August 13, 2015


Cheap Solar in India Sounds Death Knell for Coal Imports

“Solar pricing has decreased to such an extent that it is now cheaper than new imported thermal coal-fired power plants at Rs6/kWh.  This new economic reality means it is financially irrational to choose to build another power plant fuelled by imported coal. The death knell for the seaborne-traded coal industry has sounded,” writes Tim Buckley and Jai Sharda in RenewEconomy.

Suggested Tweet: Cheap #solar in #India sounds death knell for #coal imports @ieefa_institute @renew_economy

Turkey’s Coal Boom Encounters Opposition While Renewables Beckon

“‘The smell is sharp and smoky, with a metallic tinge, and very, very strong. ‘That,’ says Yıldırım Biçici, ‘is the smell of coal’. The tea-shop owner’s home is just a couple of hundred metres from a huge, ageing coal-fired power plant in central Turkey, whose red-and-white chimneys spew dirty fumes. Biçici has lived amid the smoke for decades but now finds himself on the frontline of the nation’s new coal rush: the Afşin-Elbistan station is planning to expand into the biggest coal-fired power plant in the world,” writes Damian Carrington in the Guardian.

Suggested Tweet: #Turkey’s #coal boom encounters opposition while #renewables beckon @dpcarrington @guardianeco

As Wales Rejects An Opencast Mine, Is the End of Coal Nigh?

“[Last week] something extraordinary happened: a council in South Wales, the birthplace of the fossil fuel age, defied the coal industry and said no to an opencast coal mine. Wales kickstarted the industrial revolution with coal from the valleys around Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney. But last week councillors for the area made an historic decision that suggests Wales is now leading the way out of the fossil fuel era,” writes Guy Shrubsole from Friends of the Earth UK in Open Democracy.

Suggested Tweet: As #Wales rejects an opencast mine, is the end of #coal nigh? @guyshrubsole @openDemocracy


Standard Chartered and Adani part ways on Galilee mine

Standard Chartered, which had loaned about US$494 million to Adani, has announced that it has ruled out funding the company’s proposed Carmichael mine in the Galilee Basin. At its May annual general meeting the company promised to review its involvement in the project. Standard Chartered said that as a result of its review – along with delays in the project – it and Adani “have agreed to end the bank’s role in the Carmichael project.” Last week Adani lost the Commonwealth Bank as its financial adviser for the US$11.6 billion coal mine, rail and port project. (Guardian)

Suggested Tweet: Standard Chartered & #Adani agree to part ways over #Carmichael #coal mine plans

In Japan, Indonesian villagers file official complaints on Batang coal plant

“At the end of July, three villagers affected by the proposed Batang coal-fired power plant in Central Java, Indonesia, did something unprecedented. They travelled all the way to Tokyo to personally deliver an official objection to the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), the public financial institution considering funding the project,” writes Hozue Hatae from Friends of the Earth Japan in Endcoal.

Suggested Tweet: Will JBIC support Indonesian villagers’ demands and cancel Batang #coal plant? @FoEJapan #Indonesia

top news

Study estimates coal kills over 7000 Indonesians a year: Research by Harvard University and Greenpeace Southeast Asia has estimated that Indonesia’s existing coal plants cause 7100 premature deaths a year. President Jokowi has proposed the construction of one hundred new coal plants with an additional 22,000 megawatts (MW) of capacity. If all these proceeded, the study estimates that premature deaths could increase to over 28,000 a year. (Financial Times, Greenpeace)

Indian mine expansion stalled: Public opposition has led a Ministry of the Environment committee to conditionally reject a proposed 44 million-tonne expansion of the Kasmunda coal mine in Chhattisgarh state. The expansion proposed by South Eastern Coalfields, a Coal India subsidiary, would have required the demolition of 17 villages and worsened already bad air quality. In February Amnesty International found the public consultation process for the mine expansion was deeply flawed. (Hindustan Times, Amnesty International)

Queensland farmland damaged by underground coal gasification: Over 300 square kilometres of agricultural land has been permanently damaged as a result of an underground coal gasification (UCG) project operated by Linc Energy, according to a report commissioned by the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. Linc Energy denies responsibility for the damage. Former workers at the site reported constant gas leaks and complained of health effects from working at the plant. Linc Energy also owns and operates the Yerostigaz UCG project in Angren, Uzbekistan. (ABC News, ABC News)
Scale of Vietnam’s coal flood pollution emerges: Vietnamese officials have acknowledged that pollution from coal mines and collapsed tailings dams in Quang Ninh province has contaminated farmland, damaged the fishing industry and polluted rivers. In a situation report on the floods the United Nations says “there are a number of increasing concerns of health risks, water sanitation and environment issues due to the sludge of coal mines in Quang Ninh and the future risk to World Heritage site Ha Long Bay.” (IRIN Asia, United Nations) 

Lack of cooling water forces Polish power cuts: Poland’s grid management company has imposed major power consumption restrictions on industrial customers due to the reduced availability of cooling water for power plants. Poland’s coal-fired power stations generate 90 per cent of the country’s electricity. With low winds and little installed solar capacity the grid management company has also increased power imports and imposed limits on power exports. (, Reuters)

Mumbai Port Trust’s coal terminal retrospectively approved: Despite growing complaints from residents over pollution from Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) coal-handling operations, on August 1 the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board issued a ‘consent to operate’ permit but backdated it to September 30, 2014. An anonymous MbPT official told the Times of India that as the agency didn’t make much profit from coal it had hoped the board would not re-issue a coal-handling permit. (Times of India)

“The old factoid about China adding one coal plant per week deserves to be updated — China is now adding one IDLE coal power plant per week,”

writes Lauri Myllyvirta from Greenpeace in Energydesk.


Australia: CCS project at Vales Point power station shut due to lack of storage capacity and funding.

India: New 500 MW Anpara D plant fails second attempt at generating power.

Indonesia: BHP Billiton faces indigenous land rights challenge over part of IndoMet Coal Project.
Malaysia: Licences granted over 40,000 hectares in hope of supplying coal to two Mukah plants.

US: Arch Coal pays US$2 million fine for water pollution in five states.

US: Coal baron Chris Cline gives US$1 million to group backing Jeb Bush’s bid to be elected President.

“Twenty-nine years ago [when the first coal plant at the Afşin-Elbistan power station opened], people were so happy … They thought they were going to be rich. But they didn’t know they were going to have to spend that money on medical treatment. They started poor, were rich for a short time, and then died poor,”

said Hussein Alp Aslan, the vice-director of the public hospital in Elbistan in Turkey.

companies + markets

India auctions more coal blocks despite concerns: The Indian Government is auctioning a further 10 coal blocks which were cancelled by the Supreme Court in its August 2014 ruling on the Coalgate scandal. Ahead of the auction Greenpeace India released a report which found that of the 101 coal blocks slated for auction this year at least 39 were in ecologically critical areas with 35 of them in tiger, leopard or elephant habitat. Greenpeace warned that winning bidders were likely to face delays and legal challenges against mining permits. (Livemint, Greenpeace India)

China approves a dozen new mines: In the first seven months of 2015 the National Energy Administration has approved 12 new coal mies with a production capacity of over 48 million tonnes. While there is a major domestic coal supply glut, the China National Coal Association believes the government’s policy to close small mines which produce less than 90,000 tonnes a year will result in the closure of about 5600 of the country’s 10,760 mines. Between them the small mines produce about 500 million tonnes a year. (Business Recorder)

Chinese currency devaluation spooks coal market: The devaluation of the Chinese yuan two days in a row has triggered a fall in the price of shipments of coal and on the futures market. The devaluation raises concern about both the strength of the domestic economy and the impact of reduced purchasing power of coal importers. (Reuters, Bloomberg)
Patriot Coal bankruptcy may leave rehabilitation unfunded: The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has lodged an objection to Patriot Coal’s proposed bankruptcy plan, arguing it would leave no assets to cover hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of rehabilitation liabilities. In a filing in the US Bankruptcy Court in Virginia, lawyers for the DEP argued the proposed plan favoured hedge funds but left the public at risk from rehabilitated mines and acid mine drainage. (Washington Post)

South Africa’s Eskom tries to unscramble its financial woes: Eskom has unveiled plans to raise US$1.6 billion from domestic lenders and international bonds to finance expansion plans. The publicly-owned utility has also flagged that it wants to cut costs by moving away from owning its own mines. It is also in commercial dispute with  Glencore over its cost-plus coal supply contract for the Hendrina power station. Eskom’s bid for a price rise of more than nine per cent in excess of its approved increase was rejected by the energy regulator earlier this year. (Reuters, Business Day)

New Chinese coal plants squeezing renewables: In the first half of 2015 23,400 MW of new coal plants were commissioned even though thermal generation fell by 3.2 per cent. The increase in coal overcapacity is having the knock-on effect of increasing the wind and solar power wastage rates. (Energydesk).


India’s Electricity Sector Transformation, IEEFA, August 2015. (Pdf)

This report provides a detailed overview of the profound shift in India’s electricity generation sector away from imported coal and towards renewables and expanded domestic coal production.
“Shenhua's mine: is it worth the risk?”, Background Briefing, August 9, 2015.

This 45-minute radio program investigates the background to Shenhua’s controversial Watermark coal project in the Liverpool Plains in New South Wales.

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