Keeps getting worse: 47GW of coal projects were cancelled in India in 2019, hinting that confidence in the fuel is running low, despite the govt.’s efforts | Photo: Grist

Coal power’s share grows in India despite shrinking capacity, IEEFA says new capacity “unviable”

The Boom and Bust Report 2020 has found that 47.4GW of coal capacity in India under various stages of construction was cancelled in 2019, and only 2.9GW of new capacity was proposed. However, 8.8GW of new capacity is now under construction — but heavily reliant on public funding as the private sector is increasingly staying away from coal power.

Yet, even though India’s net coal capacity is steadily shrinking, its share in total power generation has reportedly improved, even though IEEFA’s new analysis predicts that all new non-pithead coal capacity will be financially unviable

Coal now most expensive fuel, yet may figure heavily in China’s economic recovery

Coal has now become the world’s most expensive fuel, after crude oil prices dropped to under $27/barrel. Last updated, coal was trading at $66.85/metric ton, which is the equivalent of oil at $27/barrel. The dirty fuel, however, continues to attract financiers, although its fate post-coronavirus may be unclear as progressive economies are now likely to push for more renewables.

Yet, as China emerges from its covid-19 battle, its government is reportedly planning to spend as much as $7 trillion to revive the economy, and coal is expected to be a major benefactor. According to Global Energy Monitor, the sector may be looking to add up to 99 GW capacity through 2035. If it does, its output could exceed the rest of the world’s coal power generation combined and render all global climate action useless.

China has already approved more than 6 GW worth of new capacity, and the fuel figures as a tool for energy security in its 14th five-year plan, which runs till 2025. 

India to push for coal-bed methane despite fears of local resistance

India’s coal ministry is eyeing a surge in the country’s coal-bed methane (CBM) output as it gets ready to use the fuel for residential energy demand. The country has an estimated CBM reserve of 92 trillion cubic feet (TCF) — the world’s fifth largest — and Coal India plans to extract 1 million metric standard cube metre (MMSCM) per day by 2023-24.

However, Tamil Nadu has recently cancelled CBM licences awarded to ONGC (along with its licenses to drill for oil), which would have allowed it to drill in the Cauvery Delta basin, after strong protests by the local farming community. India’s CBM reserves are spread across 12 states, including Jharkhand and West Bengal, and the possibility of more local protests has already been acknowledged as a point of contention, as the procedure to extract CBM involves drilling a large number of wells to get to the gas deposits.

Major victory for Sioux tribe as US judge repeals permit for DAPL 

A US federal judge has repealed the permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) after ruling that the concerns and analyses of the pipeline’s potential hazards by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe — whose home territory it would have passed through — were ignored by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The tribe had raised concerns over potential oil spills, the abysmal safety record of the DAPL’s parent firm, Sunoco Logistics, and the pipeline’s leak detection systems. 

The USACE has been ordered to do a complete impact assessment of the DAPL and take into account every concern raised by the tribe before deciding on whether to proceed. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, on its part, maintains that the pipeline should be axed.

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