July 28, 2022
Issue 427  |  View Past Issues
Published by Global Energy Monitor

Editor's Note

Pakistan’s decision to cancel the proposed Gwadar coal plant and replace it with a solar project illustrates how the high cost of imported thermal coal is winnowing out projects that were already struggling to attract finance. However, Pakistan is also touting the possibility of converting two existing imported coal plants to run on low-grade lignite from the Thar desert. This would avoid the cost of coal imports but further increase social and environmental impacts in local communities. As one article notes, the children living in Pakistan’s coalfields bear a high health cost, especially from respiratory diseases such as asthma. Pakistan is also pursuing imports of cheap coal from Afghanistan, but that is fuelling tensions between local strongmen and the central Taliban government.

The South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, has unveiled a plan to reform the country’s power supply options in a desperate bid to end the long-running load shedding that is having profound effects on every level of society. Most commentators have welcomed the plan’s core elements – increased renewables, batteries, storage, feed-in tariffs for rooftop solar and major industries with surplus capacity from captive power plants. The two coal plants mooted in the last power plan didn’t rate a mention. Civil society groups have welcomed the increase in renewables and batteries but said there are many questions that require clarification.

Bob Burton


Children’s health is the collateral damage of Pakistan’s coal

The incidence of asthma and other respiratory diseases is high among the children living near the open-cut coal mines in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, writes Rafiullah Mandokhail in The Third Pole.

Mining giant Glencore’s Australian PR blitz forgets the coal driving the climate crisis

Glencore has launched a marketing and advertising campaign in Australia tagged “Advancing everyday life” but omits any mention of the US$10.9 billion in revenue in the last two years from thermal coal, writes Graham Readfearn in the Guardian.

Mining firms blow cold on India’s plan to dig deep for coal

The Indian Government has called for bids on up to 20 mothballed underground mines to boost domestic coal production. However, few firms show interest due to poor technology and safety risks, writes Roli Srivastava for the Thomson Reuters News Foundation.


Pakistan cancels Gwadar coal plant

Pakistan’s Ministry of Energy has cancelled approvals for the proposed 300 megawatt (MW) Gwadar coal plant and wants a solar farm established at the site. The Pakistan Government first mooted the project in 2014 as an imported coal project to be funded through the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) program. The project was subsequently approved and land for the plant was purchased but financial support was unresolved. The spike in international fuel prices, including coal, has cost US$20 billion in the 11 months to the end of May. The government has also signalled it wants to convert the new 1320 MW Port Qasim plant, 1320 MW Sahiwal power plant and 1320 MW Hub plant from using imported coal to domestic brown coal from Thar province. (The News)

Top News

South Africa seeks extradition of Gupta brothers: South Africa’s Justice Minister Ronald Lamola has formally filed a request with the United Arab Emirates to extradite Atul and Rajesh Gupta to face fraud charges over an alleged 25 million rand (US$1.5 million) agricultural feasibility study. The Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture in South Africa named the brothers as having engaged in securing contracts and favours from government agencies and businesses, including Eskom and Transnet, through their influence with then-President Jacob Zuma and his government. The extradition process could take several years. In separate proceedings, the senior counsel for the National Prosecuting Authority described Tegeta Exploration and Resources, a Gupta family company, as having used the Optimum Coal Mine it bought from Glencore with financial assistance from Eskom as “an industrial-strength money-laundering machine” to launder “offshore Gupta proceeds of crime.” (Aljazeera)

US port developer revives legal case over Oakland coal terminal plan: Uncertainty surrounds a proposed out-of-court settlement between the City of Oakland and Oakland Bulk & Oversized Terminal and developer Phil Tagami to settle a legal challenge over the council’s 2016 ban on exporting coal. Lawyers for the Oakland Bulk & Oversized Terminal and Tagami have applied to Alameda County Superior Court to resume the process of discovering documents held by the City of Oakland for use in a trial scheduled for April 2023. The ban on coal exports from the port redevelopment in West Oakland was adopted after residents and environmental groups discovered the port proposal included plans to ship millions of tonnes of coal from Utah to the Asian market. In 2018 Oakland terminated Tagami’s lease over the port on the grounds he hadn’t met agreed construction commitments, leading Tagami to file a legal claim against the city for breach of contract. The city has countersued. A lawyer for a hedge fund that owns a company listed as a tenant for the terminal wrote to the Sierra Club stating “coal is back on the table.” (The Oaklandside)

Pakistan reaches an agreement on importing Afghan coal: Afghanistan has agreed to expedite coal exports by truck through the borders at Kharlachi and Ghulam Khan in Pakistan. Pakistan’s Secretary of Commerce, Sualeh Faruqui, headed a government delegation to Kabul to ensure coal shipments for the 1320 MW Hub and 1320 MW Sahiwal plants which are otherwise reliant on expensive imported coal. In return for expediting the clearance of trucks across the border into Pakistan, the Afghan Government sought support for duty-free imports, especially food items. (Dawn)

Adani launches defamation action against Indian journalist: The Adani Group has launched a criminal defamation lawsuit against Indian freelance journalist Ravi Nair who has written investigative articles about the connections between the Modi Government and the company. Nair said that he was not given a copy of the complaint before being served with an arrest warrant by New Delhi police and is unsure what article or social media post triggered Adani’s action. Nair is scheduled to appear before a trial court later this month in Gujarat, where Adani is headquartered. (The Wire)

Greenpeace report finds Chinese coal plant approval accelerating: A Greenpeace East Asia report estimates the Chinese provincial government approved power plant proposals for 8630 MW in the first three months of 2022, compared to 18,548 MW cleared in 2021. Two-thirds of the additions in 2021 and the first quarter of 2022 are in just six provinces. Of the 12 proposed power plants approved since the start of 2021, the planning documents for seven justified the project on the grounds they were “supplementing shortcomings in local power generation.” Other reasons for the projects included supporting the transfer of power from the west to eastern provinces, “taking advantage of local resources”, and “updating generation capacity to be more efficient”. The data illustrates how Chairman Xi Jinping’s April 2021 commitment to “strictly control the expansion of coal power” was superseded by state-owned utilities pushing for the construction of new plants after power blackouts in September last year. (Reuters, Greenpeace East Asia)

No coal funding in China’s Belt and Road Initiative so far in 2022: A review by the Green Finance and Development Center at Fudan University found that of the US$28.4 billion in finance and investments funded under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in the first half of 2022 none were for coal projects. In September 2021, China ruled out support for constructing new coal power plants overseas. However, a March 2022 guidance on the greening of the BRI left unresolved how approved projects where construction had not commenced would be treated. The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air estimated in April that 11,200 MW of coal power projects are in this category. The treatment of captive coal plants, such as a 1520 MW proposed coal plant to supply a nickel smelter on Obi Island, is another loophole in the ban that has not been clarified. (Reuters, Green Finance and Development Center)


China: Ten miners died, and seven were injured in an accident at a coal mine near Baiyin in Gansu province.

India: Sponge iron mills look to import thermal coal from Mozambique as a cheaper alternative to South African exports.

India: Three thousand villagers rally calling for the West Bengal Power Development Corporation to suspend work on the proposed Deocha Pachami mine.

India: Five state and three national publicly owned businesses have offered to surrender 11 undeveloped coal blocks. The Modi Government wants to reallocate the blocks.

Sri Lanka: Coal stocks dwindle for 900 MW Norochcholai plant as regulator warns US dollars aren’t available to replenish stockpiles.

US: Mobile Baykeeper warns Alabama Power it intends to sue the utility to remove coal ash from Plant Barry further from the banks of the Mobile River.

US: Lexington Coal Company was fined US$51,000 after being found in contempt for not submitting plans to clean up selenium and other pollution from two mines in West Virginia.

Companies + Markets

Regulator approves closure of three US coal units: Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) has voted to approve the closure of Georgia Power’s 1904 MW Plant Wansley and the 891 MW unit 3 at Plant Scherer Unit 3. The PSC also approved 2300 MW of new solar capacity, increased energy efficiency targets and new battery capacity. However, a decision on closing two coal units at Plant Bowen, which have a combined capacity of 1595 MW, was deferred until the 2025 integrated resource plan. Georgia Power is a subsidiary of Southern Company. A proposal to expand the rooftop solar program from the current cap of 5,000 customers to 75,000 was also defeated. The Sierra Club expressed disappointment at the decision to delay consideration of the closure of Plant Bowen and the commitment to approve power purchase agreements for 2356 MW of gas plant capacity. (Athens Banner-Herald, Sierra Club)

South African President unveils sweeping power sector changes: President Cyril Ramaphosa has unveiled proposals to end load shedding by expanding new generation capacity, including doubling the capacity sought in the August round of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme from 2600 MW to 5200 MW. He also announced the government would introduce a feed-in tariff for rooftop solar owners to sell surplus power back to Eskom. Eskom has also identified additional land available for leasing for privately owned generation projects. Ramaphosa said Eskom would buy surplus power from existing private generators, such as mines, and seek to increase power imports through the Southern African Power Pool from Botswana and Zambia. Civil society groups have welcomed the increase in renewables and batteries but said there are many questions that require clarification. The Life After Coal campaign notes the government decision to remove the 100 MW limit on “embedded” generation does not explicitly exclude new gas or coal projects from consideration. (Engineering News, President Cyril Ramaphosa)

Setbacks for German Government push to revive coal plants: The German Government is facing significant challenges to its short-term goal of restoring mothballed coal power plants and extending the operation units slated for closure. The government wants to reduce gas power generation and replenish storage ahead of winter due to reduced Russian exports. Germany’s energy regulator said EnBW would extend the life of a unit slated to close on October 1, but another seven units would not be recommissioned due to their age. The chemicals company Evonik said it would restart one small coal unit later in the year. Steag said it would reopen its plants but said imported coal would impose a significant financial outlay on the utility. Utilities reliant on imported coal also face transport challenges with low river levels limiting barge traffic and rail networks operating near capacity due to Ukrainian grain exports. (Reuters)

China’s largest coal miner expands production: China Energy Investment Corporation (CEIC) said that in the first half of 2022, it has increased coal production by 6.2 per cent to 300 million tonnes and gained approval to increase production by a further 58 million tonnes a year across 18 mine sites. CEIC produces about 17 per cent of China’s thermal power. In the first half of the year, the company commissioned two new coal plants and won approval for four projects: the 1000 MW unit 7 at the Hanchuan plant and two additional 660 MW units at each of the Zhoushan, Jiangyin and Chizhou plants. In a separate development, a senior official at the Ministry of Ecology and Environment said that the agency is seeking to accelerate the completion of environmental assessments on new coal mines. The official said that in the first half of the year, the agency approved 20 coal mine projects with a combined capacity of 125 million tonnes. (Bloomberg, China Daily)

India’s push for coal imports boosts Adani’s fortunes: NTPC, the Indian government-owned power utility, which generates about one-quarter of the country’s electricity, has awarded contracts to Adani Enterprises for 17.3 million tonnes of thermal coal out of a total of 20 million tonnes sought from the international market.  Adani is India’s largest coal importer, with Bloomberg Intelligence tipping that the company’s tender successes will boost the financial performance of its ports business. Coal India recently cancelled a short-term coal supply contract awarded to Adani for 2.4 million tonnes of imported coal after an Indonesian company offered to supply it for 2000 rupees per tonne (US$34.5 per tonne) cheaper. (Bloomberg)

Ten firms and wealth funds account for half of fossil fuel reserves: A paper published in the journal Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions estimates the 10 largest financial services firms and wealth management funds account for 49.5 per cent of potential emissions from the world’s remaining oil, gas and coal reserves. The ten most influential firms and advisers are Blackrock, Vanguard Group, State Street Corporation, Dimensional Fund Advisors, Fidelity Investments, Capital Group Company, the Indian Government’s State Government and Life Insurance Corporation, Saudi Arabia and Norges Bank. The authors compiled the list after reviewing the direct equity investments and investments in the world’s 200 largest fossil fuel firms which account for 98 per cent of the potential emissions. (Mining.com, University of Waterloo, Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions)

Japanese imports of Russian coal slide:  Japanese imports of Russian coal declined by 59.5 per cent to 765,000 tonnes in June compared to the previous year and were down by over 22 per cent on May levels. On April 8, the Japanese Government decided to ban coal imports, but the timeframe for when the restriction would take full effect was unspecified. In 2021 Japan imported 13.8 million tonnes of thermal coal and 5.8 million tonnes of metallurgical coal from Russia. (S & P Global)


“Pathways to an International Agreement to Leave Fossil Fuels in the Ground”, Global Environmental Politics, July 2020. (Pdf) (The abstract is here.)

This 20-page paper explores two possible pathways for international cooperation in supporting the managed decline of fossil fuel production: a club model and something like a multilateral environmental agreement.