Japan’s Environment Minister warns industry on coal power: Japan's Environment Minister, Masaharu Nakagawa, has warned the chairman of Japan Business Federation, Sadayuki Sakakibara, that companies should reconsider involvement in overseas coal projects due to growing international concern. Nakagawa also told the industry lobby group that, as other countries shifted away from coal power, Japanese companies risked being excluded from global energy deals and finance. Renewable generation in Japan has grown from 9 per cent in 2012 to 15 per cent in 2016. (NHK News, Renewable Energy Institute)
Thai energy minister says southern coal plants may be dumped: The Minister for Energy in Thailand’s military government, Siri Jirapongphan, has suggested that two proposed coal plants in the country’s south could be shelved in a revision of the national Power Development Plan. The plan is due to be released in March. Despite strong community opposition and preference for renewable power, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) has aggressively lobbied for the proposed 800 megawatt (MW) Krabi project and the 2200 MW Thepha plant. An anonymous EGAT source insists the utility has received no formal advice to drop the projects. (Phuket Gazette, The Nation)
German coalition negotiators seek to resolve energy differences: Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democrats have tentatively resolved their energy policy difference and agreed to meet the 2020 emissions reduction target “as far as possible” and establish a commission to detail a plan for phasing out coal power generation. They also agreed to increase the share of renewable power to 65 per cent by 2030 from the current target of 50 per cent. The formation of a coalition government between the two parties has yet to be finalised. (Clean EnergyWire, EnergyTransition)
Water shortages hit Indian coal plants: A report by the World Resources Institute has found that 14 of India’s 20 top power utilities experienced water shortages at their coal, gas or nuclear plants on at least one occasion between 2013 and 2016. The report finds that 40 per cent of India’s thermal power plants — which are predominantly coal-fired — are located in high water-stress areas. The report estimates water-stressed thermal power plants could potentially increase to 70 per cent of the country’s capacity by 2040 unless rapid action is taken to address climate change. (Reuters, World Resources Institute)
Study finds big gains from targeted pollution control efforts: A study published in Nature estimates that the retirement or installation of pollution controls on just 0.8 per cent of the world’s coal plant capacity could reduce PM2.5 fine particle emissions by between 7.7 and 14.2 per cent. It also estimates that in India and China the retirement of coal plants representing 1.8 per cent and 0.8 per cent of national power capacity could cut PM2.5 fine particle emissions by 13.2 per cent and 16 per cent respectively. (Nature)
“Japan’s coal expansion drive is criticized roundly by international environmental groups, a situation that is threatening to put the nation into international isolation along with the United States, where the Trump administration is promoting the use of coal as a fuel for power generation,”
states a powerful editorial in the widely respected Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun.