-laden 4620 MW Mundra project, was “non-cooperative” when details of the company’s debts were requested. Over the last month shares in Adani Power have slumped by over 17 per cent, almost four times greater than other private India power companies.  Adani Power has reportedly approached the state-owned utility Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam, which has a power purchase agreement for 2000 MW from the plant, to bail-out the project. (Economic Times,  Economic Times)

Kemper CCS plant delayed again, costs climb: Mississippi Power has informed regulators the commissioning of the 582 MW Kemper CCS plant has been further delayed until at least late June and the total cost of the project increased to over US$7.5 billion. Mississippi Power revealed that since its last filing a month ago the total cost of the plant had increased by US$209.4 million - of which consumers could be asked to pay US$23.5 million and shareholders $185.9 million. According to the company, “operational improvement projects” to be undertaken over “the next several years after the plant” is commissioned would cost US$164 million. (US News & World Report, Mississippi Power)

Australian coal ports struggle to refinance debts: Australia’s major banks – which are part of a consortium with debts of US$3 billion on Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal in Queensland – are reportedly wary of refinancing debts on Adani’s Abbot Point coal terminal and the Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group. Adani is looking to refinance its US$1.5 billion debt on the port while US$377 million of the US$2.6 billion on the Newcastle port need to be rolled over. (The Australian [paywall])


Long An Power Plant Petition, 350.org Vietnam, May 2017.

The first petition against a coal plant in Vietnam is calling for the scrapping of a proposed 2800 MW coal plant near Ho Chi Minh City. A video of people around the world who have spoken out against the project is here and a website in Vietnamese here.

Closing coal loopholes: securing a clean energy sector strategy for the AIIB, E3G, June 2017.

This seven-page briefing note identifies the major coal loopholes in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s draft energy sector strategy which need to be closed to enable the bank to achieve its goal of investing in clean infrastructure across Asia.

Financial Supports for Coal and Renewables in Indonesia, International Institute for Sustainable Development, June 2017. (The English report and Executive Summary are here and here and Bahasa Executive Summary here.)

This report documents the subsidies to the coal sector in Indonesia are far greater than to renewables despite the lower total costs of clean energy.