India’s biggest private bank bet A$1.1 billion on a failed Australian coal mine
India’s largest privately owned bank, ICICI, stands to lose up to A$1.1 billion (US$730 million) after it backed Lanco Infratech buying the Griffin coal mine in Western Australia, writes Daniel Mercer in ABC News.
The Indian coal mine that razed a village and shrank a forest
Adani’s huge Parsa East and Kanta Basan coal mine has displaced indigenous Adivasi communities and is just one of the coal projects threatening the future of the Hasdeo Arand forest, writes Astha Rajvanshi in the New Yorker.
Indonesia to build coal plants despite US$20b deal on clean energy transition
The Indonesian Government will still permit the construction of new coal-fired power plants, despite recently signing a US$20 billion energy transition financing deal with industrialised countries, writes Hans Nicholas Jong in Mongabay.
Call for EU to abandon Energy Charter Treaty as reform push stalls: The environmental law group ClientEarth has welcomed the collapse of a European Union plan to support reforms to ‘modernise’ the Energy Charter Treaty after Germany, France, Spain, and the Netherlands refused to support the proposal. The treaty was established in 1994 to provide legal certainty to energy companies investing in former Soviet Union countries but more recently the arbitration courts have been used by fossil fuel companies seeking compensation for governments adopting polices to protect the climate. ClientEarth wants the European Commission to coordinate the departure with other member states and negotiate an agreement to neutralise the clause that allows departing members to be sued by energy companies within the next 20 years. The NGO wants the nations to lobby the EU to develop a plan to withdraw from the treaty and resolve ongoing legal issues. The German utility, RWE, has launched a case against the Netherlands over its coal closure legislation.(Guardian, Euronews, ClientEarth)
US EPA rejects coal ash plan for huge Ohio plant: The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has refused a request by a Lightstone Generation subsidiary to continue to dump toxic coal ash from the 2600 megawatt (MW) General James Gavin Power Plant in southern Ohio into an unlined dam after the deadline for the closure of the impoundment. The EPA said one of the unlined dams at the site is “sitting in groundwater”, and the groundwater monitoring system at one dam is “inadequate”. The EPA said monitoring wells at two other dams “are too far apart to detect all potential pathways of groundwater contamination.” The EPA said the plant must cease disposing of coal ash in the Bottom Ash Pond no later than 135 days after the publication of the agency’s final determination. EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said, “communities already disproportionately impacted by high levels of pollution have been burdened by improper coal ash disposal.” (Associated Press, Environmental Protection Agency)
Australian MP calls for inquiry into coal testing scandal: Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has told the Australian Parliament that major coal exporters used “fraudulent quality reports for their exports and [paid] bribes to representatives of their overseas customers to keep the whole scam secret.” He called for a parliamentary committee to investigate the allegations. Wilkie said he had been given “thousands of documents” by a whistleblower related to coal shipments to customers in Japan, South Korea, China and India. Wilkie alleged companies mentioned in the documents included Terracom, Anglo American, Glencore, Peabody and Macquarie Bank. Wilkie tabled two documents from the testing company SGS indicating altered coal quality results. The Australian Securities and Investment Commission recently told ALS, a global laboratory services company, that it has decided against taking any enforcement action against the company, current officers, and employees over coal test results that were changed between 2007 and 2019. (ABC News, Andrew Wilkie)
Climate talks make little progress on cutting coal and other fossil fuels: The main achievement of the global climate negotiations in Egypt was support for the establishment of a “loss and damage” fund to compensate countries for the impacts on the poorest countries from global heating. However, the COP27 conference failed to make progress on agreeing to accelerate phasing out coal or other fossil fuels beyond restating the commitment to limit global heating to 1.5 °C and “phasing down” coal made in the agreement at last year’s Glasgow negotiations. Alok Sharma, the President of the Glasgow conference, noted that the previous year’s commitments were not added to, just retained. “Peaking emissions by 2025 is not in this text. Follow-through on the phasedown of coal is not in this text. The phasedown of all fossil fuels is not in this text,” he said. (Guardian, CarbonBrief)
Biden administration backs Trump era pollution plan: Environmental groups have criticised a US EPA decision to allow two Utah coal plants to continue operating without installing pollution control equipment to cut nitrogen oxides emissions. Emission reductions aim to improve visibility in National Parks in areas including the Grand Canyon. At issue are two coal plants owned by PacifiCorp, the 1577 MW Hunter and 1037 MW Huntington plants in Utah. PacifiCorp wants to keep the plants operating until 2036 and 2042, respectively. In 2016 the EPA decided the plants were affecting visibility in the parks and must cut emissions, a decision overturned when Trump was President. TheTrump administration decision was challenged by the Sierra Club and a coalition of environmental groups, but the EPA is now agreeing with the utility. (Greenwire)
Regulator silent on action over pollution from Adani’s Mundra coal plant: The Gujarat State Pollution Control Board has not responded to a request for clarification on what action has been taken against Adani Power over the illegal dumping of over 1.5 million tonnes of fly ash from its 4620 MW Mundra coal plant over five years to 2019. In September, a report by the Indian Government’s Comptroller and Auditor General noted that Adani had not installed a monitoring system as it had been directed to by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change in March 2016. (Adani Watch)
Australia: Former pro-coal Labor MP, Joel Fitzgibbon, was appointed as a Director of Brickworks, which holds a 26 per cent stake in coal mine owner Washington H. Soul Pattinson.
Australia: Peabody Energy’s Metropolitan mine finds the third instance of pollution from the mine in the headwaters of one of the main rivers flowing into the Royal National Park near Sydney.
Colombia: The blockade of the railway from the Cerrejon mine by former mine workers continues.
Czech Republic: Surge in demand for lignite for home heating sparks alarm over air pollution impact.
Poland: Michal Wojcik, an MP and minister in coalition with the ruling Law and Justice party, has called for government investment to expand coal mining capacity.
Russia: The government has dropped a plan for a 40 per cent export tax on thermal coal over US$150 per tonne and metallurgical coal over US$170 per tonne.
Taiwan: Taipower signs MOU with Mitsubishi Group to co-fire the 2400 MW coal-fired Linkou Power Plant with up to five per cent ammonia by 2030.
China’s renewables boom crimps growth in coal generation: Data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics data reveals that total electricity generation increased by 3.6 per cent in the first ten months of 2022, with 74 per cent of the growth coming from wind, solar, hydro and nuclear power. Coal accounted for the bulk of the rest of the increase in generation. The data reveals that wind and solar capacity increased by 17 per cent and 29 per cent in the first nine months of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021. Since 2014, coal’s share of coal generation over the first ten months of the year has declined from 76 per cent to 69 per cent. (Reuters)
Negotiations over Vietnam coal transition deal progressing slowly: A coalition of countries led by the European Union and the UK is aiming to announce a Just Energy Transition Partnership funding deal worth between US$11 billion and US$14 billion on December 14. The deal to accelerate renewables and reduce the growth of coal capacity includes between US$5 billion and US$7 billion of grants and public loans, with the balance from private finance. While a broad outline has been negotiated, sticking points remain. Vietnam wants to limit the amount of extra debt it takes on, even at highly concessional rates, and needs to resolve internal political disputes over restricting the role of coal. Funding countries want agreement on the country’s decarbonisation plan. They have raised the imprisonment of clean energy advocate Nguy Thi Khanh and other climate advocates as impairing the capacity to involve civil society in a just transition program. “You can’t have confidence in Vietnam’s ability to deliver if all the leading experts are in jail,” said Jake Schmidt from the US-based Natural Resources Defense Council. (Bloomberg, Quartz)
Indian company awarded the contract for Botswana coal plant: Botswana’s Minister of Energy has awarded the contract for the proposed 300 MW Morupule coal plant to Jindal Steel & Power as an independent power project. Jindal will be responsible for all aspects of the project, with power to be sold to Botswana Power Corporation under a power purchase agreement that has yet to be negotiated. Botswana currently has two operating coal mines, the Morupule mine, owned by the state-owned Minerals Development Company Botswana and the Masama coal project, owned by Minergy. Minergy was one of the other short-listed bidders for the power station project. Jindal has mining licences over part of the Mmamabula coalfield and has touted the construction of a 1.3 million tonnes per annum mine to supply a 300 MW coal plant. However, Jindal has a chequered track record with coal mines after incurring “significant losses” on the Wongawilli mine and Russel Vale Colliery it owned and operated in Australia. (Economic Times, Global Energy Monitor)
India coal generation surges in 2022: Indian coal generation surged by over 10 per cent between March and October as power demand grew due to a heat wave and increased business demand as COVID-19 restrictions eased. The resources consultancy Wood Mackenzie estimates that Indian coal generation could increase by 10 per cent in 2022. Coal production by the government-owned Coal India reached record levels of 432 million tonnes from March to October, with imports surging by a quarter over the same period. Data by the climate policy think tank Ember indicates India and Japan are the only two countries in the Asia-Pacific region that increased the share of coal generation in the six months to October. (Reuters)
Analysts stress need for consultation over Indonesian transition plan: Indonesian energy sector analysts have welcomed the proposed US$20 billion Indonesia Just Energy Transition Partnership to boost renewables and reduce reliance on coal generation. Still, they have cautioned that projects must transparently address the needs of local communities and women, not just those already in the coal sector workforce. Tommy Pratama from Traction Energy Asia, an Indonesian think tank, said there is a need to establish good governance procedures over funding to avoid the potential for corruption, be open and transparent about decision making and involve civil society and local communities. He said there is a need to rehabilitate mine sites, modernise coal plants to reduce pollution and compensate fishing communities affected by the coal and power sectors. Alloysius Joko Purwanto, an energy economist at the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia, said Indonesia’s transition strategy should support current coal sector workers and women with skills for the transition to renewables. (Reuters)
Concern over China’s push to rely on CCS with coal-fuelled hydrogen: A report by the International Energy Agency and the Administrative Centre for China’s Agenda 21 proposes adding carbon capture and storage (CCS) to China’s coal-to-hydrogen production plants as a “key strategy” for reducing emissions. The report estimates China produced 33 million tonnes of hydrogen in 2020, with two-thirds derived from coal. China produces about 30 per cent of global hydrogen. The report estimates China could produce coal-derived hydrogen with CCS for between US$1.4 and US$3.1 per kilogram (kg). In comparison, the cost of hydrogen produced from renewables is estimated to be between US$3.1 and US$9.7 per kg. Some analysts argue that hydrogen from coal with CCS should be used until the renewable derived fuel costs decrease. Shen Xinyi from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air said, “only green hydrogen” can achieve China’s dual goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the use of clean energy. (South China Morning Post)
China’s Climate Transition: Outlook 2022, Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, November 2022. (Pdf) (Chinese version here.)
This 94-page report tracks China’s climate transition against 19 different benchmarks from a survey of 26 Chinese energy sector analysts.