Coal to crypto: The gold rush bringing bitcoin miners to Kentucky
With its fossil fuel-heavy energy supply, Kentucky produces more greenhouse gas emissions from cryptocurrency mining than any other US state, writes Avi Asher-Schapiro for the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Forest tribal people oppose backflip approving more Adani coal mining in India
In a controversial decision that will benefit the Adani Group to the detriment of tribal forest-dwellers, leaders of the Indian states of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh have sanctioned the clearance of forests to expand an Adani coal mine, writes a special correspondent in Adani Watch.
Coal-powered industrial parks test Indonesia’s climate pledges – and China’s too
The development of Chinese-backed coal-fired industrial parks is proceeding to cater for new mineral processing plants despite pledges to end support for international coal plants, writes Ian Morse in China Dialogue.
South Africa: Kwa-Zulu Natal community fights coal mine expansion
The residents of a rural mining community in the south accuse a coal company planning to expand its coal mine of gross pollution and causing health hazards that threaten their lives, writes Thabi Myeni in Al Jazeera.
Queensland Government blocks proposed coal mine
Faced with strong community opposition, the Queensland Minister for Resources, Scott Stewart, has refused to grant a mineral development licence for Fox Resources for a potential coal mine near Bundaberg. Stewart noted “significant adverse community sentiment” over the impacts of a possible coal mine on the environment and agricultural lands. “Fox has not adequately demonstrated to me they can resolve or offset the public’s concern,” he said. Farmers objected to the likely impacts on farmland and water supplies. Environmental groups said the project would have affected the turtle nesting grounds at Mon Repos. The Lock the Gate Alliance called on the government to amend the state’s planning laws to exclude mining exploration licences from being allowed on prime agricultural land and other priority areas. (Queensland Government, Lock the Gate)
UN climate report points to the need for a rapid decline in coal generation: The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates global unabated coal generation will need to fall by 76 per cent by 2030 to stay on track with the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement. The IPCC says that limiting warming to 2°C or below will “require cancellation of new coal power projects and accelerated retirement of existing coal plants”. The report estimates global greenhouse gas emissions need to peak before 2025 and fall by 43 per cent by 2030. They also estimate that methane emissions need to be reduced by about one-third by 2030. Coal mines are a significant source of methane emissions. (CarbonBrief, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)
European Union proposes a ban on Russian coal imports: The European Commission has proposed to ban Russian coal imports, which are estimated to be worth €4 billion (US$4.4 billion). The commission has also proposed extending sanctions on four Russian banks to cover all transactions and a ban on exports of specific products such as semiconductors and high-end computers, which its industrial sector requires. The European Commission estimates about 45 per cent of the EU coal imports come from Russia. (Bloomberg, European Commission)
US court rules against Montana mine expansion: Two US Court of Appeals judges have ruled that the Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining (OSM) breached the National Environmental Policy Act in 2018 when it approved Signal Peak Energy’s proposed expansion of the Bull Mountains coal mine in Montana. A coalition of environmental groups challenged the OSM’s decision because it failed to adequately consider the greenhouse gas emissions from the proposed expansion, which would produce about 175 million US short tons (159 million tonnes) of coal over 11 years. Judge Morgan Christen said the department “did not account for the emissions generated by coal combustion, obscuring and grossly understating the magnitude of the mine expansion’s emissions relative to other domestic sources of greenhouse gas emissions.” As a result of the ruling, the OSM will have to reconsider the proposal to expand the mine. (S & P Global, Sierra Club)
Executive of US coal company charged over bribes for Egyptian officials: The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has charged a former Vice-President of Corsa Coal Corporation executive, Charles Hunter Hobson, with seven counts of breaching the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, laundering funds, and receiving kickbacks. The DOJ alleges that between late 2016 and early 2020, Hobson engaged in a scheme to pay over US$4.8 million to an Egyptian contact who used part of the money to bribe officials at the Egyptian state-owned Al Nasr Company for Coke and Chemicals in return for US$143 million in coal contracts. The DOJ alleges Hobson arranged to skim off part of the commission paid to the Egyptian sales agent as a kickback. Corsa operates metallurgical coal mines in Pennsylvania and Maryland and made international sales to Egypt and Turkey. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, US Department of Justice)
Secret government negotiations with Adani over endangered finch plan: Internal Queensland Government documents have revealed that Adani and government officials began to secretly draft a new management plan for the endangered black-throated finch without consulting specialist independent scientists. The original conditions for Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, which will destroy or affect up to 16,000 hectares of the bird’s remaining habitat, included a requirement that “all revisions of the survey and monitoring program must be carried out in consultation with the BTF [black-throated finch] recovery team.” Birdlife Australia said the documents revealed that Adani had “sidelined” independent scientists. They also said the Department of Environment and Science had not enforced Adani’s obligation to consult with the black-throated finch recovery team. Adani said it would consult with others interested in the plan “in due course”. (Guardian)
Macedonian Government approves mine not included in country’s energy plan: Despite the commitment to phasing out coal power generation by 2027, the Macedonian Government has approved a proposal by ESM to proceed with the Zivojno open-cast lignite mine. The proposed three-million-tonnes-per-year project would expand the Brod-Gneotino coal mine, which supplies the Bitola power station. The decision comes as the government has yet to finalise its national energy plan for 2040. Eco-sense, a Macedonian environmental group, condemned the decision as a knee-jerk response to challenges experienced with winter power supplies. Eco-sense said the government should focus on implementing a just transition strategy to support phasing out existing lignite operations rather than approving new mines. (Ekos-Vest/Eco-sense [Macedonian], Global Energy Monitor)
Netherlands power utility backtracks on closure deal: Onyx Power, a Dutch power utility owned by US-based private equity firm Riverstone Holdings, has reneged on an agreement with the government to close the 800 megawatt (MW) Maasvlakte coal plant in Rotterdam in return for €212.5 million (US$233 million). Under the terms of the deal announced in November 2021, Onyx Power agreed to close the plant within two months and demolish the plant within three years. Rob Jetten, the Minister for Climate and Energy Policy, expressed disappointment with the decision stating it “is bad for the climate.” Onyx Power’s plant is one of four remaining plants in the Netherlands, which are slated for closure by 2030. The government has said one of the plants will have to close far earlier than 2030 to meet national climate targets. (Reuters)
“I cannot remember a time when we could breathe fresh air in this area. I am not exaggerating. If it is not the scary explosions that break our windows, it is the dust killing our crops and giving us black water,”
said Makhosi Ndwandwa, who lives close to the Tendele coal mine in South Africa.
Australia: NSW law provides for up to two years in jail and a A$22,000 fine for climate protests disrupting transport infrastructure.
Australia: Arrow Energy – a joint venture between Shell and PetroChina – has been fined A$1 million (US$750,000) for drilling coal seam gas wells under farmers’ land without notification.
Australia: The Land Court of Queensland has agreed to hear First Nations’ objections to the proposed Waratah Coal Project in the Galilee Basin on their home country.
Australia: Two coal companies are seeking leave to appeal to the High Court over Adani’s operation of the Abbot Point coal terminal.
Finland: Greenpeace activists block [Finnish] the unloading of a shipment of Russian coal at the 160 MW Salmisaari coal-fired power plant in Helsinki.
Russia: Due to the impact of sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Evraz, a major Russian steelmaker, has dropped its plan to spin off its coal assets.
Serbia: Eight miners have been killed and 18 injured in an accident at the Soko coal mine.
Sri Lanka: Government approves the purchase of 120,000 tonnes of discounted Russian coal.
Vietnam: Government seeks thermal coal cargoes from South Africa and Australia to make up for a shortfall in domestic production and market disruptions from Russian sanctions.
Zimbabwe: Initial production begins at Contango’s Lubu Coking Coal Project.
“Climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals. But the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels. Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness,”
said Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, on the launch of the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Zimbabwe coal projects lose Chinese backing: The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has ruled out support for major coal projects in Zimbabwe but confirmed it would back renewable energy projects. Rio Energy had proposed the construction of the 2800 MW Sengwa plant and associated coal mine with the backing of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and China Minsheng Banking Corporation. In mid-2021, ICBC told local NGOs it would not support the Sengwa plant, reflecting the shift of the Chinese Government away from backing new coal plants. Another consortium, PER Lusulu Power, proposed the 2100 MW Lusulu coal plant in 2015 and aimed to attract financial backing, but this too seems to have faded. (Reuters)
Japanese banks tighten coal mining financing restrictions: Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group has announced that it will no longer finance new and expanded thermal coal mines and coal-related infrastructure such as ports and railways from May this year. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group announced it will no longer finance new thermal coal mining projects and will only cease support for coal power plants by 2040. (Nikkei Asia)
Cost of proposed US CCS plant rises by a third: Minnkota Power Cooperative (MPC) has increased the estimated cost of its proposed carbon capture and storage (CCS) project at the Milton R. Young Station by 45 per cent to US$1.45 billion. The MPC blamed the jump in its estimate on global supply chain problems. MPC is seeking US$150 million in low-interest loans from North Dakota’s Clean Sustainable Energy Authority to build a CCS plant to capture 90 per cent of the emissions from one of the 257 MW lignite-fired units at the plant. The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis has warned there are significant financial risks with the project, which could lead to far higher costs for the ratepayers of the cooperatives that purchase power from MPC. (InfoForum)
Poland pitches to extend coal plants beyond 2049: The Polish Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin said during a meeting with miners in Katowice that it wants to continue to operate coal plants beyond its previously announced end date of 2049. In 2020 the Polish Government agreed with mining unions to close the last thermal coal mine in 2049. Now Sasin said he wanted to extend the life of coal plants to provide greater energy security. Last year the European Commission proposed a 55 per cent reduction in region-wide emissions by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Poland, which borders Ukraine and has proposed a ban on Russian coal imports, has long resisted the EU’s climate and pollution reduction plans. (BloombergQuint)
Indian state cancels expensive Adani shipments: Andhra Pradesh cancelled two tender bids by Adani Enterprises, India’s largest coal trader, to supply 500,000 tonnes of South African coal in February at 40,000 rupees ($526.50) per tonne and another 750,000 tonnes shipment in January at 17,480 rupees ($230.08) per tonne. The shipments were cancelled because the price was too high. The Indian financial services firm ICRA estimates imported coal prices will rise 45–55 per cent in the next quarter. The cancellations come as surging power demand has seen stockpiles at state-owned utilities decline to 22 per cent of the mandatory level. Reserves below 25 per cent are classed as being at a “critical” level. (Reuters, Reuters, Indian Express)
India is set to fall short of its 2022 renewables target: Bloomberg New Energy Forum (BNEF) estimates India will fall well short of its 2022 target of 175,000 MW of renewables capacity, with solar and wind to account for 160,000 MW. BNEF estimates solar and wind capacity could be just over one-third lower than the target, mainly due to the stressed financial position of state-owned distribution utilities. The distribution utilities often lack the financial capacity to buy enough power from generators to meet demand or pay producers on time. BNEF estimates up to a quarter of wind projects awarded to project developers after auctions have failed to progress further due to problems getting power offtake agreements with the distribution utilities. (Bloomberg)
US 2022 Power Sector Outlook: The Renewable Energy Transition Takes Off, Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis, April 2022. (Pdf) (The media release is here.)
This 29-page report provides a detailed overview of the significant trends in the US power sector and notes major coal-heavy utilities, such as Georgia Power, Duke Energy and the Tennessee Valley Authority, are planning to shift to renewable sources by 2035.