As is traditional on a Friday, we at World Coal take a look back at the week’s top news stories from the global coal industry.
US and China sign carbon emissions deal
The recently announced deal between the US and China to reduce CO2 emissions has polarised opinion. Some have hailed the deal has a significant step forward in addressing climate change, while detractors have labeled the deal “unrealistic”. Under the agreement the US will cut its emissions by 26 – 28% of 2005 levels by 2025, while China has committed to peaking its emissions by 2030. It is the first time the China has set a date for its emissions to peak and includes a commitment to generate 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. US Republicans are among the most prominent and vocal critics of the deal, which has been hailed by Thomson Reuters Point Carbon as “a huge step forward” despite emissions from both countries being expected to rise for at least another decade. It is possible, then, the deal is more significant for its symbolism than its potential impact on the climate. Nonetheless, it is perhaps pertinent to remember the saying, “big things have small beginnings”.
The cheap coal bridge to low-carbon economy
A new report, commissioned by CoalPro and prepared by NERA Economic Consulting, has shown that the affordability of coal remains important to the UK economy, demonstrating the benefits of coal-fired power to the wider economy – both now and in the future. It argues that upgrading existing coal-fired plants to meet the NOx and SOx emissions limits of the EU’s Industrial Emissions Directive is a more economic solution to future security needs than building new gas-fired power plants. The report underlines a belief long-held by many within the coal industry: that cleaner coal is the most affordable way to move to a low-carbon electricity generation mix.
Industry hails NSW plan for coalbed methane
The coalbed methane (CBM) industry has hailed the newly released gas plan from the New South Wales (NSW) government. The plan will be framed around the recommendations made in a key independent scientific report from the chief scientist and engineer, Mary O’Kane. Many CBM players in Australia have welcomed the plan, with AGL Energy Ltd saying it recognises the need to secure local gas supplies for the people of NSW and the importance of continuing to develop CBM reserves. Other supporters of the plan include the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association, as well as the Australian Pipeline Industry Association. News of the NSW government’s gas plan broke the same week that another key CBM player, Santos, announced positive progress at its CBM to LNG plant on Curtis Island. Santos also pointed to the potential benefits of CBM, when it announced in a statement that CBM to LNG conversion can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
India optimistic on coal imports
In a potentially overly optimistic moment, the Indian minister for power and coal, Piyush Goyal, said the country could end coal imports within three years. Goyal said it was “possible” that India could double domestic coal production and thereby offset coal imports, which rose to 168.4 million t in the last financial year. Last year, state-owned company Coal India Ltd failed to mine enough coal to meet the country’s growing energy needs. Many analysts are therefore sceptical that India can reduce its reliance on coal imports, particularly if new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is to make good on his pledge to provide 24/7 power to all Indians by 2022.
Justice for the 29?
Donald Blankenship, the ex CEO of Massey Energy, has been indicted for his role in the Upper Big Branch coal disaster, in which 29 miners lost their lives. The disaster was the worst coal mining accident in 40 years. Blankenship has been charged with widespread violations of safety rules and deceiving federal inspectors. The former chief executive, once dubbed “the Dark Lord of Coal County” has been indicted on four criminal counts by a federal jury. He now faces up to 31 years in federal prison, though families of the 29 miners killed in the disaster will not feel adequate justice has been done until a final conviction is given.
Written by Sam Dodson
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcoal.com/coal/14112014/weekly-coal-news-roundup-14-november-2014-1577/