More trouble, yet again: Rising coal prices and costs of compliance with air pollution norms could render 70% of global coal plants uneconomical by 2040. | Image credit:

42% of world’s coal plants running on losses, phase-out could save India’s taxpayers $76billion

Carbon Tracker’s new study revealed that 42% of the world’s 6,685 coal power plants are running on losses due to rising coal prices. The study also says the proportion could rise to 72% by 2040 over higher carbon taxes, and the costs of compliance with stricter air pollution norms.

Carbon Tracker further says that if India stopped sheltering its uncompetitive coal power plants through state subsidies, it could save its taxpayers nearly $76 billion. Additionally, the report calls for a ban on new coal power investments since renewables in India were already a cheaper option.

Poland defends heavy dependence on coal amidst surging imports from Russia, USA

Poland has defended its heavy reliance on coal for its power generation, with its Prime Minister denying that Poland’s use of its own resources (for energy security) conflicted with the country’s climate goals. Poland currently derives about 80% of its power from coal, even though its draft energy strategy may reduce the share to 60% by 2030.

Meanwhile, its coal imports from Russia have almost doubled to 9.3 million tonnes (from 5.2 million tonnes) for January – September 2018 (over Jan – Sep 2017), while its imports from USA jumped by over 400% in the same period. Poland is currently hosting COP24 – where fossil fuels are a huge bone of contention.

Clean coal found to release more NOx than raw coal

US utility Duke Energy has found that burning so-called ‘clean coal’ in fact produced between 33% to 76% higher NOx emissions than burning raw coal – instead of its claimed benefit of reducing it by 20%.
Clean coal receives a billion dollars in federal tax subsidies every year – specifically over its NOx emissions benefits – and the US will have burned 160 million tonnes of clean coal in 2018. The technology did, however, achieve a 75% reduction in mercury emissions over 2009-2017.

US may allow new coal plants to emit more CO2 even as coal power faces record low demand

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed that new American coal plants be allowed to emit up to 1,900 pounds of CO2 per MWh of electricity – up from 1,400 pounds currently – to roll back ‘burdensome Obama-era regulations on the country’s coal power sector.

The proposal comes despite demand for coal power in the US being at its lowest since 1979. Around 14GW worth of coal plants have already shut down in the country in 2018 – double that of 2017. Also, Xcel Energy – one of the US’ largest coal utilities – has promised to slash emissions and move to 100% clean energy by 2050.

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