October 20, 2022
Issue 439  |  View Past Issues
Published by Global Energy Monitor

Editor's Note

President Xi Jinping’s speech at the five-year Communist Party Congress contained no surprises, restating that China will continue to build new renewable capacity and coal plants. It aims to avoid a repeat of the blackouts experienced last year but will only make the losses on coal generation even bigger. India is following a similar path, with pro-coal elements of the ruling government talking up the prospect of a massive expansion of coal-mining capacity at the very time renewables account for nearly all new generation and is the cheapest source of supply. One of the areas targeted by the government for new coal projects is the Hasdeo Aranya forests in Chattisgarh, but local communities strongly oppose the projects.

Elsewhere, governments and utilities are grappling with the transition away from coal. In the US, environmentalists and regulators are alarmed at the failure to ensure adequate financial coverage to rehabilitate the growing number of coal mine closures. In South Africa, Eskom has announced land leasing deals with independent power producers with the aim of new projects easing the load-shedding crisis. In Poland, the government has taken loss-making coal mines off the hands of a power utility to allow it to attract finance for new renewables projects. In Russia, the country’s largest coal-mining company has called for government financial and other support to offset the loss of markets and revenue caused by sanctions imposed after the Ukraine invasion.

Bob Burton


This 11-year-old from Manipur is leading anti-coal mine protests in Chhattisgarh

Licypriya Kangujam, an 11-year-old climate activist from Manipur, is leading the protests against coal mining in the biodiversity-rich dense forest of the Hasdeo Aranya region of Chattisgarh, writes Saurabh Sharma in BusinessToday.In.

Thailand bets on coal despite long losing streak for communities

Despite its declaration of ambitious emissions reduction targets, Thailand is on track to build four new coal-fired power generators by 2034, writes Kannikar Petchkaew in Mongabay.

As Ohio regulators sit on coal plant subsidy cases, costs could rack up for ratepayers

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has failed to take action in months to address the hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies for two 1950s-era coal plants included in the law at the heart of Ohio’s ongoing corruption scandal, writes Kathiann M. Kowalski in Eye on Ohio.

The coal is gone, but the mess remains

Since 2015 the major US coal producer Alpha Metallurgical Resources has freed itself of rehabilitation liabilities by offloading over 300 coal-mining permits to smaller, more financially precarious companies. It is part of a broader trend as the US coal industry collapses, with taxpayers often left to cover clean-up costs or bear long-term pollution impacts, write Josh Saul, Zachary Mider and Dave Mistich in Bloomberg.

Top News

China to build coal and renewables: In a speech at the five-year Communist Party Congress, President Xi Jinping reaffirmed that China will pursue the development of additional domestic coal power capacity and “accelerate the planning and construction of a new energy system.” Following blackouts late last year when power generators withdrew capacity due to power price caps at a time of high fuel prices, government officials have continued to approve new coal plants. In his speech, Xi said China will meet its target of peaking greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 but will do so in a “well-planned and phased way, in line with the principle of getting the new before discarding the old.” An official from the National Energy Administration said China would aim to increase coal production to 4.6 billion tonnes by 2025, a 12 per cent increase on the 4.1 billion tonnes produced in 2021. Significant new coal capacity will further undermine the coal fleet’s utilisation rates, leaving the coal generators’ poor economics to be resolved later. (Bloomberg, ABC News)

Indian Government pushes for coal mine boom despite excess capacity: Global Energy Monitor reports that India is pushing ahead with plans for 99 new coal mine projects with a combined production capacity of 427 million tonnes per year, even though existing mines are underutilised. The report estimates underutilised capacity at existing mines is 433 million tonnes per annum, with high levels of spare capacity in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha, the three states accounting for most of the proposed mines. The report estimates the proposed new coal projects threaten to displace at least 87,630 families, with almost half in areas with a high proportion of tribal communities. Over one-third of the proposed new mines would be in high-risk water zones, and just over one-half in extremely high-risk water zones. The Indian Government has claimed the country’s coal production capacity could increase to as much as 1.5 billion tonnes a year by 2030. (Deccan Herald, Global Energy Monitor)

German regulator approves 2025 retirement of coal plant: BNA, the German utility regulator, has approved the closure in February 2025 of the 472 megawatt (MW) Zolling plant owned by Onyx Power, a subsidiary of Riverstone Holdings. BNA said Onyx Power was the only successful bid in a tender for 699 MW of contracts to close coal capacity and will be paid the maximum price of €98,000 per MW (US$95,500 per MW). Another bidder was deemed ineligible for unstated administrative reasons. The next and final tender, open only to hard coal capacity and lignite units under 150 MW, is scheduled for 1 June 2023. (Montel)

Pakistan Government pushes China to abandon Gwadar coal plant: Pakistan’s Minister for Planning, Ahsan Iqbal, has told officials to investigate a power project that can be offered to China Communications Construction Group as an alternative to the proposed 300 MW Gwadar coal power plant. The plant was intended to rely on imported coal, but with the volatile global price, the government has switched its emphasis to domestic fuel. The port of Gwadar and the associated industrial area are not connected to the national grid. The government has suggested a solar project, but changes to projects sponsored under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor require the support of the Joint Cooperation Committee involving officials from both governments. The committee may meet in the next few weeks. (Express Tribune, Global Energy Monitor)

Methane explosion at Turkish coal mine kills 41: A methane explosion has killed 41 workers at an underground mine in Amasra of the state-owned TTK, known in English as Turkish Hard Coal Enterprises. A further ten workers remain hospitalised, with five in a serious condition with extensive burns. Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into the explosion. Methane released from coal is explosive when the concentration ranges between 4.4 per cent and 17 per cent, and there is an ignition source. Mine explosions are commonly a result of inadequate ventilation, poor monitoring, training and safety standards being ignored or overridden by management. The Amasra mine has been proposed as the site for two new coal power plants in the last decade, both of which appear to have been cancelled. (BBC, The Week)


Australia: Environment Victoria is seeking a court order to nullify the decision of the Environment Protection Authority to set weak pollution emission standards and not regulate greenhouse gas emissions from three brown coal power plants.

Chile: AES Andes proposes replacing the 558 MW Angamos coal plant, which is due to retire in 2025, with a molten salt storage plant.

India: The state-owned Power Finance Corporation plans bankruptcy court action over Rattan India Power’s 1350 MW Nashik coal plant in Maharashtra.

South Africa: Pretoria High Court is hearing a legal challenge by environmental justice groups against granting a water licence to Uthaka for the proposed Yzermyn coal mine in Mpumalanga province.

Companies + Markets

Eskom announces independent power land leases at old coal sites: Eskom has signed lease agreements with four independent power producers covering 6,184 hectares of land near its Majuba and Tutuka power stations in Mpumalanga province. The land, which has been leased for 25 to 30 years, is expected to provide up to 2000 MW of wind, solar and battery projects, subject to feasibility studies. Eskom hopes the projects will be commissioned within three years, subject to planning and finance. Electricity from the projects will be sold directly to end users rather than Eskom and not require guarantees from the National Treasury. However, the lack of a government guarantee may result in delays in financing. Eskom plans to offer more land to independent power producers near its Kendal and Kusile power stations in Mpumalanga and the Ingagane Power Station in KwaZulu-Natal. Eskom decommissioned the latter coal plant in 1990. (PV Tech, Iol, Eskom)

SUEK calls for Russian Government support to maintain viability: The CEO of Siberian Coal Energy Company (SUEK), Maksim Basov, has called on the Russian Government to provide support with logistics and engineering to allow the company to maintain production and export volumes. In 2021 SUEK produced 102 million tonnes of coal, with 63 million tonnes exported. Sanctions imposed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has affected equipment and other suppliers. Baskov said the company has to discount metallurgical coal sales by 50 per cent to compete with Australian exporters due to the impact of boycotts on Russian cargoes. He also warned that “a significant reduction in costs” was needed to support recent production levels to avoid social instability in coal-mining regions such as the Kuzbass. (SteelOrbis)

Despite Polish Government’s buyout of mines, Tauron faces hurdles: The Polish state-owned utility Tauron has confirmed it will sell its coal-mining subsidiary to the Ministry of State Assets for 1 zloty (20 US cents). Except for the first half of this year, Tauron’s mines have been loss-making for the last six years. Tauron’s CEO said the sale of its three coal mines was a response to the increasing reluctance of banks to fund utilities with coal assets. Fitch Ratings, a financial services firm, estimates that while the switch will boost the standing of the utility, it faces significant short-term financial hurdles. Tauron has made a provision for a loss of 943 million zloty (US$190 million) in 2022 due to the forward sale of electricity based on assumptions that pre-dated Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and recent higher imported coal prices. Fitch Ratings also noted that breakdowns at Tauon’s new 910 MW Jaworzno unit added to losses as the electricity has been pre-sold on the forward market with shortfalls bought at higher prices on the spot market. Tauron is also seeking to offload its coal plants to the state-controlled National Agency for Energy Security, but the terms of the sale have not been finalised. (Reuters, Fitch Ratings)

BHEL enters into non-binding MOU for Indian coal gasification plants: Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), an Indian government-owned engineering supplier to the power sector, has entered into non-binding memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with Coal India and NLC India to establish two coal gasification plants. The MOU with Coal India is for converting Indian high-ash coal to ammonium nitrate used as a fertiliser and in explosives. The agreement with NLC is for a lignite-based gasification pilot power plant. Coal gasification plants are energy- and capital-intensive and are rarely economic without government subsidies. In 2021 the Indian Government announced it was launching a National Coal Gasification Mission intending to gasify 100 million tonnes of flow-rank domestic coal a year by 2030. BHEL’s only experience with coal gasification based on domestic coal is a small pilot plant at its research and development lab in Hyderabad. Ministry of Coal officials are lobbying for the 400 rupees (US$4.86) per tonne tax on coal, imposed to fund clean energy developments, to be waived for gasification projects. (BHEL, Mint)

KEPCO hits financial hurdles and hikes power prices: Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), the state-owned power utility, has increased power prices again, with rates up an average of 17.9 per cent compared to the end of last year and up over 20 per cent for industrial users. KEPCO has been hit by a surge in imported coal and gas costs, a weak currency and a limited share of low-cost renewable generation. The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) estimates coal generation has accounted for 43–52 per cent of KEPCO’s power generation over the last decade. IEEFA argue that KEPCO is at risk of defaulting on its debt and that the utility’s overconfidence in the likelihood of a government bailout has led it to avoid overhauling its business strategy and re-orienting away from fossil fuel generation. KEPCO’s losses have surged in the first half of 2022 to US$12 billion in the first half of 2022. Earlier this year, KEPCO announced it planned to sell its stakes in overseas fossil fuel projects, including the Jawa 9 and 10 coal plants in Indonesia and Vung Ang 2 in Vietnam. (Bloomberg, Nikkei Asia, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis)

US coal companies offloading clean-up liabilities: Environmental bonds for coal mining sites held by state regulators are far lower than expected clean-up costs. A 2021 Illinois Department of Natural Resources document estimates the clean-up costs on mining sites abandoned before 1977 at an average of US$17,000 per acre. Bonds in Illinois are currently set at about US$8,000 per acre, while other states, such as Indiana and Kentucky, set bonds at about $4,000 per acre. Environmental groups believe the federal government’s Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, passed in 1977, was not designed to cover the rapid decline of the entire coal industry. A Pennsylvania member of Congress has proposed a bill to create a federal clean-up fund but on condition that states have financially sound bonding arrangements on mining leases. (NPR, Circle of Blue)

Indian renewables boom accounts for all new generating capacity: In the first half of the 2022/23 financial year, data from India’s Central Electricity Authority reveals that 98 per cent of the new power generating capacity was by renewables. In the year to June 2022, over 2500 MW of rooftop solar was added, primarily by commercial and industrial sectors. A report by Climate Energy Finance for the IEEFA estimates that India is likely to add between 35,000 and 40,000 MW of renewable energy capacity a year, reaching 405,000 MW by 2029/30. This rate of new projects would meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s target of 450,000 MW of renewables by 2030 but requires a doubling of the current installation rate. The report estimates that if the target is met, coal generation will decline from its current 72 per cent share to 53 per cent in 2029/30. (Climate Energy Finance)

Insurance restrictions on coal start to bite: The annual insurance industry scorecard by Insure Our Future, a climate policy NGO, estimates the market share of insurers with coal exclusions policies has reached 62 per cent of the reinsurance market and 39 per cent in the primary insurance markets. In the last year, the number of companies with coal exclusion policies has increased from 35 to 41, including major US insurers AIG and Travelers. The group concludes that coal projects and companies have become “increasingly uninsurable outside of China”. The group concludes that many insurance companies without coal exclusion policies are not involved in supporting fossil fuel projects and cannot underwrite large new coal power plants outside China. (Guardian, Insure Our Future)


Australia’s coal mines can deliver two-thirds of methane cuts, Ember, October 2022. (Pdf)

This 14-page report identifies Australia’s coal mines as the cheapest option for reducing methane emissions. The report estimates coal mine methane emissions account for 23 per cent of the national total.