Relentless: India’s coal imports are slated to breach 185 million tonnes this year – its highest ever, as the country notches up coal consumption to record highs | Image: IncoreInsights

India ratcheting up coal plants & coal imports, NTPC to unveil world’s cleanest coal plant

India is very likely to expand its coal power capacity by up to 22% — to 238GW (from 194.5GW today) — by 2022 to meet its burgeoning power demand. The statement was issued by the Ministry of Power and takes the familiar argument of falling back on coal to counter the intermittent power output of renewables. India’s top electricity planning body — CEA — had also recently announced that coal would power 50% of the country even in 2030, despite more renewables in the power mix, to meet rising peak power demands. 

Additionally, the country is expected to import a record 185 million tonnes in 2019 – up 13% y-o-y – as several power plants face acute coal shortages. The 2,102 million ton Deocha-Pachami coal mine in West Bengal, which is also India’s largest, will also be brought online soon, which could raise questions about India’s climate commitments.

Also, NTPC and BHEL are setting up an 800MW Advanced Ultra Super Critical (AUSC) coal plant in Chhattisgarh, which is designed to emit 20% less CO2 than existing sub-critical plants. NTPC claims the plant will be the world’s cleanest.

WoodMac: Fossil fuels to still power 85% of the world in 2040

Consultancy firm Wood Mackenzie has predicted that coal, oil and natural gas will power 85% of the world’s energy demand by 2040 — way beyond the 60% or so target that would be consistent with capping global warming to less than 2°C. The estimate is part of its Energy Transitions Outlook report, which says little progress has been achieved in major economies towards slashing emissions, but also highlights renewables-based hydrogen as one of the solutions to renining in emissions. 

EIB proposes 2020 fossil fuels pullout, Suncorp won’t cover coal beyond 2025

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has proposed that it will stop financing any fossil fuel projects after 2020. 5% of the bank’s total financing currently supports fossil fuel projects — which amounted to $13billion from 2013 – 2017 — and the proposal is yet to be ratified by its board. The EIB may eventually pivot half its finances to supporting green energy projects. 

Australia’s insurance giant Suncorp too has proposed that it will stop covering thermal coal mines and power plants after 2025. Thermal coal is a key commodity for the country’s power sector and exports, and it will also lose the support of Suncorp’s rival QBE after 2030. Suncorp, additionally, has been asked by environmental group Market Forces to phase out covers for all fossil fuels.

US Automakers to increase fleet fuel efficiencies in defiance of White House

Four major US automakers have agreed to voluntarily increase their fleets’ fuel efficiencies to nearly 51mpg (miles per gallon) by 2025, even though the White House has repeatedly tried to freeze the number at 35mpg. The agreement was reached between the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and Honda, Ford, VW and BMW of North America.

The agreement could help the carmakers save money by manufacturing fleets with uniform fuel efficiencies across the US (California has its own standards). However, the White House claims that lower fuel efficiencies would help Americans afford less expensive and safer cars.  

Berkeley becomes first US city to ban natural gas, 50 other may follow

The city of Berkeley in California has become the first US city to ban the use of natural gas for heating and powering appliances in new buildings. The decision was passed with overwhelming support and underscores the city’s effort to help California achieve its target of zero-carbon power by 2045.50 other Californian cities are reportedly also mulling a similar measure, with concerns over the impact of natural gas drilling on the state’s propensity for earthquakes also being factored in.  Meanwhile, a new study has shown that the CO2 equivalent emissions from fracking for natural gas in Germany would exceed its current environmental standards. Fracking for shale gas is the US’ top new energy sector and the study — if taken note of — could force its drillers to undertake more stringent measures for emissions control.

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