November 9, 2023
Issue 489  |  View Past Issues
Published by Global Energy Monitor

Editor's Note

Indonesia’s draft just energy transition plan reveals more about the politics of the country’s energy sector than it does about the technical potential for a rapid shift to renewable electricity generation. Incumbent coal generators are protected, with retirements delayed for over a decade. The boom in captive coal plants is set aside for a separate plan and excluded from the emissions reduction cap.

In South Africa, Eskom and the government are signalling a preparedness to retreat from coal closures included in the 2019 power development plan, primarily because of continued load shedding caused by unreliable coal plants and the utility’s bleak financial position. Eskom, which has long downplayed the death toll associated with pollution from its coal fleet, acknowledges it hasn’t assessed the health effects of delaying plant retirements.

In India, the government is pushing for a rapid expansion in new coal capacity and a further round of coal block auctions. One of the beneficiaries of past coal block sales is Adani, the controversial company that has emerged as the country’s largest private power utility and coal importer.

Bob Burton


Battered on all fronts, the insurance industry struggles to rise to climate challenge

The global insurance industry has suffered a financial hit from climate-exacerbated natural disasters and a reputational one because of its role in continuing to insure and invest in high-carbon fossil fuel assets, writes Mike Scott in Reuters.

Coal’s future in Africa is (still) dim

Despite concern that coal power generation may boom in Africa, a review of projects finds only two – one in South Africa and another in Zimbabwe – are likely to be commissioned, write Hamna Tariq and Todd Moss in the Energy for Growth Hub.

As US coal miners suffer and die from severe black lung, a proposed fix may fall short

The US Mine Safety and Health Administration has proposed a new silica dust exposure limit for coal miners twice as tough as it is now, but the agency has vastly underestimated the occurrence of complicated black lung disease, write Howard Berkes, Justin Hicks and Allen Siegler for NPR.

Coal dust continues to plague communities in Virginia, US. Residents are sceptical that change will come.

Residents in the suburbs adjoining two coal terminals in Virginia doubt that a new air monitoring study will tell them anything more than they already know: that coal dust from rail wagons and the terminals pollutes their homes and suburbs, writes Josh Janney in the Virginian Pilot.

Top News

Indonesia pushes back coal closures until after 2035: The Indonesian government’s draft Comprehensive Investment and Policy Plan for the Just Energy Transition Plan has dropped initial plans to retire one-sixth of its coal fleet by 2030 and is now proposing to delay coal plant closures until after 2035. Instead of early coal closures, the plan proposes spending US$1.3 billion by 2030 on retrofitting coal plants to allow more flexible operation to support a higher level of renewable generation. While the plan proposes a greenhouse gas emissions target of 250 million tonnes by 2030 compared to the original proposal of 290 million tonnes, captive coal plants supplying industries such as nickel smelters are now excluded from the target. A separate plan for decarbonising the captive power sector is under development. An analysis of the plan by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) argues there is 7400 MW of coal capacity that should retire before 2035 based on a 30-year life span assumed in the plan and that a further 1600 MW of coal capacity is expected to be commissioned after 2025. CREA notes the draft plan proposes the installation of only 32,000 MW of solar capacity by 2030 and argues there is an “excessive focus” on biomass and hydropower. (Climate Home News, Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, Government of Indonesia [Pdf])

German utility abandons challenge against Dutch coal exit law: The German power utility RWE has abandoned its international arbitration case against the Netherlands over the law banning coal generation after 2030. RWE owns the 1600 MW Eemshaven power station. In 2021, RWE filed a claim before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) seeking €1.4 billion (US$1.5 billion) in compensation arguing the coal ban legislation breached the provisions of the Energy Charter Treaty. RWE decided to end its proceedings after the German Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe ruled that the arbitration clause in the Energy Charter Treaty is incompatible with the European Union law. In separate proceedings, RWE and Uniper have lodged appeals against a District Court of The Hague decision that the government does not have to compensate the utilities as the law banning coal generation after 2030 was “lawful, proportionate and foreseeable”. (Netherlands House of Representatives [Dutch], Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations)

China releases methane emissions plan that lacks reduction targets: China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment has released a strategy to cut methane emissions, including from the coal mining sector. The plan says China will capture 6 billion cubic metres of methane gas from coal mines by 2025 for power generation. However, Yan Qin from the financial data firm said, “The objectives mentioned in the plan are too ambiguous and contain mainly descriptive text, no specific targets in methane emissions reduction”. China accounts for more than 14 per cent of global methane emissions but has refused to join the Global Methane Pledge that aims to cut methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030. The environmental research group Kayrros estimates that Chinese coal mines account for 28 per cent of the world’s biggest methane emissions point sources. (Reuters, Reuters)

German finance minister speaks out against 2030 coal end-date: Germany’s Minister for Finance, Christian Lindner, has spoken out against the prospect of the 2038 coal power phase-out being accelerated to 2030. “As long as it is not clear that energy will be available and affordable, we should end the dreams of phasing out coal power in 2030,” he said. Lindner is the parliamentary leader of the pro-business Free Democrats, one of the three parties in the governing coalition that also includes the Social Democrats and the Greens. The coalition agreement between the three parties stated that “ideally” the end date be brought forward to 2030, but states in the country’s east have rejected or criticised an accelerated closure schedule. RWE, the largest German utility, is lobbying the government to fast-track approval for new gas plants if coal plant closures are brought forward. (Clean Energy Wire, Clean Energy Wire)

Eskom reveals it hasn’t modelled health impacts of delayed coal closures: Eskom estimates the death toll from its power stations at 330 people a year, far lower than independent modelling that suggests the annual death toll could be as high as 2000 people a year. The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air recently estimated that delaying coal plant closures, as Eskom and government ministers are currently considering, could lead to 15,000 additional deaths compared to the current schedule of closures proposed in the government’s 2019 power development plan. Eskom said it “has not undertaken a specific study on the [health] impact of extending the life of its stations”. (Engineering News)

South African court rejects appeal over sale of Gupta-linked coal mine: The Supreme Court of Appeal has upheld a High Court of Pretoria decision approving a National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) application to block the sale of the Optimum Coal Mine and Terminal to Templar Capital’s Liberty Coal, a company owned by Daniel McGowan, a former associate of the Gupta family. The mine was bought from Glencore in December 2015 by Tegeta Exploration and Resources, a Gupta family company, with financial support from Eskom. The transaction was reviewed by the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture. After the Gupta brothers fled South Africa, the mine was put into administration, with Liberty Coal set to acquire the mine. The NPA sought to block the sale under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act because the mine had been bought with the proceeds of crime and was used to launder funds. (News24)

Meeting expresses alarm at revived Canadian coal project: Over 100 participants in an online forum organised by the Opposition New Democrat Party voiced alarm about the impacts of Northback Holdings’ proposed Grassy Mountain metallurgical coal mine in Alberta. Concerns were raised about the project’s likely impact on First Nations treaty rights, water pollution and effects on at-risk species, including trout and grizzly bears. Northback Holdings, previously known as Benga Mining, is a subsidiary of Hancock Prospecting, the private company of right-wing mining magnate Gina Rinehart, Australia’s richest woman. Northback Holdings has applied to the Alberta Energy Regulator for coal exploration and water diversion licences. In June 2021, a joint state and federal panel rejected the proposed mine as “not in the public interest” and stated that it would have “significant adverse effects” on three First Nations groups’ physical and cultural heritage. (Calgary Herald)


Australia: Centennial Coal, a subsidiary of the Thai company Banpu, has applied to pump ten megalitres of mostly untreated water a day from Angus Place Colliery into Sydney’s water catchment.

Canada: The Canadian Association of Journalists has expressed alarm at a decision by the Coal Association of Canada to refuse a media pass to a reporter from The Narwhal to cover the lobby group’s annual conference.

India: The Supreme Court of India has granted an interim order to protect two journalists from being arrested by Gujarat police over an August 2023 article revealing key investors in Adani Group companies.

India: On November 15, the Minister for Coal, Pralhad Joshi, will announce plans to auction another 40 coal blocks.

Kenya: Residents have called on Governor Julius Malombe to reject proposals to mine coal in the Mui basin.

Mozambique: The Indian government-owned Steel Authority of India has expressed interest in expanding the coal production capacity at the Benga and Zambeze mines.

Poland: Construction work on a proposed Gaming and Technology HUB is set to begin in 2024 on the site of the former Wieczorek coal mine.

US: The Maryland Public Service Commission has ordered an audit of Potomac Edison after the utility admitted it charged Maryland consumers US$1.7 million for payments to groups at the heart of the Ohio corruption scandal over bailouts for two coal and two nuclear plants.

US: The National Transportation Safety Board said its investigation into the October 15 BNSF Railway coal train derailment in Colorado that killed a truck driver will focus on track maintenance and inspection procedures.

Companies + Markets

US coal generation plumbs new lows: US Energy Information Administration (EIA) data reveals that US coal power generation has fallen to below 20 per cent for every month of the year to date. The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis notes that coal power generation has fallen every month in 2023 compared to the same months the year before. The EIA estimates that coal power generation will decline in November compared to the same period in 2022, with the outlook for further falls in 2024. The EIA estimates US coal output in 2024 could fall by 115 million short tons (104 million tonnes) to 466 million tons (423 million tonnes). The agency estimates coal production from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming could plummet by 30 per cent or 73 million short tons (66 million tonnes) to 246 million short tons (22 million tonnes). (Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis)

Indian government pushes to expand coal capacity rapidly: The Minister for Power, RK Singh, said India is looking to increase coal generation capacity by about 12,000 MW by the end of March 2024 to keep up with the rapid increase in electricity demand. Singh said that the government aims to support the construction of an additional 80,000 MW of coal capacity, up from the 25,000 MW public sector utilities proposed. The Ministry of Power Secretary, Pankaj Agarwal, said 75,000 MW of new thermal capacity, mostly mine-mouth plants, would be added by 2032. The ministry has written to state-owned utilities, encouraging them to participate in National Company Law Tribunal proceedings to rescue stressed power plants and boost overall generating capacity. The note to state and federal utilities identified three coal power plants with a combined capacity of 6300 MW. (Livemint, Ministry of Power [Pdf])

India says it will modify local tax to counter Europe’s carbon border tax: India’s Minister for Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal, said that India is likely to modify its tax regime to collect levies from the sectors exposed to the European Union’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) that will apply to export sectors including steel, aluminium, cement, fertiliser and hydrogen. Almost one-quarter of India’s iron, steel and aluminium exports are shipped to Europe. The CBAM tax is scheduled to come into effect from January 1, 2026. “If we collect the tax in India itself and use it for our own green energy transition, there will be no additional tax at the European border,” Goyal said. (Deccan Herald)

Adani’s coal trading revenue slumps: In its quarterly report to shareholders, Adani Enterprises reported a 41 per cent decline in revenue from its group to 225 billion rupees (US$2.7 billion), mainly due to the decline in its coal trading unit. Adani Enterprises’ businesses include coal mining, renewables and infrastructure projects such as airports. While revenue from Adani’s coal trading division dropped by 59 per cent to 124.7 billion rupees (US$1.5 billion), profit fell only by 10 per cent due to margins of 8.2 per cent, up the 3.7 per cent reported for the same period in 2022. In October, the Financial Times revealed customs records indicated that the value of some Adani coal cargoes increased substantially between the leaving port and arrival in India. Adani Enterprises shares have fallen 43 per cent this year, primarily driven by the Hindenburg Research report released in January, which alleged the company had breached Indian corporate law. The company denies any wrongdoing. A court-ordered investigation has yet to finalise its investigation. (Financial Times,

Eskom’s financial woes continue: South Africa’s state-owned utility, Eskom, has reported a net loss after tax for the year to the end of March 2023 of 23.9 billion rand (US$1.3 billion) due to increased reliance on diesel generation and a five per cent fall in electricity sales. Eskom’s loss doubled compared to the year before and occurred despite a 9.6 per cent tariff increase. The average energy availability factor for Eskom’s fleet of mostly coal plants for the year to date is just under 55 per cent, down three per cent on 2022. Eskom’s latest Medium-Term System Adequacy Outlook for the 2024-28 period estimates that load shedding may ease in the next two years but then increase again. In one scenario, Eskom modelled no additional coal plant closures by 2028 compared to the 6105 MW assumed in previous forecasts. The study also downgrades Eskom’s assumed 4800 MW of rooftop solar to 3200 MW, with an annual growth of 880 MW in each of the next five years. (MoneyWeb, MoneyWeb, Eskom, Eskom [Pdf])

UN report urges ending “near total phase-out” of coal production by 2040: A United Nations Environment Programme report estimates that if all proposed coal mining projects proceed, it will lead to a 460 per cent increase in production by 2030. The 2023 Production Gap Report by the Stockholm Environment Institute identifies India and Russia as the countries proposing the most significant increases in coal production, with smaller increases by Australia, Colombia and Indonesia. The report notes that while major fossil fuel producers have pledged to achieve net-zero emissions, none have committed to reducing coal production in line with the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperature increase to 1.5°C over pre-industrial temperatures. The report warns that “given risks and uncertainties of carbon capture and storage and carbon dioxide removal”, governments must aim for “a near total phase-out of coal production and use by 2040”. (Guardian, Stockholm Environment Institute)

Green Steel Transition

UK steelworks to close blast furnaces and build electric arc replacements: British Steel has announced it will close two blast furnaces at its iron and steelworks at Scunthorpe, with unions estimating up to 2000 jobs could be lost with the switch to two new electric arc furnaces. British Steel’s plan includes spending up to £1.25 billion (US$1.5 billion) on two new electric arc furnaces, one at its Scunthorpe site and the second in Teesside, where the company already operates a steel distribution centre. British Steel, owned by the Chinese steel producer Jingye, said the new furnaces could operate by late 2025. British Steel is reportedly seeking £500 million (US$615 million) from the UK government to match funding announced for Tata Steel to convert its two blast furnaces at the Port Talbot steel works. British Steel said it had ruled out building one large electric arc furnace at Scunthorpe as it would have required a new National Grid connection that would not be available until 2034. British Steel’s chief executive, Xijun Cao, said decarbonising the blast furnaces by adding carbon capture and storage units is “not viable”. (Guardian, British Steel)


“Coal Market Update: Carlos Fernández Alvarez, Senior Coal Analyst, International Energy Agency”, Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, October 31, 2023.

This 55-minute interview with the International Energy Agency’s senior coal analyst provides a valuable overview of the factors affecting coal production and use.