In a major new development, the state of Maharashtra declared that it would not install any new coal capacity, and would instead invest in 25GW of solar power for its incremental energy demand. Maharashtra is one of the most industrialised states in the country, but a new report by Climate Risk Horizons also found that its coal power plants had been running at below 55% PLFs for the past four years — which indicates flatlining energy demand and ample scope for retiring surplus units.
The report estimated that the state would save ₹16,000 crore (~$2 million) in the next five years by retiring old units, and that it was the best course of action, instead of retrofitting them to help them comply with the stricter emissions standards by December 2024. It also cautioned against an upcoming plant in Bhusawal because of its high operating costs, and because Maharashtra is expected to be in a 15% power surplus till 2025.
IEEFA: Proposed new coal power units in India will be uncompetitive with renewables
A new report by IEEFA stated that almost all of India’s 33GW of new coal power plants under construction, as well as 29GW of pre-construction projects, would end up stranded as their tariffs would be uncompetitive against renewables. The report found that solar tariffs were below the fuel costs of India’s existing coal plants and the lack of movement on the 29GW capacity clearly indicated little demand for new coal power. Yet, the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) indicated that the country will add 58GW of new coal capacity by 2030, and Coal India’s e-auction bookings have grown by 52.5% since April 2021.
Another new report by Global Energy Monitor also found that 432 new coal mine development and expansion projects were currently in the works globally, which would together quadruple the supply of coal over the limit needed to keep global warming under 1.5°C. Crucially, 1.7 billion tonnes per annum (BTPA) of the 2.277 BTPA capacity would come from Russia, India, China and Australia alone, despite global calls to rapidly scale back the use of thermal coal.
Norwegian government proposes new oil and gas licences for economic growth
The Norwegian government invited 84 new bids that would authorise more licences for oil and gas exploration, saying that it would “facilitate long-term economic growth in the petroleum industry”, even though the country’s sovereign wealth fund has been pulling out of fossil fuel investments. The proposed offshore licences will likely be awarded in the North Sea, the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea, but the move comes soon after the IEA’s damning new report that called for an immediate stop to all new fossil fuel extraction. Climate activists are already protesting the development and plan to drag the Norwegian government to the European Court of Human Rights after having repeatedly failed to stop the drilling licences at the country’s Supreme Court.
Canadian tar sands oil extractors form alliance for “net zero” barrels of oil by 2050
The five biggest Canadian oil companies came together under the Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero alliance, which they say will produce net zero oil by 2050, despite oil extracted from tar sands being four to five times more emissions intensive than crude oil. The Alliance claimed that globally oil will continue to be relevant till 2050 (and beyond), and thus the tar sands’ $3 trillion in revenues for the Canadian government must not be throttled. Instead, the alliance plans to invest heavily in carbon capture and storage, hydrogen production and electrification of operations to effectively negate emissions.
However, there was no mention of scaling back operations by 4% every year till 2030 — as would be necessary under the UN Environment Programme — and the alliance failed to detail the emissions from their product’s end users, which are reportedly several times worse than from the extraction process itself.