May 22, 2014

China's Thirst for Coal Is Drying Up

“China's coal boom is over, with demand falling faster than expected … The latest data from China's National Coal Association suggests that while China burned 940 million tonnes of coal in the first quarter of 2014, that's only a 0.9 percent increase from last year, down from a 9.8 percent increase in 2011. As this trend continues, China's peak coal consumption is looming ever closer, and the decline of coal consumption is just around the corner,” write Fang Lifeng, Senior Campaigner with Greenpeace East Asia and Justin Guay, Associate Director of the Sierra Club’s International Climate Program.

Suggested Tweet: Peak #China #coal consumption looms as data shows growth in first 4 months of 2014 0.9% vs 9.8% in 2011 #coalisover

Turkey’s Soma mine disaster and the need for a plan to quit coal

“The worst coal mining disaster of the 21st century happened in Manisa, Soma on 13th of May 2014. This tragedy, where hundreds of coal miners lost their lives showed us once again that as long as the coal continues to be burned, it hurts us at all stages from mining to air pollution, causing thousands of deaths. The tragedy, which the responsible company declared as an unseen and unexplained accident is actually a result of the profit focused policies in the energy market. Our real question here today is not the reason of this tragedy but why these deaths happened,” writes Greenpeace Turkey.

top news

Corruption probe into Chinese energy sector: Chinese authorities have launched corruption investigations into a major energy agency and several government-owned companies The deputy director of the National Energy Administration’s coal department, who was found to have US$16 million in cash at one of his houses, is one of those who has been arrested. (South China Morning Post)
Legal challenge to Barrier Reef dumping plan: The Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators has launched legal action against the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority over its approval of the proposed sea dumping of three million tonnes of dredging spoil from an expansion of the Abbot Point coal terminal. The case will be heard in the Federal Court of Australia in June. This is the second legal challenge to the dumping decision. (ABC, Brisbane Times)
Australian mine fire “an accident waiting to happen”: The six-week long fire at the Hazelwood brown coal mine in February and March this year was an “accident waiting to happen” according to  an independent and certified mine rehabilitation auditor commissioned by Environment Victoria. The group’s submission to a commission of inquiry into the fire argues that the US$14m million bond is grossly inadequate. (Environment Victoria, The Age)
Indian tribunal upholds ash content standard: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ruled that the state-owned Maharashtra power utility, Mahagenco, must abide by the Ministry for Environment and Forests' (MoEF) ruling prohibiting the use of coal with an ash content over 34 per cent. MoEF’s direction in January cited the risk to the environment and public health from burning high ash coal. Mahagenco operates seven coal-fired plants with an installed capacity of 7480 megawatts. (The Times of India, Mahagenco)
New Indian PM to grapple with coal and solar: While the new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a champion of solar power when he was the chief minister of the state of Gujarat, he will face competing demands at a national level. “To provide abundant and affordable power, Modi could wrestle with the half dozen different central ministries that manage energy – from coal, to oil and gas, to power (generation and distribution), to nuclear, to renewables,” said William Antholis, managing director of the Brookings Institution. (Think Progress)

“We look upon solar as having the potential to completely transform the way we look at the energy space,”

said Narendra Taneja, the convener of the energy division at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). BJP’s parliamentary leader, Narendra Modi, has been elected as India’s new Prime Minister.


Australia: GlencoreXstrata subsidiary fined US$61000 for coal mine pollution of creek.
Australia: Vale closes 4.5 million tonnes a year Integra mine in NSW Hunter Valley.
Burma: Farmers warn they will demonstrate against Thai-owned coal mine planned for rice paddies.
Croatia: Marubeni and Edison Italy bids remain for Plomin plant while two others pull out.
Serbia: Power cuts after coal plant affected by floods and fire.
US: Governor of Washington aims for state to go coal-free for power.

“We cannot see prices gaining ground any time soon, with short-term risk more to the downside and sustainable upside capped above [US]$80 per tonne into 2016,”

wrote South Africa's Standard Bank in a recent research note.

companies + markets

China’s new solar target to undermine coal: The Chinese Government has expanded the target for solar power to 70 gigawatts (GW) by 2017. In January 2013 the target was set at 35 GW by 2015 with the current capacity approximately 20 GW. The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) estimates that the new target may further erode the demand for imported coal with approximately 80-90 per cent of new capacity to be from sources other than coal. (Bloomberg, IEEFA)

Indian utility looks to pick up power plant bargains: The National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) is looking to buy seven coal-fired power stations in India from financially stressed companies. Expressions of interest were submitted by companies on 31 projects and considered by NTPC’s board last week. NTPC is the largest power generator in India with ambitious plans to almost triple its installed capacity to 128 GW by 2032. (Hindustan Times, NTPC)

Pakistan increases coal power incentives to lure Chinese investors: In a bid to lure Chinese investment in new coal-fired power stations the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) has substantially relaxed key performance criteria for projects. Tariffs have been increased to ensure a minimum return on investment of 24.5 per cent. “This is the most attractive upfront tariff for coal-fired power projects in the world,” a Nepra official boasted. (Dawn)
US Supreme Court rejects coal companies’ tax-free bid: The US Supreme Court has rejected a legal challenge by Alpha Natural Resources and other coal companies against the Department of Interior imposing a fee for mine rehabilitation costs on coal that is exported. The court rejected a petition by the coal companies to hear the case. (SNL)
Shares of US met coal producers decline: The share price of Alpha Natural Resources has fallen to an all-time low while that of another metallurgical coal producer, Walter Energy, has fallen to its lowest point in the last year. “Every day prices for met coal staying where they are is a sign, from a macro perspective, of more weakness," said Lucas Pipes, an analyst with Brean Capital. Approximately 15 million tonnes of global met coal production capacity have been closed recently. (SNL)

“It's really tough in this state to build any project that's not windmills or teddy bears,”

said Liz Fuller, a spokeswoman for Ambre Energy, an Australian company wanting to build a coal export terminal in Oregon.

resources                      take action

Dangerous Waters: America's Coal Ash Crisis, Sierra Club and Earthjustice, May 2014.

The report provides an overview of the risks to public health and the environment from coal-fired power station coal waste dams. The report includes case studies on coal ash dams in eight states.
Jobs after coal: A just transition for New Zealand Communities, Coal Action Network Aotearoa, May 2014. (Pdf)

This 50-page report sketches what a ‘just transition’ away from coal could look like for New Zealand. The detailed report provides brief overviews of five communities around the world planning their life after coal, alternatives to thermal coal used domestically and metallurgical coal supplied to the international market.

After the Soma coal mine disaster, it’s time for Plan B

Greenpeace Turkey has launched a petition urging the Minister for Energy, Taner Yıldız, to shift the emphasis of domestic energy policy away from coal to renewables. The petition, which is in Turkish only, is available 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

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