June 9, 2022
Issue 420  |  View Past Issues
Published by Global Energy Monitor

Editor's Note

Old coal plant proposals can take a long time to die. Community groups in the Philippines celebrate as the regulator has finally cancelled an environmental permit issued in 2015 for a proposed 300 megawatt (MW) coal plant. As some European countries, spooked by the upheaval to the energy markets after the COVID lockdowns and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have slowed coal retirement plans, Romania has gone in the opposite direction. It has proposed bringing its coal exit forward to 2030. In Turkey, a coalition of groups argues that increased processing of olives would provide far more jobs than allowing producing trees to be cleared to make way for coal mine expansions to cater for subsidised power plants.

A new report by the group promoting a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty argues the continued use and expansion of fossil fuels undermines all of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. A report by the Imperial College London estimates there are immense financial benefits from the public health gains and avoided climate-related damage from an accelerated retirement of existing coal plants. There are other benefits too.

New coal plants are so uncompetitive they have become a significant drag on national economies. The African Development Bank has belatedly conceded that Eskom’s new 4764 MW Medupi coal plant – which the bank part-funded back in 2009 – will never deliver its touted financial benefits and is likely to be retired early. Unfortunately, Bangladesh seems poised to repeat South Africa’s mistake with a contract to spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on capacity payments for an Adani-run coal plant in India.

Bob Burton


Eskom can’t beat load shedding until Mantashe clears the way

With South Africa facing escalating power and climate crises, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy under Minister Gwede Mantashe has pushed coal, gas and nuclear options but dragged his feet on the cheapest, cleanest and fastest renewables option. It is time for an energy minister and department with a vision suited to the 21st century writes Alex Lenferna from the Climate Justice Coalition and a campaigner with 350Africa.org.

Utilities baulk at the cost of carbon capture plants despite the urging of the Wyoming Government

Despite Wyoming legislators pushing utilities to embrace carbon capture projects, documents submitted by utilities to regulators emphasise the technology is not economically viable, writes Nicholas Kusnetz for Inside Climate News.


Philippines coal plant permit finally revoked

The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice has welcomed the decision of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to cancel the environmental compliance certificate of Ozamiz Power Generation’s proposed 300 MW coal plant near Ozamiz City. The plant was proposed in 2014, and an environmental compliance certificate was granted in October 2015. However, sustained opposition by a coalition of civil society groups saw the council switch position in 2018 to support clean energy options. (Inquirer)

Top News

Draft Romanian law proposes bringing coal exit forward: Romania’s Ministry of Energy has released a draft ordinance for public debate, suggesting the end of 2030 as the date for a complete phase-out of coal power. Last year Romania proposed the end of 2032 as the target date for an exit from coal generation. Romania currently has nine operating coal plants with a combined capacity of 4675 MW, with another 330 MW plant mothballed. It proposes that 990 MW of combined capacity at plants operated by state-owned Complex Energetic Oltenia, with a combined capacity of 990 MW, be placed in reserve in 2026. The plan proposes new gas generation and a small modular nuclear reactor be commissioned by 2030. Small modular reactors are a notional technology with no units in commercial operation. (Balkan Green Energy News)

Study finds large benefit from accelerated global coal phase-out: A study by Imperial College researchers and published by the International Monetary Fund estimates switching from coal power to renewables would result in US$78 trillion in benefits from reduced health impacts and damage from climate change. The study assessed the cost of replacing coal capacity with renewables and compensating coal utilities for their economic loss, and the value of benefits from applying a carbon price to emissions reductions to achieve the 1.5°C temperature increase goal of the Paris Agreement. The study argues that the financing needs of the transition – which could be 0.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent of wealthy countries’ GDP – are significant but is small compared to the benefits. (Imperial College, International Monetary Fund [Pdf])

Report argues fossil fuels threaten UN Sustainable Development Goals: A report published by the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative argues that the continued reliance on fossil fuels threatens all 17 of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals. The goals, which the UN adopted in 2015, aim to “end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all by 2030”. The report, titled Fuelling Failure, argues the continued use and development of fossil fuels threatens human health, disrupts economies, exacerbates inequality, is a cause of mass migrations and undermines ecosystems. (Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative [Pdf])

Guptas face extradition to South Africa to face state capture charges: United Arab Emirates authorities have confirmed they have arrested Atul and Rajesh Gupta after South Africa requested Interpol assistance to apprehend them to face fraud and money laundering charges over a contract with one of their companies. The Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture in South Africa named the brothers as having engaged in securing contracts through their influence with then-President Jacob Zuma and his government. One of the scandals investigated by the Zondo commission was Eskom’s financial support for a Gupta company to purchase the Optimum coal mine from Glencore. The Guptas fled South Africa in February 2018 as controversy grew over the family’s close ties with Zuma. (Mail & Guardian, Guardian)

US coal ash contractor claims lawsuits invalid under Tennessee law: Jacobs Engineering has argued before the Tennessee Supreme Court that lawsuits against it over health impacts from a coal ash clean-up should be treated as actions under the Tennessee Silica Claims Priorities Act. The act limits legal challenges involving exposure to silica dust. Lawyers for the affected workers and families of those who worked on the spill and have died argue that while silica is present in coal ash, they believe the health effects they attribute to the clean-up were due to exposure to arsenic, lead, cadmium, mercury and radium in the ash. Jacobs Engineering was employed by the Tennessee Valley Authority to clean up an estimated 1 billion gallons (4.2 million cubic metres) of coal ash, which spilled in December 2008 from a failed tailings dam at the Kingston coal plant. (Wokv, Tennessee Lookout)

Christian Aid condemns Irish utility for switching back to Colombian coal: Ireland’s state-owned power utility, the Electricity Supply Board (ESB), has confirmed it has restarted coal imports from Glencore’s controversial Cerrejon mine in Colombia. After buying Cerrejon coal for two decades, Christian Aid said that ESB ceased orders four years ago after sustained opposition from civil society groups. The group said the Minister for Foreign Affairs reassured members of parliament in March and May that the ESB would not be buying coal from Cerrejon and acknowledged human rights concerns about the mine. ESB said it ordered Colombia coal as an alternative to purchasing Russian cargoes. (RTE)

Cambodia pushes transmission line for coal plant through reserve: A Lao company, Schneitec Northern, is constructing a 299-kilometre-long transmission line that would bisect the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary is home to about 250,000 indigenous people and is the largest lowland forest in Southeast Asia. The transmission line is proposed to follow the most damaging of the three routes initially considered. The transmission is to cater for power exports from two coal plants proposed to be built in Laos: the 600 MW TSBP Sekong and Mineral Company plant and the 1800 MW Xekong Thermal Power Plant Company. An unnamed Chinese company is reportedly handling the Sekong plant. However, there is uncertainty about whether the project will be affected by China’s September 2021 ban on financing new international coal plants. (Mongabay)

“Today, a coal-fired plant such as Medupi would be impossible to justify based on environmental concerns,”

wrote the African Development Bank in a review of the problems with Eskom’s new coal plant.


Colombia: Nine miners were killed and six remain trapped by a methane explosion at the underground La Mestiza coal mine in El Zulia municipality.

Mongolia: Work begins to clear ten-million-tonne coal stockpile at Shivee Khuren after the border crossing into China re-opened on May 25.

US: Two workers were killed by the collapse of a coal stockpile at Xcel Energy’s Comanche coal plant in Colorado.

US: Derailment of a Canadian Pacific train in Iowa spilled coal into the Mississippi River.

“We’re rightly saying no to Russian coal following the invasion of Ukraine, recognising the impact our trade decisions can have on human rights. But that standard must be applied everywhere, including in Colombia,”

said Gary Gannon, an Irish Social Democrat MP who visited the Cerrejon mine as part of a parliamentary delegation.

Companies + Markets

Swedish pension fund dumps Adani: Sweden’s national pension fund, AP7, had added a further nine companies to its investment blacklist for failing to adopt transition plans away from coal in line with the Paris Agreement. Four of the newly blacklisted companies – Indian company Adani Enterprises, Indonesian company United Tractors, and Chinese companies Guanghui Energy and Aluminium Corporation of China – were excluded because of their role in coal mining. Five other companies were dropped for their continued operation of coal power plants. Three of these were Chinese companies – China Hongqiao Group, Shenergy and Shenzhen Energy Group – plus the state-owned Malaysian utility Tenaga Nasional Bhd and the Filipino company Metro Pacific Investments. (Investments & Pensions Europe, AP7 [Swedish])

African Development Bank notes the financial failure of new Eskom plant: The African Development Bank (AfDB) says Eskom’s US$8.7 billion Medupi coal plant will never make a profit due to cost overruns, significant design faults and defects resulting in the plant being “severely delayed”. The 4764 MW Medupi coal plant, which was vehemently opposed by South African and international civil society groups, was funded by a consortium of banks, with the World Bank lending US$3.75 billion. The AfDB supported the project with a €930 million (US$992 million) loan. The AfDB states the plant was intended to have a load factor of 90 per cent but, due to defects, has achieved only a 70 per cent load factor. The AfDB state the project “will not show a financial benefit over its lifetime.” South Africa’s Deputy President, David Mabuza, said the defects at the Medupi plant and the 4800 MW Kusile plant will not be rectified until 2027. The report said an August 2021 hydrogen explosion in Unit 4 “will probably put the unit out of service for several years.” It has been estimated repairs may cost US$161 million. (Bloomberg, Daily Maverick, News24, African Development Bank)

Report argues more economic benefit from olives than coal: A report by the Milas City Council, Climate Action Network Europe and 350 Turkey argues that local processing of 20,000 tonnes of olives currently exported unprocessed would result in 685 jobs and more local economic benefit than the continued subsidisation of coal power plants. The Turkish Government recently approved a regulation allowing olive trees to be felled to expand coal mines, with clearing operations having already started in Milas. The report argues the €23 million investment cost for processing plants would be less than the €25 million a year subsidy provided to two coal plants in Milas. (Olive Oil Times, Coal Action Network Europe)

Bangladesh faces high costs for Adani’s Godda coal plant: A report by the Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt and Growthwatch estimate the Adani Group will be paid US$11.01 billion as a capacity charge over the 25 years of the offtake agreement for the 1496 MW Godda Coal Power Plant in Jharkhand, India. India promoted the project to supply power from the plant via a dedicated transmission line to Bangladesh. However, with the plant due to be commissioned in August 2022 and the transmission line not completed, the Bangladesh Power Development Board will have to pay US$141 million by the end of the year for unused power. The report estimates electricity from the plant will cost at least 9.09 Bangladeshi taka per kilowatt-hour (KWh; 9 US cents per kWh). The report notes the power price from Godda is 56 per cent higher than other imported electricity and 196 per cent higher than solar power in India. (Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt)

Indian states bow to pressure from Modi to import coal: Most state-owned utilities and private generators have agreed to comply with a Modi Government directive to import coal directly or through Coal India or face a 30 per cent cut in domestic supplies from June 7. Uttar Pradesh has refused to allow public or private utilities to import coal because it is four to five times more expensive than domestic supplies. Government-owned NTPC, which generates about one-quarter of India’s electricity, has issued six tenders to supply a total of 6.25 million tonnes of imported thermal coal. All the contracts have been awarded to Adani Enterprises. NTPC had said it is looking to import Indonesian, not Australian coal. Adani has a coal mine on Bunyu island in Indonesia and is developing the Carmichael coal mine in Australia. NTPC and the Damodar Valley Corporation have flagged they may import 23 million tonnes of thermal coal. (Financial Express, Business Standard)

Russian coal companies hit by sanctions: A report by Russia’s central bank states coal companies report declining sales due to economic sanctions imposed after the invasion of Ukraine in late February. Coal producers in Kemerovo in Western Siberia, the country’s largest coal-producing region, report a 20 per cent fall in coal exports in April, with stockpiles increasing by 13 per cent. A coal company in eastern Siberia stated there is a “high” probability it will need to stop production and lay off workers. With a decline in European sales, Russian exporters have struggled to sell the same volume in the Asian market. The report notes the increase in coal export prices has helped companies maintain profits despite lower sales. (Radio Free Europe)

Chile’s coal exit requires a big renewables boost: A report for the renewables lobby group ACERA by the Universidad de Chile, Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María and Britain’s Imperial College London argues an exit from coal generation by 2025 will require an additional 8000 MW of capacity on top of the 10,000 MW currently planned. The report says an accelerated phase-out would require an extra 1100 MW of storage capacity, 5700 MW of wind capacity in the northern district of Taltal and 1200 MW of solar generation near centres of consumption. The report also argues a suite of support measures, such as policies and regulations to support a modernised energy grid, will also be required. In 2019 the former government committed to ending coal generation by 2040. Energy regulators are considering measures to achieve a 2030 end date, while some legislators are pushing to bring the last closures to 2025. (BNAmericas)

US renewables climb as short-term coal production tipped to as well: The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates renewables will generate about 22 per cent of US electricity in 2022, eclipsing coal power’s 21 per cent share of generation. The EIA estimates solar capacity will increase by 20,000 MW in 2022 and 22,000 MW in 2023. Wind capacity is estimated to increase by 11,000 MW in 2022 and 5000 MW in 2023. The EIA notes that despite rising gas prices, coal utilities have been constrained from increasing generation markedly due to limited rail capacity, low on-site coal stockpiles, reduced coal mining capacity and increased competition from renewables. Despite the headwinds for coal generation, EIA estimates coal production may increase by 23 million US short tons (21 million tonnes) in 2022 to 601 million US short tons (545 million tonnes) as utilities restock and exports increase. (US Energy Information Administration)


Tackling Australia’s Coal Mine Methane Problem, Ember, June 2021. (Pdf) (The Executive Summary is here.)

This 41-page report documents the scale of methane emissions from Australia’s coal mines and potential actions to reduce leaks and mitigate their impact on the climate.