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A nightmare waiting to unfold: Big Oil may soon have unprecedented access to Arctic oil and gas

Paying for dirty coal: Power bills will rise from March, polluting coal got ‘more state benefits’ than renewables

Dirty coal gets expensive, get ready to pay higher bills from March

Come March, power prices will rise as Coal India Ltd (CIL) revises price of non-coking coal, main fuel to make electricity. Following the coal price increase the state-owned CIL is expecting Rs 6,421 incremental revenue for 2017-18 and Rs 1,956 cr incremental revenue from the balance period of the fiscal.

Subsidies favoured coal and oil over renewables: Study

Polluting fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas were the largest receivers of financial benefits, or subsidies, from the govt between 2013 to 2016, even though government reduced the energy subsidies by 38% ($15 billion), says study by ODI, ICF and IISD. Subsidies to renewables compared with overall energy subsidies accounted less than 10%. Coal mining and coal plants got Rs 14,990 crore in 2016 in subsidy.

‘Coal crisis’ or mismanagement?

Private power generators have alleged that state-owned miner Coal India Ltd is causing a coal crisis by allegedly supplying more coal to state-owned plants while forcing private generators to shut down.

Coal India hikes annual production target

The Centre has increased Coal India’s annual production target for 2018-19 by 5% to 630 MT. In2017-18 it was 600 MT. Beginning with 554 MT in 2016-17, CIL plans to mine 1 billion tonnes of coal every year by 2020.

Banking on domestic coal

Power companies are topping up their allotments from Coal India and the firm is increasing supplies to captive power consumers (cement, aluminium and sponge-iron manufacturers) – especially after cement manufacturers in Northern India faced a fuel glut after the petcoke ban.
Meanwhile, a parliamentary standing committee has recommended supplying thermal power plants with domestic coal to reduce India’s dependence on non-coking coal.

Retro-fitting ‘not the answer’

The Power ministry has stressed that retro-fitting thermal power plants over 25 years old to make them comply with stricter emission norms is not financially viable. Instead the ministry wants to promote supercritical technology, which lowers CO2 emissions to 0.82kg/kWh from the old plants’ 1.1-1.3 kg/kWh.

DISCOMS get to exit expensive PPAs?

The Centre plans to allow DISCOMS to exit PPAs signed with old thermal power plants – that sell power at higher tariffs – to offtake cheaper power from energy efficient coal plants and fulfil their renewable purchase obligations (RPOs).

China to streamline coal capacity

China plans to consolidate (by 2020) its fragmented, 4000-odd coal mining firms into a number of “super large” miners, each capable of producing more than 100 MT annually. The move will eliminate approximately 800 MT of “inefficient and outdated” capacity, and instead bring online 500 MT of advanced capacity.

UK’s 2025 coal phase-out deadline

UK will phase out all its coal fired power plants by October 2025 in a further boost to meeting its Paris Accord commitments. Like in India, the decision is influenced by the very high cost of retro-fitting existing plants with carbon capture technologies.

Norway to allow oil and gas drilling in the Arctic

A Norwegian court has ruled against environmentalists’ pleas of not allowing the Norwegian government to grant oil drilling licences off the country’s arctic coast, effectively paving way for Big Oil to start drilling in the planet’s most ecologically sensitive and vulnerable region. The ruling surprisingly follows the Norwegian pension fund’s decision to divest from oil and gas.

In the US too, the Trump administration has been doling out licences to oil firms to drill in federal oil fields off the coast of California, with 17% more drilling permits issued since 2012. Governor Jerry Brown – under whose leadership there has reportedly been a 67% jump in the number of wells drilled and completed – is being urged to halt any expansion in oil drilling and fossil fuel use in California.

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