June 8, 2023
Issue 469  |  View Past Issues
Published by Global Energy Monitor

Editor's Note

The German government’s proposal to subsidise a switch away from coal for the country’s steel sector is yet another indicator of growing pressure on metallurgical coal producers. In Canada, Teck Resources – the world’s second-largest metallurgical coal exporter – is pondering how to offload some of its coal business in a way that keeps some financial benefits. Earlier this year, the company proposed to spin off its coal division. The aim was to keep the door open for financial institutions interested in funding its proposed copper expansions without running afoul of policies restricting support for companies with coal interests.

Many news outlets recently ran headlines that India’s latest power development plan includes a ban on new coal plant proposals until 2027. However, the devil is in the detail. The new plan assumes 25,580 megawatts (MW) of new coal capacity will be commissioned by the end of that period. It also touts an almost equivalent amount of new coal capacity by 2032. There is a long history of Indian coal proposals faltering, but the plan indicates the intention to push many currently stalled projects forward. The plan also outlines the intent to produce over a billion tonnes of coal a year by 2032, a goal that implies enormous impacts on communities struggling to preserve access to forests, land and water. Adani Group companies are likely to be a big beneficiary of the proposed expansion of coal mining. The company remains a constant source of controversy over conflicts with local communities and governance standards.

Bob Burton


How an insurance professional helped stop a massive coal mine

Tony Coleman, a Munich Reinsurance director and actuary for Australia and New Zealand who provided advice on the costs of allowing the Waratah Coal mine in Queensland to proceed, said many of his insurance industry colleagues were pleased with the judgment ruling against the project, writes Daniel Wood in Insurance Business.

Desperate families displaced by Adani’s Suliyari coal mine struggle to get lawful compensation

Many of the 1300 households set to be displaced by the Adani-operated Suliyari coal mine in Madhya Pradesh have struggled to gain compensation for their losses and face poverty without access to the forests, writes Ayaskant Das in Adani Watch.

India cracks down on critics of coal

Documents reveal government anger over the opposition of Indian NGOs and their international allies to the project of a powerful ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, write Gerry Shih, Karishma Mehrotra and Anant Gupta in the Washington Post.

As the toxic legacy of opencast coal mining in Wales shows, operators get the profits, and the public get the costs

Across the UK, fossil fuel companies’ broken promises have left scarred and polluted landscapes, and no one has been held accountable, writes George Monbiot in the Guardian.

Top News

US utility retires Virginia coal plant: Dominion Energy Virginia will close the last two coal units at its Chesterfield plant in Virginia at the end of June. The two units, which have a combined capacity of 1032 MW, have been operating since 1964 and 1969, respectively. In 2018 Dominion Energy first outlined its intention to retire the units in 2023. After the closure of the coal units at Chesterfield, Dominion Energy will still have three coal plants with a combined capacity of 3119 MW. In its latest integrated resource plan filed with regulators on May 1, Dominion Energy did not foreshadow the retirement of any other generation capacity over the 15-year planning period. (S & P Global)

Italy eyes bringing coal exit forward by a year if gas prices remain cheap: Italy’s Minister of Environment and Energy Security, Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, has flagged the possibility that the country’s coal plants could close in 2024, but only if gas prices remain low. Italy plans to close all coal plants by 2025. In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its impact on gas volumes and prices, Italian coal generation increased from 4.6 per cent in 2021 to 7.5 per cent in 2022. According to the Global Coal Plant Tracker, Italy has seven operating coal plants with a combined capacity of 6470 MW. The right-wing Meloni coalition government plans to unveil its updated energy and climate strategy later this month, but it is likely to proposing replacing coal capacity with increased reliance on gas and renewables generation growing from a third to two-thirds by 2030. (Reuters)

Vietnam arrests another climate leader: Just weeks after finalising its power development plan details with US$15.5 billion from the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP), police have arrested another leading environmentalist on tax changes. Last year Hoang Thi Minh Hong, a leading climate advocate, shut down Change, a group she founded in 2013, as Vietnam’s crackdown on civil society leaders intensified. Hong’s last tweet was on May 15, celebrating the release of Nguy Thi Khanh, who had been imprisoned for over a year on tax charges. Three other climate and civil society leaders – Mai Phan Loi, Dang Dinh Bach, and Bach Hung Duong – remain imprisoned. In her Tweet, Hong wrote, “I wonder if the gov will consider the same favour for the other three while working toward Just Energy Transition”. Her arrest was condemned by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Marta Hurtado. Phil Robertson from Human Rights Watch said the crackdown on leading climate advocates “should prompt serious concerns among the US, European Union, and other governments who are lining up to provide resources to Vietnam’s climate change programs.” (Guardian, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights)

Australian coal companies lowball emissions estimates before approval: Researchers have revealed major coal mining companies have underestimated pollution emissions in the project proposal and then overestimated them to set emissions baselines under the Australian government’s Safeguards Mechanism. Under the Safeguards Mechanism, companies must purchase carbon credits or pay penalties if emissions exceed an agreed baseline. In 2015 Whitehaven Coal estimated emissions from its Narrabri coal mine would emit an average of about 133,330 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, but in 2021-22 disclosed more than 519,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. However, it will face no penalties for the discrepancy. Under the Safeguards Mechanism, Whitehaven Coal’s annual baseline was set at over 1.1 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually, allowing it to pollute up to that level without penalty. The greenhouse gas emissions from Anglo American’s Grosvenor mine in Queensland are 143 per cent higher than the 542,000 tonnes a year in its original proposal, but the project’s baseline was set at 3.3 million tonnes a year. The Department of Climate Change, Environment and Water said the baseline would be calculated differently in the future, but it is unknown what methodology will be adopted. (ABC News)

Court case over Australian environment minister’s coal mine decision: The Environment Council of Central Queensland (ECoCeQ) has launched a Federal Court proceeding seeking judicial review of the decision of the federal Minister for Environment, Tanya Plibersek, to allow MACH Energy’s Mount Pleasant mine and Whitehaven Coal’s Narrabri Coal mine expansion to proceed to the next stage of environmental assessment. Last year ECoCeQ requested Plibersek reconsider the climate impacts from 19 coal and gas proposals on 2121 nationally significant species, places and ecological communities. In mid-May, Plibersek rejected ECoCeQ’s request. The group has requested the court determine that the minister’s decision not to reconsider the climate impacts of the projects was illogical, irrational and unlawful. (SBS, Environment Justice Australia)

Ohio legislature to vote on bill to reverse coal plant subsidies: Fifty members of the Ohio state legislature have co-sponsored a bill to repeal the scandal-tainted HB 6 legislation requiring electricity consumers to subsidise two old coal plants. HB 6 was passed after a US$61 million campaign backed by former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder to legislate a US$1.3 billion subsidy for two nuclear plants owned by FirstEnergy. The bill was expanded to subsidise the coal plants and gut the state’s renewable energy targets and energy efficiency programme. In March, Householder was found guilty of participating in a racketeering conspiracy but has yet to be sentenced. The bill to repeal HB 6 would repeal the coal plant subsidy and require Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (OVEC), which owns the plants, to repay the estimated US$400 million in subsidies paid to date. OVEC’s main shareholders are American Electric Power Company, Duke Energy and AES Ohio. (News5 Cleveland)


Australia: Queensland Government-owned Stanwell Corporation has been fined A$263,400 (US$173,700) by the Australian Energy Regulator over unauthorised settings on three coal units that contributed to blackouts after the May 2021 explosion at the Callide coal plant.

China: China Energy has commissioned a 500,000 tonnes a year carbon capture plant at its 4000 MW Taizhou coal-fired power plant in Jiangsu province.

India: Meghalaya High Court castigated the state government for failing to take action to block the export of illegally mined coal from the state.

US: The Department of Justice has sued West Virginia Governor Jim Justice’s companies over US$7.6 million in unpaid environmental fines and overdue fees.

Companies + Markets

Germany unveils plan to subsidise technology switch for steel sector: Germany has announced a plan to provide up to €50 billion (US$53.4 billion) in subsidies over 15 years to companies in energy-intensive industries to transition to lower emissions technologies. The plan would include support for the coal-intensive steel industry, which accounts for about 30 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions from Germany’s industrial sector. The concept is to allocate funding via a competitive auction process with subsidies to steel producers based on the cost difference between traditional blast furnace production and “green” steel. The proposal will require the approval of the European Union. (Bloomberg [Paywall], ESG Today)

South African commission urges focus on renewables: The Presidential Climate Commission, a multi-disciplinary advisory body established in 2020 by President Cyril Ramaphosa, has recommended South Africa update its Integrated Resource Plan to target the installation of 50-60,000 MW of renewables by 2030. The commission, which has undertaken extensive public consultation on the power sector and a just transition, concluded “there are no scenarios where the cost-optimal solution is building new or refurbishing existing coal-fired power plants.” The commission estimated ending load shedding requires the addition of between 4-8000 MW each year for the next two to four years, along with investment in transmission grid upgrades. The commission found no role for new nuclear capacity in South Africa’s energy mix. It concluded that expanding renewables and retiring coal plants would require investment in storage and 3-5000 MW of peaking capacity such as “low utilisation gas”. The report also notes that after the government abolished the 100 MW cap on private power plants, an estimated 9000 MW of power capacity has been proposed. (Mail & Guardian, Presidential Climate Commission [Pdf])

South African minister confirms corruption problem in Eskom: South Africa’s Minister of Electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, has confirmed that corruption in Eskom “is a major part of what is confronting us” as the government aims to address the load shedding. Ramokgopa said delays in returning some units to service was due to connections between organised crime and elements in Eskom’s procurement division. He said Eskom officials “keep rerunning the procurement process until the guy close to them is ready”, extending the duration of outages. Ramokgopa said he would seek Treasury approval to allow Eskom to purchase major machinery spares directly from original equipment suppliers such as General Electric or Siemens. Analysts have also expressed concern that Ramokgopa’s role in selecting new power generation sources may be frustrated by Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe retaining key powers in procuring new capacity. Mantashe has been widely criticised for delaying tenders for new renewables capacity. (News24, News24)

Final Indian energy plan backs big expansions of coal and renewables: The final power generation plan for 2022-2027 by India’s Central Electricity Authority (CEA) assumes that 25,580 MW of coal plants will be commissioned over the 2022-27 period. Most of the coal plants identified as likely to be commissioned in the current period are projects that are either under construction or in financial distress. The CEA envisage a further 25,480 MW of coal capacity being commissioned over the 2027-32 period. At the end of 2022, India’s power sector included 203,775 MW of coal plants and 6620 MW of lignite power stations, with the CEA estimating this will increase to 235,133 MW by 2026-27 and 259,643 MW by 2032. The CEA estimates coal demand for the power sector could increase to 866 million tonnes by 2026-27 and 1026 million tonnes by 2032, with an additional 29 million tonnes of imported thermal coal. Over the ten years to 2032, the CEA estimate India could install 310,570 MW of solar and 81,537 MW of wind capacity. (AP News, Central Electricity Authority [Pdf])

Adani auditor highlights uncertainty over transactions: The auditor of Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone Ltd, a part of the Adani Group, has issued a qualified audit of the company accounts. Deloitte Haskins & Sells reported that the company had refused to obtain an independent assessment of some transactions that may have been with a related party. Adani Ports is the largest importer of Indonesian coal to India. In January, the US-based Hindenburg Research accused Adani Group of stock manipulation, alleging transactions appeared to be with related parties. The controversy over the audit report comes as the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has flagged tightening disclosure requirements of offshore funds that hold significant stakes in Indian companies. SEBI’s consultation paper on the proposed change flags some “high-risk” offshore funds that have invested more than half of their assets in a single entity in Indian stocks. Adani Group companies aim to raise US$3.5 billion by selling shares to institutional investors. Adani Transmission and Adani Enterprises boards have already approved share sales of over US$2.5 billion. The board of Adani Green Energy is reportedly considering approval for raising US$1 billion in the next few weeks. A new report by the Toxic Bonds Network highlights that funds raised by Adani Green Energy are not devoted solely to renewables projects but are also transferred to other Adani entities directly involved in expanding coal projects. (Business Today, Asia Nikkei, Economic Times, Adani’s Toxic Bonds)

Teck considering a partial sale of its coal division: Following its withdrawal of a proposed plan to spin off its metallurgical coal projects, Teck Resources is reportedly considering selling part of its coal assets. Teck Resources, the world’s second-largest exporter of metallurgical coal, has four major operating mines in British Columbia that have created extensive water pollution that flows across the border into the US. Pierre Lassond, who chairs the Canadian-based Franco-Nevada Corporation, which invests in the resources sector, says Teck is considering retaining a major stake in its coal business to allow it to fund proposed copper projects that require significant investment. Teck Resources confirmed it had received several “indications of interest” for its coal business. (Globe and Mail, Mining.com, Teck Resources)

Japan claims funding coal is climate finance: A special Reuters investigation has found that Japan continues to claim that US$2.4 billion lent for the construction of the 1200 MW Matarbari coal plant in Bangladesh counts as part of its contribution as “climate finance” under the 2015 Paris Agreement. The Reuters investigation found Japan has lent at least US$9 billion for fossil-fuel-related projects. While the world’s wealthiest countries agreed to provide US$100 billion a year to assist other countries in addressing climate change, there are no binding guidelines on what individual nations can include in their tally. “This is the wild, wild west of finance. Essentially, whatever they call climate finance is climate finance,” said the Philippines Department of Finance undersecretary Mark Joven who attends the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations. (Reuters)


“AEP and House Bill 6: Dark Money, Corruption, and Power”, Common Cause Ohio, May 30, 2023. (YouTube)

This 1-hour video of a webinar covers the role of American Electric Power, one of the largest power utilities in the US, in the House Bill 6 scandal in Ohio. The video features Dave Anderson, an Energy and Policy Institute researcher, and Kathiann Kowalski, a reporter from the Energy News Network and Eye on Ohio.