More trouble, yet again: Rising coal prices and costs of compliance with air pollution norms could render 70% of global coal plants uneconomical by 2040. | Image credit: Grist.org

Report: Drastic fall in number of coal plants in past 3 years, globally

Is coal going to be a thing of the past sooner than expected? It may just be if you go by the latest Boom and Bust report by Global Energy Monitor, which says there has been a drastic fall in the number of new coal plants over the past three years.

The report stated that since 2015, there has been an 84% drop in the number of new coal plants, 39% in 2018 alone. News reports are calling it a visible “peak coal”. In India, specifically, the report says the coal project pipeline has shrunk by 37GW – from 131.35GW in 2017 to 94GW in 2018. But the report’s authors warned that even emissions from existing coal plants were enough to breach the 2°C global warming limit.

China’s coal surge may spoil global climate targets

Can China single-handedly spoil the global coal-collapse momentum? Latest demands by China’s industry can. The country’s biggest power producers have asked Chinese government to allow them to develop between 300-500 new coal plants by 2030. This could mean China “could add a large coal power plant every 2 weeks for the next 12 years” reported Unearthed.

China is yet to adopt the industry’s proposal. According to the Global Energy Monitor report, China, last year, revived construction on several coal plants that it had previously shelved. Satellite images showed that China resumed construction on over 50 gigawatts (GW) of coal plants that had been put on hold in 2018, “ bucking a global shift away” from fossil fuels, reported Reuters.

The same survey also pointed out that  India had given approval to three major new coal plants ahead of the general elections next month. However, the report also stated that the capacity of coal projects in the pipeline declined by 37.4 GW. .

Report: Oil giants pumped a billion dollars in ads to undermine climate action

The five biggest oil giants – BP, Shell ExxonMobil, Chevron and Total – are spending around $200 million annually to block policies to tackle climate change, a new study has revealed. The five largest companies are using social media to oppose climate action. The study revealed that last year, ahead of of the US mid-term elections, the global oil giants spent $2 million on Facebook and Instagram ads to extol “benefits of increased fossil fuel production” The Guardian reported.

A $13-million campaign by BP and Chevron successfully blocked a carbon tax in Washington state, the research said, adding that a million dollars were spent on social media ads alone. The report’s author, Edward Collins, told The Guardian: “Oil majors’ climate branding sounds increasingly hollow and their credibility is on the line. They publicly support climate action while lobbying against binding policy.” Since the countries signed the 2015 Paris deal, the oil and gas majors spent $1 billion on “misleading branding and lobbying.”

Study: Fossil fuel now pricier than solar or wind in US, coal to get out of race by 2025

According to a new study, around 75% of coal production in the US is more expensive than renewables to generate power for households. The study says the falling costs of solar and wind energy was enough to retire coal much faster than any policy change could. The study calculated the costs of coal power and compared it with that of renewables based on financial filings and data from the Energy Information Agency (EIA). The researchers found that 211GW  of current US coal capacity (74% coal fleet), is providing electricity that’s more expensive than wind or solar. The study says by 2025, wind and solar would  have “out-competed” the coal costs.

Carbon capture: Tata Steel, Shell, BP, and Drax join £1-million UK advisory group

The UK’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters Tata Steel, Shell, BP, Drax and Nation Grid have joined the country’s carbon capture and usage and storage group (CCUS) backed by £1 million of government funding. The CCUS technology is designed to capture CO2 emissions from the steel, cement and coal industry, before they are released in the atmosphere. Britain will also provide £170 million to develop “the world’s first net zero cluster of heavy industrial plants by 2040”. If implemented the plan is expected to cut out greenhouse gases from power plants and factories by the mid-2020s, reports says.

Czech utility CEZ to shut down 3 coal energy units mid-2020

Czech utility firm CEZ will shut down three coal energy units with over 1GW capacity in mid-2020 in order to phase out coal power plants in favour of zero-emission energy. Reuters reported: “The units account for around 5% of CEZ’s total annual capacity,”

Japan ministry vows to reject new coal plants after international criticism

Following criticism that Japan was not serious about curbing emissions and global warming, the country’s environment ministry said it will not approve construction of new coal-fired power plants to keep intact its international pledge of climate action.

Asahi Shimbun reported that since the triple meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant, which resulted in the loss of nuclear plants, power companies mostly drew up projects to construct coal-burning plants to secure stable electricity supplies. This “faster-than-anticipated” transition by the Japan, which buys 39% of Australian-mined thermal coal, would affect future volumes and the viability of some new mines, The Guardian reported.

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