July 3, 2014

Germany ponders the energy revolution required to keep coal in the ground

“Hailed by environmentalists as a model for how the world's nations can stop global warming, Germany's Energiewende is designed to virtually eliminate emissions and convert 60% of the country's energy production to renewables by 2050. But as the concept catches on in nations like China – which now leads the world in green power capacity and investment in renewables – cracks are emerging in the foundations, suggesting focusing on renewables will not be enough… In the short term that means grid-preference for flexible but reliable natural gas-power plants instead of cheaper lignite, as well as subsidies for electricity stored in batteries or converted to hydropower or hydrogen,” writes Jason Overdorf in China Dialogue.

Suggest Tweet: The next phase of the German energy revolution will be to keep #coal in the ground http://bit.ly/TvF9oU

The US Coal Lobby's Fight for Survival

“For a century, coal dominated America's energy landscape, cheaply fuelling the factories of the Rust Belt and lighting up homes across the country. King Coal also enjoyed almost unrivalled influence in Washington. On Capitol Hill, the muscular coal lobby routinely rolled its opponents. In particular, the clout of the coal lobby—and the money it doled out—was a major reason Congress has never enacted a serious climate-change law. Now all that's changing. Coal is under siege from forces beyond its control. Its dominant place in the American economy is slipping—and so, for the first time in a century, is its ability to get what it wants from Washington,” writes Coral Davenport in the National Journal.

Suggested Tweet: The US #Coal Lobby "now lies in disarray at the mercy of forces beyond its control" http://bit.ly/1qy05aU @nationaljournal 

top news

IPCC head sidesteps coal as an energy poverty solution: In an address to the United Nations in India, the Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Dr Rajendra Pachauri, argues for the “decarbonization of electricity generation” but notably did not embrace the coal industry’s claim that new coal-fired plants are needed to address energy poverty. Instead, Pachauri endorsed renewables, increased energy efficiency and the “replacement of world average coal-fired power plants with modern natural gas combined-cycle power plants.” He also tentatively endorsed carbon capture and storage but noted it had challenges “and risks”. (United Nations in India, Dr Pachauri)

Proposed new Australian export terminal heads for public hearing: Plans for a new 70 million-tonnes-per-annum (Mtpa) coal export terminal in Newcastle will be subject to a Planning Assessment Commission review within weeks. While Port Waratah Coal Services acknowledges there is currently no need for a new terminal, the New South Wales Department of Planning and Infrastructure has recommended the project proceed, despite objections of residents over air pollution and damage to wetlands. (Department of Planning and Infrastructure, ABC News)

Dutch NGO calls for end to imports of Colombian ‘blood coal’: The Dutch NGO PAX has called on five European power companies – Nuon, Essent, Delta, Electrabel and E.ON – to stop importing ‘blood coal’ produced by Drummond and Glencore subsidiary Prodeco from their mines in Colombia. The group is pressing the companies to acknowledge and compensate the families of victims of paramilitary violence and farmers who were dispossessed of land now used by the companies. (PAX)
South African utility defends power plant air pollution: A study commissioned by South African NGO groundWork estimates that just over one half of the deaths due to respiratory illness and cardiovascular disease from outdoor air pollution in the Highveld region in Mpumalanga province can be attributed to Eskom. The publicly-owned power utility operates 12 power stations in the region and is currently seeking the deferral of air pollution standards. Deferring Eskom’s need for compliance, says groundWork, would “in many cases” be “effectively exemption” from the standards. (News24, groundWork)

Judge blocks coal exploration plan: A US District Court judge has overturned decisions by the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approving a coal exploration program by Arch Coal in the Sunset Roadless Area in Western Colorado. In a case brought by a coalition of environmental groups the judge ruled that the BLM had not properly considered the impact on the climate of its decision to grant a coal lease to the company. Over 380 million tonnes of coal was produced from BLM lands in 2012. (The Denver Post, EarthJustice)

UK company at the heart of storm over Indian coal mine: A lobbying blitz by the UK-registered Essar Energy persuaded the former government to approve a major coal mine in the Mahan forest. The new government will consider whether to grant final approval for the mine, which would affect the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people who use the forest. “It seems they [Essar] want to build their mine even if it means the law of the land is bypassed,” said Greenpeace India campaigner Priya Pillai. (The Observer)

“We believe that any move to calculate the costs of carbon are misguided and deeply flawed unless they also capture the societal benefits of carbon, which studies show can be 50 to 500 times greater than the cost,”

said Vic Svec, the senior vice president of global investor and corporate relations for Peabody Energy.


Australia: Scientists’ doubts revealed about model used to justify Great Barrier Reef dumping.

Colombia: Comptroller demands action to clean up coal and other pollution in Santa Marta Bay.

India: Seminar told a billion tonnes of coal ash could be created a year by 2031.
Germany: 5600 megawatts (MW) of new coal plants to lose money as they add to power glut.

Vietnam: EGATi signs memorandum of understanding for 1200 MW Quang Tri plant.

Zimbabwe: China Machinery and Engineering stripped of Hwange plant expansion contract.

“It is arbitrary to offer detailed projections of a project’s upside while omitting a feasible projection of the project’s costs … In a nutshell, the agencies cannot claim that they are unable to predict the impacts of methane emissions because activities occurring under the rule are too speculative and then turn around and calculate down to the job and the nearest $100,000 the economic impacts of the rule,”

wrote US District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson in a judgment overturning decisions by the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to approve an coal exploration program proposed by Arch Coal

companies + markets

Samsung hopes power sale deal revives Kazakhstan power plant: Samsung is hoping that the signing of a 20 year US$4.9 billion power purchase agreement will enable it to raise finance for the 1320 MW Balkhash plant in Kazakhstan. The project, which is being proposed by Samsung and Korea Electric Power Corporation, has a history of stalling due to lack of finance. (Korea IT Times, CoalSwarm)

Indian Minister vows to expand domestic coal production: The Minister for Power, Coal and Renewable Energy, Piyush Goyal, has vowed to expand domestic coal production and increase solar generation. “To revive stalled investments and projects in the sector, to stop import of expensive coal by enhancing domestic mining, provide adequate fuel to power plants so that they run at 90 per cent plant load factor and reduce transmission and distribution losses,” he said. (The New Indian Express, The Times of India)

Appeal against Indian ruling for Tata Mundra progresses: The Appellate Tribunal for Electricity has completed a hearing on the first stage of an appeal against a Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) order requiring US$54 million be paid to Tata Power. Five state distribution utilities and an NGO are arguing that CERC cannot change the provisions of a power purchase agreement awarded by a tender process for the Tata Mundra Ultra Mega Project. (The Times of India)
West Australian government approves new coal port for Indian company: An Australian subsidiary of the Indian company Lanco has gained approval for the establishment of a new 12 Mtpa coal export terminal at the Port of Bunbury in Western Australia. While the company said it aims to begin construction in 2015, the Conservation Council of Western Australia has raised doubts about the financial viability of the project. (ABC News, ABC News)

BNEF charts the rise of renewables but coal still in the picture: Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimate that approximately 60% of new electricity capacity built by 2030 could be from renewables. BNEF estimates annual new coal capacity will decline substantially but that approximately 434 gigawatts (GW) of new coal plants – mostly based on “low cost domestic reserves” -- could be built in the Asia Pacific region, with India accounting for 155 GW of the total. (Bloomberg New Energy Finance)

“There is no relationship between the utilization of coal and climate change,”

said Gary Broadbent, the spokesman for Murray Energy, a US coal producer.

resources                      take action

Clear the Air: Eskom’s coal is a killer, groundWork, July 2014. (Pdf)

A study commissioned by the South African NGO groundWork reveals that Eskom’s dozen power plants imposes a heavy health cost on residents of the Highveld region in Mpumalanga province.

Building on 21st Century Coal, World Coal Association, May 24, 2014.
The World Coal Association has released the presentations from a workshop it recently held in Australia. While a few of the presentations focus on Australian issues, such as the Barrier Reef and the Hunter Valley, others promote the lobby group’s core themes of the need for carbon capture and storage, the growth of coal in Asia and India and coal as a solution to energy poverty.
The Dark Side of Coal, Pax, June 2014. (Pdf)
This report by the Dutch group PAX investigates allegations of direct and indirect support for Colombian paramilitaries by the coal mining companies Drummond and Glencore subsidiary Prodelco.

Correction: Last week CoalWire listed the CCS 2014: What lies in store for CCS? report. This report, which was also mentioned in the feature, was published by the International Energy Agency not the International Energy Agency's Clean Coal Centre.

Don't Risk the Reef

As a part of its 'Don't Risk the Reef' campaign the Australian Youth Climate Council is calling on Australian banks to publicly rule out any involvement in arranging or providing finance for new coal terminals at Abbot Point, and related coal mine and rail infrastructure. The online petition is here.

And a video which will make you laugh is here.

CoalWire is a weekly bulletin of coal-related news published by CoalSwarm. Please send material which you think should be included or suggestions for features to editor@coalwire.org

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