March 30, 2023
Issue 459  |  View Past Issues
Published by Global Energy Monitor

Editor's Note

Official data confirms that renewables generated more electricity than coal for the first time ever in the US. It is a significant milestone. Even so, coal production still has a long way to fall from the 500 million US short tons (453 million tonnes) currently produced, some of which is exported. This year’s surge in Chinese coal imports suggests coal generation may be on the rise. A countervailing factor is the 150,000 MW of solar and wind capacity installed last year, including a jaw-dropping 50,000 megawatts (MW) of small-scale rooftop solar. In Germany, one of the major utilities, EnBW, announced that it will cease coal and lignite generation by 2028, seven years earlier than planned. While EnBW intends to increase its investments in renewables, it also wants to convert some of its existing coal plant capacity to burn gas.

The fallout from the Hindenburg Research report on Adani Enterprises continues to reverberate in India and beyond. The latest focus has been on the role of Gautam Adani’s older brother Vinod in a series of shell companies linked to Adani Enterprises. There have been other coal industry scandals too. In Indonesia, a former regent has been on trial for allegedly accepting payments from the South Korean construction company building a Japanese-backed coal plant. In Australia, a former New South Wales minister was sentenced to serve 14 years and six months in jail over his role in a coal allocation scandal. In South Africa, the African National Congress government has defeated an attempt by opposition politicians to establish a parliamentary committee to inquire into allegations of corruption at Eskom.

Bob Burton


Is it time for a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty?

Vanuatu is leading a call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and an International Court of Justice opinion about states’ legal obligations on climate action. Why should business care? asks Julian Reingold in Energy Monitor.

Money managers raise alarms over anti-ESG crusade in Republican states

Republican-controlled legislatures in Kansas, Wyoming, North Dakota and Indiana have rejected or significantly watered down bills limiting environmental, social and governance investing practices or forcing governments to cut ties with financial services firms that espouse the policies, write Danielle Moran and Shelly Hagan in Bloomberg.

The coal procurement investigation into an Adani Group subsidiary remains stalled

A case filed by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation against Adani Enterprises and others over allegations about a rigged coal procurement tender for power stations in Andhra Pradesh has gone nowhere for over three years, write Ravi Nair and Paranjoy Thakurta in Adani Watch.

Top News

Former New South Wales minister sentenced over coal deal: A former New South Wales Minister for Resources, Ian Macdonald, has been sentenced to serve 14 years and six months in jail over his decision to issue two mining licences in the Hunter Valley to a company chaired by John Maitland, the former head of the mining division of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union. Maitland was acquitted of being an accessory. Macdonald, a Labour government member, will not be eligible for parole until 2027. “The damage to the institution of government is a serious loss that affects the entire community,” said Justice Hament Dhanji. Days after Macdonald was sentenced, the governing conservative Liberal-National Party government was defeated at the state election. The incoming Labor government has made no commitments on new coal projects or expansions of existing mines beyond them being assessed under the existing planning process. (ABC News,  Lock the Gate)

Japanese NGOs call for suspension of Indonesian coal plant funding: Friends of the Earth Japan and three other NGOs have called on Japan’s Ministry of Finance and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) to suspend financial disbursements for the 1000 MW Cirebon 2 coal plant in Indonesia. The groups want JBIC to discontinue support for the project until a verdict has been determined on bribery charges against the former Cirebon regent over the project. The Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) filed charges against the former Cirebon Regent, Sunjaya Purwadisastra, alleging he received bribes and gratuities worth up to 64.2 billion rupiah (US$4.2 million) from Hyundai Engineering & Construction (HEC) to ensure support for the Cirebon 2 project. HEC is the construction contractor for a joint venture that includes Marubeni and JERA. Purwadisastra has pled not guilty. In May 2019, Purwadisastra was sentenced to serve five years in prison after being convicted in a separate bribery case. (DetikJabar [Indonesia], Friends of the Earth Japan)

South African gov't blocks inquiry into Eskom corruption allegations: The ruling African National Congress (ANC) party used its parliamentary majority to defeat a motion proposing a committee to investigate allegations of corruption and criminal groups in Eskom. The outgoing Eskom CEO, Andre de Ruyter, recently alleged that senior ANC officials were involved or knew about corruption in Eskom. This claim drew an angry response from the government, demanding de Ruyter provide evidence to support his claims. Later reports indicated he had previously contacted the relevant section of the police, which has launched an investigation. The ANC said it has unsuccessfully sought to serve a summons to de Ruyter for defamation. The ANC said that appointing a new Minister for Electricity and current parliamentary oversight provisions are sufficient to address the issue. (Mail & Guardian)

Polish miners protest against methane emissions restrictions: An estimated 300 members of the Solidarity 80 union have protested against European Union (EU) recommendations to cut methane emissions. The union members claimed that the measure would force the closure of most of Poland’s coal mines, costing tens of thousands of jobs. The climate policy think tank Ember recently estimated that seven Polish coal mines emit all of the country’s emissions from the thermal hard coal sector but account for less than half the production. In December, the EU weakened the draft coal mine methane regulation to increase allowable emissions from thermal coal mines and delay standards for metallurgical coal projects by five years. Ember estimate that the weakened standard would only cut methane emissions by 47 per cent by 2030 instead of the goal of a 58 per cent reduction. (AP News)

Alarm over charges against Turkish forest protester: The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a coalition of human rights organisations, has expressed alarm at the continued prosecution of environmental and human rights defender Ms Fusun Ergun on charges over her participation in protests against the clearing Akbelen Forest near Mugla in the south-west of Turkey. Ergun was one of 11 people arrested in August 2021 when occupying the forest to prevent lignite mining. The indictment against Ergun alleges that while police officers were taking her out of the forest, they were prevented from performing their public duties. Ergun has had five court hearings on her case and, if convicted, could face up to four years in prison. (Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, Global Energy Monitor)

First Nation groups press the US for action over Teck’s Canadian mines: The Canadian and US governments have announced that within months they will conclude an agreement on measures to reduce selenium pollution from Teck Resources coal mines in British Columbia. A joint statement by President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated it would be a partnership with First Nations groups “in order to protect the people and species that depend on this vital river system.” The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and Kootenai Tribe of Idaho have taken a delegation to Washington DC to lobby US government officials to support a First Nations-led board to address pollution from Teck’s Elk Valley mines. The tribes are part of the Ktunaxa Nation that sought the referral of the issue of cross-border pollution from the mines to the International Joint Commission (IJC) 11 years ago. The IJC was established to address disputes over shared border waters between the US and Canada. Canada has previously opposed a reference to the IJC, but the joint statement with Biden suggests they may be backtracking. (Helena Independent, White House)

Greenpeace calls for reversal of decision to extend Czech mine licence: Greenpeace has called on the mining authority to reverse a preliminary decision to grant the government-owned utility CEZ permission to extend the life of its Bilina lignite mine by five years to 2035. CEZ’s mining subsidiary Severoceske Doly has previously claimed that the five-year extension of the permit for the mine did not mean it would operate beyond 2030. The government previously committed to cut coal’s share of power generation to 12.5 per cent by 2030 and phase it out by 2033. Greenpeace said that unless the decision on the extension is reversed, it will consider initiating legal action. (Mining Weekly, Greenpeace [Czech])


Australia: NSW Greens call on incoming Labor Government to formulate a plan to close Peabody Energy’s Metropolitan mine.

Australia: The federal Minister for Environment, Tanya Plibersek, may decide on 28 coal mines in the current parliamentary term. The projects could have lifetime emissions of up to 18 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

Canada: Residents concerned over coal dust pollution and safety of coal trucks from Kameron Coal’s Donkin mine in Nova Scotia.

India: After protests by farmers, the Tamil Nadu Minister for Industries says lignite exploration in the Cauvery Delta Protected Special Agriculture Zone has been stopped.

Kosovo: Government energy strategy backs refurbishing the two 340 MW units at the Kosovo B plant by 2025 and 2026 and at least one of the 200 MW units at Kosovo A plant.

US: The Sierra Club has filed a lawsuit against Prairie State Generating Company, alleging the plant has operated illegally for almost a decade under a construction permit.

Companies + Markets

US renewables surpassed coal generation for the first time in 2022: The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that renewable energy generation in the US exceeded coal-based electricity for the first time in 2022. The EIA reports coal generation declined from 23 per cent in 2021 to 20 per cent in 2022. It forecasts coal generation will fall to 17 per cent in 2023. Wind and solar generation accounted for 14 per cent in 2022, up from 12 per cent the year before. The EIA reports that solar capacity increased by 10,000 MW in 2022 to 71,000 MW, and wind capacity increased by 8000 MW to 141,000 MW. In its Short-Term Energy Outlook released earlier this month, the EIA estimates solar capacity will increase by another 63,000 MW by the end of 2024 due to declining construction costs and federal tax credits. The EIA estimates wind capacity will increase to 156,000 MW by the end of 2024. (S & P Global, US Energy Information Administration)

Rooftop solar booms in China as coal imports surge: Chinese coal imports have surged by 81 per cent to 65.7 million tonnes in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same period the year before. The spike in imports reflects utilities restocking supplies after the winter heating season and an anticipated increase in economic activity with the easing of COVID restrictions. The spike in import demand may be short-lived. China added more than 51,000 MW of small-scale solar in 2022, with a leading manufacturer anticipating about 60,000 MW will be installed this year. In 2022 China also added 100,000 MW of utility-scale solar and wind capacity. About 40 per cent of China’s current solar capacity has been installed on rooftops and backyards as government incentives drove prices down and spurred investment. (Business Standard, Reuters)

German utility brings coal closures and conversions forward: EnBW has announced that it will close its 4300 MW of coal and lignite plant capacity by 2028, seven years earlier than its announced target of 2035. The German government has a legislated coal phase-out date of 2038, but the current coalition government is discussing bringing it forward. Germany has agreed to higher renewable energy targets to offset the impacts on the energy industry from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In February 2021, EnBW agreed with the German government to close its only lignite plant, the 933 MW Lippendorf Block S, by 2025. EnBW stated it plans to spend about €1.6 billion (US$1.74 billion) to switch 1500 MW of its coal plant capacity to run on gas. The utility plans to close 2000 MW of coal capacity by 2028. (Reuters, EnBW)

Report says New South Wales missing out on billions in coal royalties: The Australia Institute, a centre-left think tank, estimates that the New South Wales Government could have raised between $4.2 and $6.2 billion (US$2.8 - US$4.1 billion) this financial year in coal royalties if it matched the rates applicable in the neighbouring state of Queensland. New South Wales exported 164 million tonnes of coal in 2021, with the maximum royalty rate set at 8.2 per cent for open-cut mines and 7.2 and 6.2 per cent, respectively, for underground and deep underground projects. Last year, despite trenchant opposition from the mining industry, the Queensland Government imposed higher royalty rates of up to 40 per cent on coal sold at over A$300 per tonne (US$200 per tonne). The institute suggested the extra funds could be used to pay for forthcoming public sector wage increases the Labor Party included as part of its campaign or added to the Royalties for Rejuvenation Fund used to fund projects in the state’s four coal regions. The fund is allocated just A$25 million (US$16.7 million) annually. (ABC News, Australia Institute [Pdf])

India touts coal exports to near neighbours: India’s Secretary of Coal, Amrit Lal Meena, said the country may begin to export coal in the 2025/26 financial year if production increases to about one billion tonnes by then. The Indian Government has sold 125 coal blocks to private companies in the last few years, with almost half likely to be in production by the end of the year. India’s domestic coal demand has increased significantly in the last year with strong power demand growth. However, this growth may taper off as new renewable projects, especially solar, are commissioned. The climate think tank Ember estimates India commissioned 15,700 MW of solar and wind capacity in 2022. The Indian Government is also pushing to commission over 29,000 MW of stalled coal plants by early next year. India’s coal is low quality with a high ash content and likely to have limited appeal in the export market, with the Indian Government referring to prospects with near neighbours in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, both of which are seeking low-cost coal. (Mint)

South Korea pares back role for coal and renewables: South Korea’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (Motie) has released the country’s 10th Basic Electricity Plan, which provides for a reduced role for both coal and renewables offset by increased nuclear, gas and hydrogen generation. Currently, coal and gas generation contribute about 65 per cent of electricity. Under the latest plan, coal would decline to 14.4 per cent by 2030 and gas to 9.3 per cent. Under the plan, 14,000 MW of coal capacity will be converted to gas generation, with 9000 MW of new gas plants built. The plan slashes the role of renewables from 30.2 per cent of generation to 21.6 per cent. The conservative government, which was elected in March 2022, described the previous government’s targets of steeper emissions reduction and a more significant role for renewables as “unachievable”. (Argus, Climate Analytics [Pdf])

Increased scrutiny of the brother of Adani Enterprises CEO: In the wake of questions raised by Hindenburg Research about the role of Vinod Adani with a range of companies linked to Adani Enterprises, the company insisted that he had no managerial position in any Adani-listed entities or their subsidiaries. It also insisted he had no role in the day-to-day operations of any of the companies. Vinod is the older brother of Adani Enterprises CEO Gautam Adani. After media revelations of Vinod’s position with a string of overseas shell companies tied to the group, Adani Enterprises described him as “part of the ‘promoter group’ of various listed entities within the Adani group.” The Wall Street Journal reported that a Singaporean entity Vinod is a director of received large loans from a Dubai company he manages. The newspaper said the funds were loaned to an Australian subsidiary of Adani when it struggled to raise funds to build the railway from its Carmichael mine to the Abbot Point Coal Terminal it operates. It also reported that a Singaporean company Vinod Adani managed took over an Australian asset to shift the losses off the balance sheet of Adani Enterprises. (Deccan Herald, Wall Street Journal)


CCUS Projects Explorer: Tracking CO2 capture, transport, storage, and utilisation projects worldwide, International Energy Agency (IEA), March 2023.

The IEA’s CCUS Projects Explorer provides a brief overview of existing and proposed carbon capture utilisation and storage projects, including projects in the power sector that capture just 1.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. The full dataset is available here (registration required).

“Q&A: IPCC wraps up its most in-depth assessment of climate change”, Carbon Brief, March 23, 2023.

This article provides a concise overview of the Synthesis Report: Climate Change 2023 by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

An economist’s case for restrictive supply-side policy: Ten policies to manage the fossil fuel transition, Climate and Community Project, March 2023. (Pdf)

This 27-page report argues that restrictive supply-side planning and policy restrictions on fossil fuel developments are necessary to avoid a chaotic transition where workers, communities, and the environment suffer.