November 13, 2014


India's Coal Illusion

“India alone has plans to build a coal fleet nearly twice the size of the entire U.S. coal fleet. But if this pipeline has you thinking that a coal-fired future is inevitable, think again. These grandiose plans are an illusion the coal industry seeks to maintain because the truth is the majority of this global pipeline is nothing but vapour,” writes Justin Guay from the Sierra Club in Huffington Post.

Suggested Tweet: India's #coal illusion #India @Guay_JG

How Big Coal is shamelessly plotting to stay alive

“Just as it once helped Marlboro cigarettes push into Asia … public relations giant Burson-Marsteller is helping Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private coal company, become the dominant supplier to the world’s most ravenous coal market, a role worth billions to Big Coal that could lock in decades of dangerously high carbon emissions,” write Dan Zegart and Kevin Grandia in Salon.

Suggested Tweet: #bursonmarsteller - the PR company which pushed #tobacco - is now promoting #coal for @peabodyenergy #publichealth

Coal companies talking rubbish on energy poverty

“The coal industry is very vocal in promoting energy poverty and pushing coal as a solution to it. The head of major coal company Peabody Energy describes energy poverty as ‘the world’s number one human and environmental crisis’. However, what Peabody says and what it does about energy poverty are very different,” write Rod Campbell, Cameron Amos and Andrew Scarlett from the Australia Institute in Business Spectator.

Suggested Tweet: @peabodyenergy is all talk and no action on energy poverty @TheAusInstitute


Indian villagers win legal challenge over power plant

The National Green Tribunal has upheld an appeal by villagers against environmental approval for a proposed 3200 megawatt (MW) coal plant at Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu. The tribunal has directed Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) to undertake a new Cumulative Impact Assessment for the proposal. The tribunal noted that in its study the company had cited 2005 national air quality standards which did not exist. The tribunal expressed alarm that the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had taken “a casual approach” and set conditions which were “extremely general in nature.” (New Indian Express, Climate Crusaders)

Suggested Tweet: National Green Tribunal rule for villagers and overturn env. approval of IL&FS 3200MW #Cuddalore #coal plant #India

Court orders freeze on Turkish power plant

A Turkish Court has dismissed an appeal by the Kolin Group against a court ruling blocking a proposed power station in an olive grove at Yirca. Several days before the ruling the company – which has close ties with the government – moved in and uprooted 6000 mature olive trees at the site. The court ruled that the national olive grove protection law precluded the power station being built at the site. The court also ruled that the company’s attempt to expropriate the land had no legal basis. (Al-Monitor, Greenpeace)

Suggested Tweet: Sadness turns to joy when villagers from Yirca #Turkey defeat proposed #coal plant @denizbayram @Greenpeace

top news

Polling reveals opposition to Indian coal power plans: An opinion poll of 1000 people across nine states of India has revealed that 68 per cent prefer that future electricity needs be met from renewable energy sources rather than coal. Fifty-eight per cent of respondents felt the health costs of coal-fired power outweighed the benefits while a majority opposed proposals by the Indian companies Adani and GVK to import coal from Australia. (Market Forces)

US coal company ordered to supply water: A District Court judge has ordered a coal company to provide 15 families with an emergency water supply and install each house with a water tank after groundwater was found to be unfit for human consumption due to high heavy metals and hydrogen sulphide concentrations. The families commenced legal action against the company in May after the company began excavations at its Coal Mountain mine in West Virginia. (State Journal)
Villagers resist Colombian mine expansion plan: Despite six years of negotiations, Cerrejon Coal has failed to reach agreement with more than half the families it wants relocated to allow the expansion of the Oreganal mine pit. Previous mine expansions have resulted in villagers being resettled with little agricultural land. Cerrejon Coal, a consortium comprising BHP Billiton, Anglo American and Glencore, has flagged that it may have to drop or modify its original expansion plan. (Bloomberg, London Mining Network)

Mongolia dismisses PM over coal scandal: Mongolia’s Parliament voted 36-30 to dismiss Prime Minister Norov Altankhuyag in part due to an investigation into a senior aide who allegedly embezzled funds earmarked to subsidise household coal. Altankhuyag’s administration has also faced criticism due to rapidly deteriorating finances due in part to falling coal prices and demand from neighbouring China. (BBC, South China Morning Post)

“Given the current weakness in coal pricing, we do not support investment [by railway company Aurizon] in new large-scale coal projects like the Galilee Basin. This is not a good use of shareholders’ capital,”

said Phil Green of UK Children’s Investment Fund Management, which owns 5.8% of the company. [Paywall]


Australia: Partial wall collapse at cooling tower of Muja D power station in Western Australia.

Australia: Aboriginal land council shuns Korean coal company’s Aboriginal adviser.

India: Major delay to bid by Adani and Tata Power for compensatory tariff on coal imports.
Scotland: Proposed underground coal gasification project dubbed ‘harebrained’.

Thailand: Fishing industry launches protest against proposed Krabi coal plant.

US: Army Corps of Engineers grants permit for Louisiana export terminal without public hearings.

“Due to over-capacity, the nation's coal stock has topped 300 million tons for more than 30 months in a row and it will be very difficult to cut the stock in the foreseeable future,”

said Lu Yaohua, vice chairman of China National Coal Association.

companies + markets

China coal imports continue to fall: In the first 10 months of 2014 Chinese coal imports fell by 7.7 per cent compared to the previous year. Thermal coal imports have fallen each of the past three months compared to last year, with the 10 million tonnes estimate for November less than half that of November 2013. (Platts, Renew Economy)

India stalls decision on pooling coal prices: The Indian government has deferred consideration of a proposal to set domestic coal prices based on a pooled cost of imported coal and cheaper domestic coal. Price pooling is proposed to apply to power projects commissioned between 2009 and 2017. The cabinet was concerned price pooling would undermine interest in the auction of 74 coal blocks scheduled for early 2015. Price pooling would benefit power generators reliant on expensive imported coal but is opposed by financially-stressed state distribution utilities which would be forced to increase tariffs. (Deccan Chronicle)

BHP Billiton trials driverless haul trucks at Australian mine: BHP Billiton is proposing to introduce remote controlled trucks at its Mt Arthur mine in the New South Wales Hunter Valley. The use of driverless trucks was not mentioned by the company in its recent successful application to expand the mine. Hitachi is currently trialling driverless trucks at the Stanwell Corporation’s Meandu mine in Queensland while Rio Tinto has used them extensively in its Western Australian iron ore mines. (Newcastle Herald)
Yanzhou bails out Australian subsidiary: China’s fourth biggest coal company Yanzhou Coal will pay US$1.8 billion as part of a proposed US$2.3 billion debt-for-equity deal in Yancoal, its 78 per cent-owned Australian subsidiary. Yanzhou Coal also plans to provide a further US$1.2 billion to underwrite Yancoal’s ongoing losses from its seven Australian mines. (Reuters, Sydney Morning Herald)

Jitters hit Indonesian coal company: The credit rating of Berau Coal, the fifth largest coal producer in Indonesia, has been downgraded by ratings agencies Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s due to concern over the company’s mounting losses and high debt. Following the downgrades, the value of Berau’s bonds maturing in 2017 fell from 70 cents in the dollar to 56 cents and lower. Moody’s stated that unless the company refinances its debt in the next few weeks it will be forced to restructure or default on its debts. (Reuters, Moody’s)

Coal India profitability declines: Coal India, the world’s largest coal company, has reported falling profitability in the three months to September due to a combination of higher costs and government pressure to sell direct to power companies rather than through more profitable e-auctions. (Livemint, Barron’s)

“I'm very confident of achieving these targets [doubling domestic coal production] and am very confident that India's current account deficit will not be burdened with the amount of money we lose for imports of coal … Possibly in the next two or three years we should be able to stop imports of thermal coal,”

said Piyush Goyal, India’s Power and Coal Minister.

resources                      take action

Energy Access: why coal is not the way out of energy poverty, Carbon Tracker Initiative, November 2014.

This report finds that overwhelmingly those without access to energy live in rural areas beyond the grid. In sub-Saharan Africa only 7 per cent live in countries which produce coal. The report shows how rural communities in Africa and India can exploit the falling costs of renewable power to access electricity without the need for expensive grid transmission networks.

Lighting India, World Economic Forum/Confederation of Indian Industry, November 6, 2014. (Video)

This 55-minute video of a World Economic Forum panel features India’s Minister for Power, Coal and New and Renewable Energy, Piyush Goyal, and executives from renewable energy companies and the Rockefeller Foundation. The panel provides a fascinating insight into the Indian Government’s electricity policy and why investors are emphasising solar power.

Could retaining old coal lead to a policy own goal?, Centre for Energy Policy and Technology, Imperial College London, October 2014. (Pdf)
This report concludes that between 5000 and 9000 MW of old coal-fired capacity In the UK could run until 2030 and beyond. The modelling indicates coal plants will only be retired with higher carbon prices and increased investment in low-carbon generating capacity.

Send a hug to Krabi in Thailand

Sign the petition to send a hug to the tropical paradise of Krabi in Southern Thailand which is threatened by a coal plant. Spread the word to others!


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