May 12, 2022
Issue 416  |  View Past Issues
Published by Global Energy Monitor

Editor's Note

Legal cases over coal projects have been prominent over the last week. Turkey’s new government policy allowing new coal projects in olive-growing areas has been set aside pending a review. The Supreme Court has overturned approval for a new coal railway line in Goa in India. The Indian Supreme Court has also dismissed an appeal by the controversial coal developer Adani against a fine over mine pollution. In the Philippines, the country’s Commission on Human Rights investigation into the impact of extreme climate events on human rights has condemned significant fossil fuel producers for delaying action on global heating. The World Bank’s Ombudsman has also criticised the International Finance Corporation for funding new coal plants in the Philippines. While the decisions in some of these cases are temporary wins at this stage, they highlight the increasing pressure on every step of coal projects.

The financial costs of coal power have also been highlighted as countries such as India and South Africa grapple with their overreliance on coal power. The Indian Government’s push to require all idled coal power plants reliant on imported coal to run at full capacity may avoid a short-term power crisis but will drive the cost of power up and make the finances of distribution utilities even more perilous. In South Africa, the cost of delaying a shift to renewables is evident daily, with many coal units idled because of breakdowns resulting in relentless announcements about new load shedding restrictions.

Bob Burton


How ownership of railways entrenches Adani Ports’ addiction to coal

The ownership of coal railways in Australia and India by Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone has embedded that company in the global coal industry, writes Nihar Gokhale in The Morning Context.

Filipino inquiry finds big polluters ‘morally and legally liable’ for climate damage

A Philippines Commission on Human Rights inquiry concluded that coal, oil, mining and cement firms engaged in “wilful obfuscation” of climate science and obstructed efforts towards a global transition to clean energy, writes Isabella Kaminski in the Guardian.

Top News

Court rules against Indian coal railway plan for Goa: India’s Supreme Court has set aside a decision of the National Board for Wildlife allowing the construction of a second rail line between Castlerock in Karnataka and Kulem in Goa to facilitate increased coal shipments. The court ruled the project would “invite a great disaster in the sensitive areas of the Western Ghats”. Opposition to the proposed railway included a mass occupation of the existing rail track, which is used to carry coal from the port of Goa to industrial users in neighbouring Karnataka. A committee established by the court reported the project was “inefficient”, “unjustified” and “potentially destructive”. The court has allowed Rail Vikas Nigam, an arm of Indian Railways, to resubmit a revised proposal. Civil society groups and the Congress party have called for the project to be scrapped and criminal cases against local activists dropped. (Times of India, Times of India, Times of India)

Turkish court freezes policy allowing mining in olive groves: A Turkish administrative court has suspended a decision by the government to allow new coal mining projects in olive-growing areas. The Council of State ruled it needed time to scrutinise the court’s decision due to the apparent conflict with an existing law governing olive farming, a major industry in the country. The court also indicated that the government’s decision might be contrary to the public interest. (Olive Oil Times)

World Bank Ombudsman condemns Philippines lending: In a damning report, the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private lending arm of the World Bank, has found the agency breached its own environmental and social policies by backing coal projects in the Philippines. The report followed a 2017 complaint by the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), an umbrella group of Philippines civil society organisations, which pointed out that the IFC funded at least 10 new coal-fired power plants in the country between 2011 and 2019. Aaron Pedrosa, PMCJ’s legal advisor, said the IFC should pay reparations for the damage caused as communities “are still experiencing the same pollution and the corporations have been treated with impunity.” (Eco-Business, Compliance Advisor Ombudsman [Pdf])

Finnish railway terminates Russian coal agreements after protest: The Finnish state-owned railway company, VR, has announced it had terminated contracts to carry Russian coal to the port of Loviisa and would “stop the transports as quickly as possible”. VR’s statement occurred after Greenpeace staged a protest at Helsinki Central Railway Station, calling for a ban on the shipment of Russian coal. The week before the protest, VR said it would continue to carry Russian coal cargoes until the end of the year if demand from customers continued. (Yle, Greenpeace [Finnish])

Indian court dismisses Adani appeal against mine pollution fine: India’s Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by an Adani Group subsidiary Raipur Energen against a decision by the National Green Tribunal to fine the company 25 million rupees (US$327,000) for violating environmental rules at the Talabira I coal mine in Odisha. Adani and previous owners Hindalco Industries could be subject to further fines of up to 75 million rupees (US$980,000) pending the final recommendations of a six-member expert panel that inspected the site in late March. (Adani Watch)

Adani pushes Australian Government to guarantee coal mining insurance: Ahead of the May 21 national election, the chief executive of Adani Australia, Lucas Dow, has called on political parties to commit to the establishment of a government-backed A$1.5 billion (US$1 billion) insurance fund for coal mining companies. To date, no parties have backed the proposal. In part, booming coal prices have added billions to coal company profits. A government-backed scheme would primarily benefit Adani’s controversial Carmichael coal project, which has been blacklisted by a growing list of financial and insurance companies. Adani is owned by Indian billionaire Gautam Adani, the world’s fifth-wealthiest man. (Australian Financial Review [paywall], InQueensland)


Australia: Maules Creek Coal, a subsidiary of Whitehaven, has been fined A$158,000 (US$110,000) over three incidents when sediment-laden water escaped from the mine site.

Australia: Experts dismiss claim algae could capture any more than a fraction of a coal plant’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Botswana: Coal producers in Botswana commence their first exports through the Mozambican port of Maputo.

New Zealand: Government announces plan to phase out the use of coal boilers for heating by 2025.

US: Cleaner air and solar plants on Navajo Nation land after Peabody Energy’s Black Mesa coal mine closure.

US: Fire shuts down the 654 megawatt (MW) Unit 8 at NRG’s W.A. Parish Generating Station in Texas. Part of the unit’s emissions were previously  captured by the now mothballed Petra Nova Carbon Capture and Storage project.

Companies + Markets

South African coal fleet breakdowns driving increased load shedding: Data compiled by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, a government-owned research agency, reveals load shedding over the first four months of 2022 is running at far higher levels than in 2021. Eskom has warned consumers it currently has 15,762 MW of capacity unavailable due to breakdowns, with a further 3049 MW on planned maintenance. Eskom does not detail the units offline by fuel type, but those mentioned as having tripped are coal units. Eskom wants consumers to limit consumption in the morning and afternoon peaks as far as possible, with load shedding likely to be concentrated in the evening. As a wave of coal plant retirements looms, Eskom’s Chief Operations Officer, Jan Oberholzer, has called on the government to update its energy plan urgently. Energy policy analyst, Chris Yelland, said the crisis illustrated that Eskom is “unable to deal with this matter on its own through increased maintenance or delaying the decommissioning of old, poorly performing coal-fired power stations.” (Daily Maverick, Mail & Guardian, News24, Eskom)

Philippines banks bypass loans but use bonds to support coal projects: Withdraw from Coal, a Philippines watchdog group found six Philippine banks provided financial support for new coal projects despite some having ruled it out. The report found that UnionBank, BDO, China Bank, Metrobank, Security Bank and RCBC were all involved in supporting bonds sold for AboitizPower. The utility is the most significant new coal project developer in the country, building GNPower’s 1336 MW Dinginin and 690 MW Mariveles plants. The report, which reviewed the activities of 16 financial institutions, found there were no direct coal loans, but support was channelled through underwriting and selling bonds to companies developing projects. (Philippines Star, Withdraw from Coal [Pdf])

Chinese central bank boosts support for coal: The People’s Bank of China, the central bank, has announced it will provide a further 100 billion yuan (US$15 billion) to support the expansion of coal production and increased storage to support increased coal generation. The increased support for the coal industry comes in the wake of curtailed coal generation and blackouts in late 2021 and the determination to stimulate the construction sector. (Global Times, Xinhua)

Vale offloads its Mozambique coal mine and railroad: Vale, a major Brazilian mining company, has concluded the sale of its Moatize mine in Mozambique and the 912-kilometre railway to the port of Nacala to Indian company Vulcan Minerals. Vulcan Minerals, a subsidiary of the Indian-headquartered Jindal Group, bought the mine for US$270 million, plus a royalty for the next ten years. In 2021 the Moatize mine produced 8.5 million tonnes of coal, with just over half as thermal coal. Jindal also owns the Chirodzi coal mine in Mozambique. With the sale, Vale has completed its exit from coal assets. (All, Vale)

Report says steel industry shift will hit PCI coal first: An Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis report notes that steel producers are looking to replace Australian and Russian pulverised coal injection (PCI) coal with hydrogen as an initial stage in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. PCI coal is high-quality thermal coal that can also be blended with metallurgical coal in blast furnaces. With PCI coal and metallurgical coal selling at very high prices in the seaborne market and steel producers looking to cut emissions, the use of hydrogen is an increasingly attractive option. A downturn in PCI demand will cut returns for producers as they sell into the lower-priced thermal coal market. (Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis)

India announces a plan to reopen closed mines: India’s Secretary of Coal, Anil Kumar Jain, has announced plans to increase coal production by up to 100 million tonnes in the next three years by offering closed mines to private mining companies. Anonymous government officials said they would “cut out the red tape” on up to 100 closed mines and encourage bids from mining companies such as Vedanta and Adani. With a rebound in power demand after COVID-19 restrictions were eased and a surge in demand due to a recent heatwave, Indian power utilities have run down stockpiles or idled plants because of the high global price of imported coal. At a separate event, the Minister of Coal, Pralhad Joshi, promoted the option of India producing hydrogen from coal resources and touted the Ministry of Coal policy of offering a financial incentive for coal gasification. (Reuters, Bol News)

Indian Government orders shuttered units to generate despite the cost: To boost power generation capacity, the Modi government has used powers under the Electricity Act to require all power plants reliant on imported coal to run at full capacity until October 31. The decision is estimated to affect about 7600 MW of plants, including those owned by Essar Power, Adani Power and Tata Power. Adani Power and Tata Power have idled units at their Mundra plants due to underestimating the cost of imported coal when entering into binding power purchase agreements with state distribution utilities. The government proposes that the cost of power from the stalled units be determined by a committee comprising representatives of the Ministry of Power, the Central Electricity Authority, and the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission. The decision will also affect stranded coal plants currently involved in proceedings before the National Company Law Tribunal, India’s bankruptcy court. (Economic Times)


Coal power transition in China: A discussion paper: Executive Summary, Ember, May 2022. (Pdf) (The full report is only available in Chinese.)

This report reviews coal power development in China during the 2016–2020 period of the 13th Five-Year Plan.

Stranded Assets in the Coal Export Industry? The Case of the Australian Galilee Basin, German Institute for Economic Research, May 2022. (Pdf)

This 47-page discussion paper argues that because of a global shift in thermal coal demand, new coal mines in the Galilee Basin, such as Adani’s Carmichael mine, are not economically viable in the long run and are prone to becoming stranded assets.

National Inquiry on Climate Change Report Philippines Commission on Human Rights, May 2022.

This 161-page report reviewed the impact of climate damage on the human rights of Philippines citizens and the role in the climate crisis played by 47 of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters.