September 11, 2014

China's Coal Imports Drop For The First Time Since 2009

“New statistics from August show another first: Chinese coal imports in the first eight months of 2014 dropped by 5.3 per cent. This is the first time the import rate has dropped since the country became a net importer in 2009. More importantly, the industry forecast indicates an even steeper 8 per cent drop by year's end … China has single handedly driven the growth in coal consumption we've seen over the past decade. But, it is increasingly clear that the time of unending coal growth is nearing an end,” write Justin Guay from the Sierra Club and Lauri Myllyvirta from Greenpeace International in Huffington Post.

Suggested Tweet: China's #coal imports fell for the first time since 2009; down over 5 per cent in 2014 @Guay_JG @laurimyllyvirta

German Coal Power Generation in August At A 10-year Low

“This year electricity generation from coal is down in Germany and last month only 14.45 TWh. This is not only a hefty 20% decline compared to the previous year, but also the lowest monthly coal power production in more than a decade … This monthly low is certainly good news, but it is not an indicator of an overall rapid decline of coal power. Despite this year’s decline, coal power generation is still above the low levels seen in 2009 (223 TWh). If the trend of lower year-to-year consumption continues during the last four months of the year, 2014 could, however, still come very close 2010 levels (230 TWh). But clearly, more installed megawatts of coal power capacity will not necessarily lead to more megawatt-hours of coal power, as is often assumed,” writes Thomas Gerke in Renewables International.

Suggested Tweet: German #coal generation in August at lowest level in >10 yrs despite installed coal capacity going up (RenInt)


First Nation forces Canadian province to freeze coal licences

The Tahltan First Nation has persuaded the provincial government of British Colombia to put a freeze on any changes to existing coal exploration licences in the Sacred Headwaters area.  Last year the Tahltan First Nation agreed to enter into discussions with the provincial government over the long-term management of the area after a moratorium was placed on issuing new licences. However, the group wanted the freeze extended to existing licences as well and had announced that it aimed to challenge the permit issued to Fortune Minerals which has proposed an open cut coal mine on Mount Klappan. (Vancouver Sun)

Suggested Tweet: Provincial govt in #Canada freezes decisions on existing #coal tenures in the Klappan #Tahltan

Criminal charges against coal ship blockaders dropped

Criminal charges have been dropped against two environmentalists who in May 2013 anchored a lobster boat in a shipping channel to block a delivery of 36,000 tonnes of coal for the Brayton Point power plant in Massachusetts. District Attorney Sam Sutter said the decision to drop the charges had been made in part to avoid the cost to taxpayers of a trial but was “also made with our concern for their children, the children of Bristol County and beyond in mind. Climate change is one of the gravest crises our planet has ever faced. In my humble opinion, the political leadership on this issue has been gravely lacking.” (Boston Globe, LobsterBoatBlockade)

Suggested Tweet: Two men, a lobster boat blockade, a district attorney & #coal. Big Coal lost, the #climate won

top news

Queensland abandons sea dumping plan but proposes to subsidise land disposal: The Queensland government has announced that it wants dredge spoil from the proposed Abbot Point coal terminal expansion dumped on land. However, concerns remain about the possible impact of land disposal on wetlands and who carries the costs. The North Queensland Conservation Council, which has launched a legal challenge against the sea-dumping permit, said it was waiting on further information before deciding whether to continue its action. (Guardian)

Setback for Adani’s Indian coal mine: A public hearing on Adani’s proposed 30 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) Machhakata coal project in Orissa was cancelled when affected villagers protested against the project. The project, which is one of the 218 deemed illegal by the Supreme Court of India, would displace approximately 3500 villagers. “The Angul district administration was bound to cancel it (public hearing) as the affected people who are to be displaced from 7000 acres of agriculture land were determined to oppose the project,” said Prafulla Samantara, the president of Lok Shakti Abhiyan. (Business Standard)

US workers launch lawsuit over health impacts of coal ash pond: Contractors who worked at a coal ash landfill at the James M. Gavin power plant in Ohio are suing American Electric Power over health problems and deaths the plaintiffs allege were caused by unsafe work conditions. The complaint on behalf of 77 plaintiffs – including 50 who worked at the site and the families of six who died – argues that workers were “exposed, unprotected, to coal-combustion-byproduct waste, a radioactive amalgam of hazardous constituents that pose known risks for human health.” (Columbus Dispatch)
Indian government looks to axe tribal forest rights: The Indian government is investigating ways in which coal mines and other industrial projects could be given approval to clear forests without complying with the legislative requirement of being voted on by village councils. The Forest Rights Act was passed in 2006 after a campaign by civil society groups seeking to protect the customary rights of tribal groups. (Business Standard)

Swedish parties vow to block Vattenfall’s German expansion plans: Plans by Swedish government-owned Vattenfall to expand coal mining and power operations in Germany are likely to be abandoned after all eight major Swedish political parties stated in an election debate that they opposed the project. Vattenfall is seeking to expand its lignite mining and power operations in the east German region of Lusatia. (Guardian)

“This is very good news for the ­environment and for climate change, not very good [news] for thermal coal,”

said former BHP Billiton executive Alberto Calderon on new power generation capacity in China being 80 per cent renewables, gas and nuclear compared to 90 per cent coal of recent times.


Dubai: Eight bidders shortlisted for 1200 megawatt (MW) Hassyan coal plant.

India: Supreme Court reserves judgement on how to proceed with “illegal” coal allocations.

Kenya: Consortium which includes Chinese companies wins bid for 960 MW Lamu plant.
Poland: Prime Minister ponders what to do with loss-making government coal company.

US: Costs of Kemper coal gasification and power plant jumps another US$30 million.

US: Court rules companies can’t dump coal waste into bay at Alaskan export terminal.

“As renewables become more reliable and cheaper, the share of coal power plants in India’s installed capacity in 2030 becomes half of what it was in 2012, under our central view – to the benefit of wind and solar … The distributed nature of renewables energy sources will also appeal to India as it seeks to increase electrification from the current rate of 75%, according to the World Bank. In addition, coal will become less of an attractive prospect as the carbon risk will increase financing costs,”

wrote Bloomberg New Energy Finance in a June 2014 report, 2030 Market Outlook: Asia Pacific. (Not available online.)

companies + markets

US coal consumption could drop by one-quarter by 2020: Financial analyst Sanford C. Bernstein estimates that US coal consumption could fall by as much as one quarter by 2020. Bernstein estimates that the bulk of the potential 207 million-tonne decline would occur in western states. Key drivers in the expected decline are the growth in renewables, substitution of gas for coal and the impact of regulatory limits on emissions of carbon dioxide, mercury and other pollutants. (SNL)

Russian miner adds export power project to Shenhua deal: The Russian company Rostec has entered into a revised memorandum of understanding with Shenhua to explore and develop the Ogodzhinskoye coal deposit in the Amur region near the Russian and Chinese borders. The companies are proposing to export the high-calorific value coal to China via a new railway line and port as well as build a coal-fired power station fuelled with lower-quality coal to supply electricity to China via a new high voltage transmission line. (RIA Novosti)

Tata Power looks to dump Indonesian coal mine: Tata Power is looking to sell its one-quarter stake in PT Kaltim Prima Coal (KPC) and PT Arutmin Indonesia (Arutmin). According to Tata Power’s Managing Director, Anil Sardana, the company bought into the mines “to get the fuel at a discounted price” to supply to its 4000 MW Tata Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project in India. When preparing its bid for the power project Tata Power assumed an imported price of coal of approximately US$40 a tonne. However, since September 2011 the Indonesian government has required coal exports to be sold at or above an internationally benchmarked price. (Business Standard)
US coal railroad proponents told to detail market exists: The US Surface Transportation Board has directed BNSF Railway Company and Arch Coal to provide further information to the Northern Plains Resource Council (NPRC) on the coal market and finances related to the proposed Tongue River Railroad. The 68-kilometre railway has been proposed to cater for coal mines in Montana including Arch Coal’s proposed Otter Creek mine, which the NPRC oppose. The decision of the board was welcomed by NPRC attorney Kenneth Rumelt who said the viability of the railway “ultimately depends on how much coal this railroad can transport over it.” (SNL, Surface Transportation Board)

Feasibility studies on Chinese coal-to-gas plant near completion: Sinopec Corporation is planning on proceeding with a US$10 billion coal-to-gas plant in the remote north-western region of Xinjiang. While other companies have backed away from similar plant Sinopec is nearing completion of final feasibility studies on the proposed 8-billion cubic metres of gas a year plant. Last year a paper published in Nature Climate Change estimated that synthetic natural gas produced for power generation would create between 36 and 82 per cent more greenhouse gas emissions than a coal-fired plant. (Reuters, Nature Climate Change)

Philippines Energy Secretary extols solar as cheaper than coal: The Secretary of Energy for the Philippines, Carlos Jericho Petilla, has extolled the virtues of rooftop solar as providing homeowners with power which is cheaper than coal-fired power. There are numerous proposals for coal-fired power stations in the Philippines as well as an expansion in domestic coal mining. (Clean Technica)

“Climate change? Is this terminology correct? The reality is this that in our family, some people are old ... They say this time the weather is colder. And, people’s ability to bear cold becomes less. We should also ask is this climate change or have we changed. We have battled against nature. That is why we should live with nature rather than battle it,”

said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi when addressing students of the Sacred Heart University in Japan. His comments have been interpreted as Modi retreating from his earlier acceptance of climate change.

resources                      take action

International Energy Agency data tools on energy and climate, International Energy Agency (IEA), August 29, 2014.

The IEA has made public three databases on climate change, renewable energy and energy efficiency policies and measures in over 100 countries. While the databases don’t contain data on coal production and use they provide useful information on current and former national policies. (The databases are here).

Joint Statement on the Health Effects of Coal in Australia, Climate Council and Climate and Health Alliance, September 2, 2014.

A call from a growing coalition of health professionals in Australia for more stringent measures to protect public health from the effects of coal mining, transport and burning.

“Heavy health toll of South Africa’s coal-fired power plants”, IRIN, September 8, 2014.

This article provides a good summary of the debate over the health impacts of pollution from Eskom’s coal-fired power stations.

Help get rid of dirty UK coal power stations!

Greenpeace has launched a petition calling on the leaders of the three major political parties – David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband – to agree to close the remaining coal-fired power plants in the UK within 10 years. Since the petition was launched the Lib-Dems’ Nick Clegg has committed to ending “dirty coal power stations”. You can sign the petition here.

Suggested Tweet: Greenpeace petition to get David Cameron & Ed Miliband to agree to close UK #coal power plants within 10 yrs.

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