India and Southeast Asia are set to lead world coal consumption through 2040

India to spend more on coal, lignite exploration, slash funds for mine safety

India’s interim budget for 2019 has indicated that the Centre will up its spending on domestic coal and lignite exploration (to $84 million) to throttle its dependence on record high coal imports. Several privately owned coal plants have lately had to scale back operations (or even temporarily shut down) over the imports-driven rise in raw material prices.

The Centre will, however, slash its funding for mine safety procedures by up to a third, with the justification that coal mining firms were free to use their own safety budgets. This is despite India having some of the worst coal mining safety records in the world – an example of which was the lives lost in the rat-hole mining incident in Meghalaya in 2018.

Three South African banks drop finance for new coal power

Mirroring international developments, three prominent South African banks – FirstRand, NedBank and Standard Bank – have recently withdrawn support from new coal power plants in the country. They are particularly opposed to funding the 557MW Thabametsi and the 306MW Khanyisa plants – both of which will use highly inefficient sub-critical technology to burn coal.

Their backing out is indicative of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) protocols taking hold in member nations, which are now only allowed to build high efficiency (42%) ultra-supercritical coal plants.

Japan cancels massive new coal plant over prospects of poor returns

Japan has cancelled construction of one of its largest new coal plants – the 2X1MW project at Sodegura City – after admitting that it would not return the profits initially expected. The project’s undertakers – Kyushu Electric Power Co., and Idemitsu Kosan Co. – were also influenced by growing opposition to coal power by local citizens, NGOs and community groups, because of its role in degrading air quality and driving climate change.

The two firms may, however, replace the project with a natural gas-fired plant, even though that too may be incompatible with Japan’s commitment to the Paris Agreement.

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