Coal

The Death Of Europe’s Coal Industry

14 Dec 2017   Coal, Europe

More than half of Europe’s coal plants are already bleeding cash, but by 2030, the percentage of coal plants in Europe that report negative cash flow could explode to an estimated 97 percent. Those findings come from a new report by the Carbon Tracker Initiative, which paints a dire picture for the economics of coal after surveying 600 power plants in Europe. To be sure, coal has been hit hard over the past half-decade or so due to a variety of forces – falling costs for renewables, air quality and climate regulations, as well as the policy shift in Germany away from nuclear following the 2011 Fukushima meltdown. However, coal has held onto its grip in the power sector, even if its position has weakened. Germany still generates about 40 percent of its electricity from coal. But Carbon Tracker argues that some European utilities are making imprudent decisions by […]

Vietnam fails to export 2 mil mt of coal to China due to technical barriers

12 Dec 2017   Coal, Vietnam

Vietnam was unable to export 2 million mt of coal to China this year as the latter set strict specification for mercury, arsenic, phosphoric, chlorine and fluorine content in imported coal, according to a Vietnam Ministry of Industry and Trade’s letter obtained by S&P Global Platts Tuesday. Vietnam National Coal-Mineral Industries Holding Corp. Ltd., or Vinacomin, had planned to export around 2 million mt of coal to China from its Uong Bi-Vang Danh coal mines in the northern province of Quang Ninh, which has a calorific value ranging from 5,050 Kcal/kg to 5,700 Kcal/kg and maximum 35% ash content under Vietnam’s 2015 specifications. On December 2, 2016, the Vietnamese government had given permission to Vinacomin and the Northeast Corp. to export 4.05 million mt of coal in 2017, the ministry said. Under the approval, Vinacomin was to export 4 million mt of coal: 2 million mt of Uong Bi-Vang Danh […]

New U.S. energy agency head gets time to decide on coal, nuclear rule

9 Dec 2017   Coal, Nuclear, USA

The new chairman of the U.S. office that regulates energy projects was granted more time on Friday to decide on Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s directive to subsidize aging nuclear and coal-fired power plants. Perry had directed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in September to decide on a rule by Dec. 11 that would allow power plants that maintain at least 90 days of fuel supply on site to recover their full costs through regulated power pricing. The secretary says coal and nuclear plants should be rewarded for keeping the power grid robust by diversifying sources of power. Low natural gas prices have pushed many coal and nuclear plants into retirement. Kevin McIntyre, a Republican lawyer who represented energy companies at law firm Jones Day, was sworn in to head FERC, an independent office of the Energy Department, on Thursday. McIntyre wrote to Perry later that day, proposing […]

China scales back northern gas push to avert heating crisis

8 Dec 2017   China, Coal

 Beijing scaled back its plan to convert northern cities to cleaner fuel this winter after provinces warned of gas shortages, residents struggled to keep warm and reports of freezing classrooms deepened concerns about a heating crisis. The deceleration is the first admission from the central government that its effort to switch households and factories in the country’s smoggiest cities away from coal to gas or electric heating may have been implemented too quickly, and without the critical infrastructure and domestic output to meet the resulting surge in demand. Sponsored China’s Ministry of Environment has told northern regions that have not converted to gas or electric heating they may burn coal or other fuels instead, financial magazine Caixin reported. Caixin cited […]

Gas Shortage Has China Backtracking On Coal Ban

8 Dec 2017   China, Coal

China is backpedaling on its massive push for the coal-to-gas switch after the move created gas shortages in the north that left people freezing in the cold snap, financial magazine Caixin reported on Thursday. The Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection said on Monday in an urgent letter to 28 cities in the north that residents now could continue burning coal or firewood to keep themselves warm in the areas where the switch from coal to natural gas and electricity has not been completed, Caixin reports, despite the ban on coal. “It is not wrong for Beijing to push the coal-to-gas switch, but the process was a bit too fast and outpaced the market’s capacity,” Xu Bo, a researcher with CNPC’s Research Institute of Economics and Technology, told Reuters . So big has been the drive to switch from coal to gas, that China has been buying up liquefied natural […]

China heating crisis prompts coal U-turn

8 Dec 2017   China, Coal

Many Chinese families use coal to heat their homes China’s government has allowed some northern cities to burn coal in a temporary policy U-turn, as the country faces a heating crisis. Beijing had banned the use of coal for heating this winter in an ambitious plan to reduce pollution. Recent winters had seen heavy smog blanket China’s northern region. But millions are reportedly now left without proper heating, after failing to switch from coal to other fuels in time for winter. The coal ban has also reportedly led to a gas shortage as people rushed to switch to the alternative source, which has compounded the problem. Chinese media reported on Thursday that the environment ministry had issued a directive to 28 cities across north-east China. The statement said the ministry had “discovered that in some areas, works to replace coal with electricity or gas had yet to finish according […]

China’s November coal imports down 18.24% on year to 22.05 million mt

8 Dec 2017   China, Coal

China imported 22.05 million mt of coal in November, including lignite, thermal and metallurgical material, up 3.62 % from October but down 18.24% year on year, according to preliminary data released Friday by China’s General Administration of Customs. China imported 21.28 million mt of coal in October and 26.97 million in November 2016. For January-November, total imports rose 8.5% year on year to 248.17 million mt. The country exported 0.75 million mt of coal in November, down 8.54% from 0.82 million in the year-ago month, the data showed. In October, exports totaled 0.12 million mt. Exports over January-November were 7.47 million mt, down 6.9 % from 8.03 million mt in the year-ago period. The GAC did not give a breakdown of imports and exports for November; it will be available later this month. –Michelle.Zhao, michelle.zhao@spglobal.com –Edited by Pankti Mehta, pankti.mehta@spglobal.com

GE’s Power Division to Eliminate 12,000 Jobs After Misjudging Demand

8 Dec 2017   Coal, USA

Workers on a gas-turbine assembly line at the General Electric plant in Greenville, S.C., on Jan. 10, 2017. General Electric Co. said Thursday it was cutting 12,000 jobs in its power business, or nearly 18% of the unit’s workforce, as the conglomerate slashes costs and battles overcapacity in an industry in upheaval. GE’s Power unit has been a drag on earnings for the struggling company as global demand has dropped in tandem with GE integrating its acquisition of power assets from France’s Alstom SA . GE has said it misjudged the market as volume dropped in traditional coal and gas-fired power, while renewable energy sources grew. Read More The shrinking of the power business is part of a broader reorganization at GE under new Chief Executive John Flannery, who last month cut the once-sacred dividend in half and sharply lowered profit targets. The power business, which makes turbines for […]

Weekly US coal production again dips as demand remains light

23 Nov 2017   Coal, USA

Weekly US coal production totaled an estimated 14.9 million st in the week that ended November 18, up 0.9% from the prior week, but down 6.2% compared with the year-ago week, US Energy Information Administration data showed Wednesday. Production has now lagged behind 2016 for eight of the last nine weeks, as weak demand, coupled with uncertainty regarding weather and natural gas prices, are encouraging utility buyers to limit deliveries. Platts Analytics estimates utility coal stockpiles stood at 136.5 million st in the week that ended November 16, roughly 20% below year-ago levels. For the most recently concluded week, coal production in Wyoming and Montana, which primarily consists of coal from the Powder River Basin, totaled an estimated 7 million st, up 0.4% compared with last week but down 7% from the year-ago week. On an annualized basis, 2017’s coal production in Wyoming and Montana would total 356 million […]

In shadow of OPEC’s noisy oil cuts, Asia’s miners quietly tightened coal supplies

22 Nov 2017   Australia, Coal, Indonesia

Australian and Indonesian miners have quietly done in the last two years what OPEC has been shouting about: tighten coal markets and prop up prices. The informal coal output reductions, unlike the official cuts in place since January led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), are culminating right as Asia enters the Northern Hemisphere winter when heating demand peaks in January. Additionally, there are warnings a La Nina pattern that typically brings colder-than-normal weather to the Northern Hemisphere might occur. In 2015, at the peak of the coal glut, Glencore, the world’s biggest thermal coal exporting firm, said […]

At least 15 states join global alliance to phase out coal by 2030

17 Nov 2017   Climate, Coal

At least 15 countries have joined an international alliance to phase out coal from power generation before 2030, delegates at U.N. climate talks in Bonn said on Thursday. Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Chile, Mexico and the Marshall Islands have joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance, delegates said. Sponsored The alliance aims to have 50 members by the next U.N. climate summit in 2018 to be held in Poland’s Katowice, one of Europe’s most polluted cities. But some of the world’s biggest coal users, such as China, the United States, Germany and Russia, have not signed up. Powering Past Coal comes just days after U.S. administration officials, along with […]

U.S. grid regulator: interim plan could aid nuke, coal plants for years

16 Nov 2017   Coal, Nuclear, USA

The top U.S. electricity regulator wants to prop up ailing coal and nuclear plants for as long as it takes to determine whether they provide vital services to the grid – a process that could take two years or longer, he said in an interview late on Wednesday. g Neil Chatterjee, the acting head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said his interim plan to keep the plants open would likely require regional grid operators to evaluate which power plants should be helped, so they could recoup costs through regulated pricing. “When the power goes out for a substantial amount of time it can be truly, truly debilitating, with not just economic consequences but cultural and society and safety consequences,” said Chatterjee, a Republican […]

Quick German coal exit would endanger power supply security: RWE

14 Nov 2017   Coal, Germany

German coal-biased utility RWE on Tuesday warned of a quick exit from coal power to further reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which the Green Party is demanding in talks to form a new coalition government. Rising steam from RWE coal power plant, one of Europe’s biggest electricity companies, is reflected in a car’s mirror in Neurath, north-west of Cologne, Germany, November 3, 2017. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay Chief financial officer Markus Krebber said such a unilateral move by Germany, which had just contributed to making a pan-European CO2 trading mechanisms much stricter, would harm the economy and undermine the security of supply. “Focusing on climate protection goals alone is not enough and will lead to fatal misallocations,” he told journalists in a call on Tuesday, adding that coal-based power generation will be declining already in the coming years. “Exiting coal in the short term would make it impossible […]

A year after Trump’s election, coal’s future remains bleak

13 Nov 2017   Coal, USA

A year after Donald Trump was elected president on a promise to revive the ailing U.S. coal industry, the sector’s long-term prospects for growth and hiring remain as bleak as ever. A Reuters review of mining data shows an industry that has seen only modest gains in jobs and production this year – much of it from a temporary uptick in foreign demand for U.S. coal rather than presidential policy changes. U.S. utilities are shutting coal-fired power plants at a rapid pace and shifting to cheap natural gas, along with wind and solar power. And domestic demand makes up about 90 percent of the market for U.S. coal. ”We’re not planning to build any additional coal facilities,“ said […]

Italy Looks To Phase Out Coal-Fired Electricity By 2025

11 Nov 2017   Coal, Italy

Italy’s government unveiled on Friday a new national energy strategy aiming to phase out coal in electricity generation by 2025, and significantly boost the share of renewables in total energy and electricity consumption. In the framework document drafted by the ministries of economic development and environment, Italy plans to have 28 percent of its total energy consumption covered by renewable energy sources by 2030, compared to 17.5 percent in 2015. The target for renewables in electricity generation is to achieve a share of 55 percent by 2030, up from 33.5 percent in 2015. In the transportation sector, Italy targets renewables at a 21-percent share by 2030, versus 6.4 percent in 2015. The country is also doubling research and development investments in clean energy to US$517 million (444 million euro) in 2021 from US$258 million (222 million euro) in 2013. Alongside a big push for renewables, Italy—Europe’s fourth-largest energy consumer […]

US Hampton Roads coal exports total 3.1 million st in October: VMA

3 Nov 2017   Coal

Coal exports from terminals in Virginia’s Hampton Roads region totaled 3.08 million st in October, down 1% from the prior month but up 83.1% from the year-ago month, according to data released Thursday by the Virginia Maritime Association. It was the first drop in month-over-month exports since June, when exports fell 15.2% from May. The region’s three terminals primarily ship metallurgical coal. The drop in exports corresponded with an 8.8% month-over-month drop in low-vol met coal FOB FOB USEC prices in October, according to S&P Global Platts data. Through October 31, low-vol metallurgical coal FOB USEC has averaged $172.22/mt this year, compared with $105.22/mt in the year-ago period. For the year to date, exports through the region’s three terminals totaled 29.1 million st, up 64.9% from last year. Of the three individual terminals in Hampton Roads, Lambert’s Point, also known as Pier 6, exported 1.32 million st in October, […]

US coal’s upturn favors open-pit mines in western states

3 Nov 2017   Coal

The US coal industry has been making a comeback this year, hailed this week by President Donald Trump. In the power generation sector, however, only one variety of the fuel is in demand — low-cost production from the large open-pit mines of western states such as Wyoming. The trend has buoyed listed US mining groups Peabody Energy and Arch Coal, which have both emerged from bankruptcy after the wave of failures that swept the industry in 2015-16. But it is a bad sign for the Appalachian region, including states such as West Virginia and Kentucky, which Mr Trump has pledged to help. Healthy demand for thermal coal, used for power generation, from the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana is helping support a US mining industry that is focusing on controlling debts and returning cash to shareholders. Coal production has been rising across the US, but the boost to output in Appalachia has come from more volatile export sales and metallurgical coal, used for making steel, not from thermal coal. US consumption of central Appalachian coal for power generation has fallen 20 percent this year compared with the equivalent period of 2016, according to Peabody. Consumption of coal from the Powder River Basin, meanwhile, has risen 8 percent. As a result Peabody, which produces about 80 percent of its US coal from the Powder River Basin and also has a large business in Australia, is on course to resume paying a dividend next year, in spite of a generally challenging outlook for the industry.

Coal Prices Soar As Demand Heats Up

2 Nov 2017   Coal, Prices

Coal prices are on the rise again. With benchmark rates in Australia up over 30 percent since July — approaching the $100/t mark that prevailed in November 2016 after a massive run-up last year. And a number of events the past week show that things could get even more heated in coal over the coming months. The biggest story recently has been China. Where a push to restrict coal imports has driven local prices to multi-year highs. With data this week from Platts showing that 102 coal-laden boats are currently anchored offshore of Chinese ports, unable to deliver their loads. That drop in imports has left local user hoarding supplies — with coal stockpiles held by China’s six largest power generators reportedly jumping nearly 16 percent in the past week, to 11.09 million tonnes. But Chinese regulators said this week they’re keeping a close eye on coal users. Stipulating […]

Awaiting Trump’s coal comeback, miners reject retraining

2 Nov 2017   Coal, Prices

When Mike Sylvester entered a career training center earlier this year in southwestern Pennsylvania, he found more than one hundred federally funded courses covering everything from computer programming to nursing. He settled instead on something familiar: a coal mining course. ”I think there is a coal comeback,” said the 33-year-old son of a miner. Despite broad consensus about coal’s bleak future, a years-long effort to diversify the economy of this hard-hit region away from mining is stumbling, with Obama-era jobs retraining classes undersubscribed and future programs at risk under President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget. Trump has promised to revive coal by rolling back environmental regulations and moved to repeal Obama-era curbs on carbon emissions from power plants. “I have a lot […]

Coal Company Armstrong Energy Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection

2 Nov 2017   Coal

Coal-mining company Armstrong Energy Inc. filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday with a plan to turn over ownership of its struggling operations to a competitor and its lender. The St. Louis company plans to use the chapter 11 process to transfer the ownership of its five mines and other operations to a new entity owned by Illinois coal company Knight Hawk Holdings LLC and some of Armstrong Energy’s noteholders. Nearly all of Armstrong Energy’s shares are now owned by energy investor Rhino Resources Partners Holdings LLC. The terms of the transaction weren’t immediately disclosed in documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in St. Louis. Armstrong Energy mines for coal in western Kentucky on land that is estimated to have 445 million tons of proven and probable coal reserves, according to a June 30 report. It also operates three coal processing plants and a river dock coal handling and railroad loading […]

Are Coal-Fired Power Plants Set For A Boost?

1 Nov 2017   Coal, USA

The background of the yet-to-be-passed policy dates back to April, when Perry instructed his second-in-command to develop a 60-day review that looks at how regulatory burdens, subsidies, and tax policies “are responsible for forcing the premature retirement of baseload power plants.” He also wanted to know whether wholesale energy markets adequately compensate actions that, in his view, strengthen grid resilience such as on-site fuel supply usually provided by coal and nuclear plants. The view of Perry and the current DoE is that America’s power grid would become vulnerable if more coal-fired power plants – a form of reliable baseload power – were to close down. It cites the 2014 polar vortex in the Arctic, which sent most of the country into a deep freeze and hiked electricity demand, as an example of a situation that put the power grid in jeopardy. To counteract such a threat, the energy department […]

Petra Nova is one of two carbon capture and sequestration power plants in the world

1 Nov 2017   Coal, USA

 Petra Nova, a joint venture between NRG Energy and JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration The Petra Nova facility, a coal-fired power plant located near Houston, Texas, is one of only two operating power plants with carbon capture and storage (CCS) in the world, and it is the only such facility in the United States. The 110 megawatt (MW) Boundary Dam plant in Saskatchewan, Canada, near the border with North Dakota, is the other electric utility facility using a CCS system. A third power plant in Kemper County, Mississippi, is capable of burning natural gas as well as lignite coal and was expected to be fully operational and capable of using CCS by mid-2014. However, Kemper has operated primarily on natural gas, essentially as a combined-cycle plant, since August 2014. In June 2017, Mississippi Power made the decision to suspend operations activities relating to the coal gasification process, […]

Will This Trump Move Trigger A Coal And Nuclear Buying Spree?

26 Oct 2017   Coal, Nuclear, USA

That’s a slate of new regulations around power pricing across the U.S. which have been proposed by the Trump-era Department of Energy (DOE), in order to give coal and nuclear power generation a boost — opened for public comment this week. Here’s the crux: the new DOE rules aim to ensure “reliability and resiliency” of power generation in America. By rewarding electricity producers who are able to generate continuous and steady power supply. There are a couple of key pieces to the exact wording here. One being that electricity grid operators will be required to provide “full cost recovery” to some power-producing facilities. Specifically, those power plants that “maintain 90-day on-site fuel supplies”. That basically means nuclear and coal-fired plants. With these solid-fuel driven facilities being the only ones that keep large fuel inventories on-site — unlike alternative generation methods like natural gas, hydro and renewables. The cost recovery […]

China Datang says has enough coal supplies for winter

23 Oct 2017   China, Coal

China’s Datang Corp has 28 days of coal stocks for its power plants, enough for winter consumption, the company’s general manager told Reuters on Monday, brushing off concerns that utilities could not secure coal supplies for winter. That amount of supply is higher than China’s five major utilities were storing at this time last year. Reuters reported in November 2016 that companies were holding less than 20 days of inventories. Overall Datang has abundant coal supplies but power plants in the three northeastern provinces of Heilongjiang, Liaoning and Jilin still face some tightness, General Manager Chen Feihu said in a email reply to Reuters during a question and answer session as part of China’s 19th Communist Party Congress. “We have started scooping up coal for the winter period at a earlier date compared with last year especially for the northeastern regions. We will book more supplies […]

There’s a Dangerous Bubble in the Fossil-Fuel Economy, and the Trump Administration Is Making It Worse

23 Oct 2017   Coal, Economy, USA

Last year, shortly after the election, the coal baron Robert Murray received a phone call from President-elect Donald Trump. “He said, ‘Tell your coal miners I got their backs,’ ” Murray later reported to Fox News. “Then he said, ‘I love you, man.’ ” Murray, who is the chairman and C.E.O. of Murray Energy, the largest private coal company in the country, was one of the first fossil-fuel executives to support Trump’s candidacy. Prior to the Republican National Convention, he hosted a fund-raiser for Trump in Charleston, West Virginia, attracting nearly five hundred thousand dollars in donations and contributing hundreds of thousands more from his own pocket. “It was eight years of pure hell under the Democrat Party and Obama,” Murray recently told “ Frontline .” He added, laughing into the camera, “But we won! It’s a wonderful victory!” Now Murray and his ilk have scored another victory. Last […]

U.S. regulator hints at changes to plan boosting coal, nuclear plants

18 Oct 2017   Coal, Nuclear, USA

The head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said on Tuesday that a directive from the U.S. energy secretary to prop up struggling nuclear and coal power plants has initiated an important conversation, but hinted the agency may not pass the plan without changes. Late last month, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry directed FERC, an independent agency, to pass a rule within 60 days that would allow certain coal and nuclear plants that store 90 days of fuel on site to recover full costs through regulated pricing, saying the plan increases reliability of the nation’s power grid. “There’s real value in Secretary Perry initiating a conversation” on whether FERC adequately compensates certain power generators for their contributions to reliability, FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee told an energy conference in Washington on Tuesday. Last week, Chatterjee told reporters that he did not want to do anything to disrupt […]

Coal still holds a slight edge as U.S. power source

18 Oct 2017   Coal

U.S. coal production in the first half of the year is slightly lower than last year, but still holds an edge as an electricity source, the government said. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported total U.S. coal production during the first half of the year was slightly lower than the same time last year, but higher than the first half 2016. The EIA’s report said declines in 2017 were driven in part by lower demand for steam coal, which accounted for 90 percent of total U.S. production and serves as the main component for coal-fired electricity generation. “In recent years, coal has lost part of its electricity generation share to other fuels, but it still accounted for 30 percent of the […]

The war on coal is over. Coal lost.

17 Oct 2017   Coal

Last week, Trump’s EPA administrator Scott Pruitt announced, “the war on coal is over.” If there ever was a war on coal, the coal industry has lost. According to a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, many old American coal power plants are being retired or converted to natural gas, and new coal power plants aren’t being built because they’ve become more expensive than natural gas, wind, and solar energy: The share of US electricity coming from coal fell from 51 percent in 2008 to 31 percent in 2016—an unprecedented change. New UCS analysis finds that, of the coal units that remain, roughly one in four plans to retire or convert to natural gas; another 17 percent are uneconomic and could face retirement soon. Natural gas has now surpassed coal to supply 32% of US electricity (up from 21% in 2008), and solar and wind are up […]

China’s Shanxi plans nine more coal mine closures this year

16 Oct 2017   China, Coal

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Authorities in Shanxi, one of China’s biggest coal-producing regions, said on Saturday they plan to close nine more coal mines by the end of this year, according to a post on a government website. The planned closures come after authorities in the region vowed to suspend or slow the construction of 12 million tonnes of coal production capacity from 2016 to 2020 to battle oversupply. The closures will mean the suspension of production in mines which produced a total of 5.25 million tones of coal a year, said Shanxi authorities. In May, the province said it would shut 18 collieries and cut 17 million tonnes of coal capacity this year.

Coal plant closures continue even as U.S. ends ‘Clean Power Plan’

16 Oct 2017   Coal, USA

U.S. power firm Vistra Energy Corp said on Friday that it would shut two coal-fired plants for economic reasons, as closures in the industry continue apace despite the environment regulator saying this week he wanted to end the “war on coal.” U.S. President Donald Trump turns to wave at a coal barge on the Ohio River as he delivers remarks on his potential infrastructure proposals during an event at the Rivertowne Marina in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S. June 7, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst Vistra’s ( VST.N ) subsidiary Luminant will close two Texas power plants, it said in a statement on Friday. The announcement came just a week after Luminant revealed the closure of a further Texas plant. Together the three plants will remove more than 4,200 megawatts (MW) of coal-generated power, enough to supply electricity to more than four million homes. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott […]

Trump tries to save coal, but probably in vain: Kemp

12 Oct 2017   Coal, USA

Senior officials appear to have an almost romantic attachment to the hard physical labor of the coal mines and saving existing coal-fired power plants, most of which are now more than 40 years old and wearing out. At the Department of Energy, Secretary Rick Perry has proposed a grid resiliency rule which would increase payments to coal-fired power producers that can promise secure on-site fuel supplies. And Environmental Protection Administration chief Scott Pruitt has announced his intention to repeal the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan to try to keep coal-fired power plants running longer. The Trump […]

Bloomberg’s charity donates $64 million to ‘war on coal’

12 Oct 2017   Coal

Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s charity gave another $64 million to a campaign that aims to slash the number of U.S. coal-fired plants by two thirds by 2020, he said on Wednesday. FILE PHOTO – Former Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg speaks during the “China and the U.S.: One Belt, One Road and 100-Day Plan,” a discussion hosting high-level delegation of Chinese leaders, in Manhattan, New York, U.S., June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Bria Webb Bloomberg Philanthropies made the donation to the Beyond Coal campaign run by non-profit Sierra Club, and other organizations fighting the burning of coal. Including this latest donation, the charity has given $110 million to Beyond Coal since 2011. The pledge was made a day after President Donald Trump’s environmental regulator announced a move to scrap former president Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan that would have reduced carbon emissions from coal […]

Is The War On Coal Really Over?

12 Oct 2017   Coal, USA

“The war against coal is over.” That was the claim from EPA chief Scott Pruitt ahead of his announcement that he would rewrite a signature climate change program from the Obama era. On Tuesday, Pruitt’s EPA proposed to withdraw the Clean Power Plan (CPP), a controversial step that seeks to roll back the clock on arguably the most important environmental achievement of President Obama. In fact, some argue that the CPP ranks up there along with the healthcare overhaul as one of Obama’s top domestic policy victories. The Clean Power Plan puts limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants with the goal of lowering emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Here’s how it was supposed to work. The EPA would require states to lower greenhouse gas emissions from their power plants, but the agency would simply set a cap and let states figure out how […]

Environmental groups denounce Trump override of climate plan

10 Oct 2017   Coal, USA

A coalition of left-leaning states and environmental groups are vowing to fight the Trump administration’s move to kill an Obama-era effort to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. Speaking Monday in the coal-mining state of Kentucky, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said he would be issuing a new set of rules overriding the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s drive to curb global climate change. “The war on coal is over,” Pruitt declared, adding that no federal agency should ever use its authority to “declare war on any sector of our economy.” It was not immediately clear if Pruitt would seek to issue a new rule without congressional approval, which Republicans had criticized the Obama administration for doing. Pruitt’s rule wouldn’t become final for months, and is then highly likely to face a raft of legal challenges. New York Attorney […]

The Capital Of Coal Is Looking For Other Options

10 Oct 2017   China, Coal

Taiyuan, the capital of China’s northern province of Shanxi, which is known for its coal production, has banned the sale, transport and use of most coal as it tries to cut air pollution, the state news agency Xinhua reported on Monday. The ban took effect from Sunday, restricting companies and individuals “other than major steel and power plants” from selling, transporting or burning coal in the urban area of Taiyuan, it said. The ban was expected to cut coal use by more than 2 million tonnes, or 90 percent of the city’s total consumption, it said. China has ordered Beijing and nearby provinces, including Shanxi, to limit concentrations of airborne pollutants and meet key smog targets in more than two dozen cities starting this month and lasting until March. That period is when air pollution typically increases as more coal is burned to provide heat during […]

E.P.A. Announces Repeal of Major Obama-Era Carbon Emissions Rule

10 Oct 2017   Climate, Coal

The Trump administration announced Monday that it would take formal steps to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature policy to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, setting up a bitter fight over the future of America’s efforts to tackle global warming. At an event in eastern Kentucky, Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said that his predecessors had departed from regulatory norms in crafting the Clean Power Plan, which was finalized in 2015 and would have pushed states to move away from coal in favor of sources of electricity that produce fewer carbon emissions. “The war on coal is over,” Mr. Pruitt said. “Tomorrow in Washington, D.C., I will be signing a proposed rule to roll back the Clean Power Plan. No better place to make that announcement than Hazard, Kentucky.” The repeal […]

US coal train loading counts drop to near 3-month low: railroads – Coal

7 Oct 2017   Coal

US coal train loadings volumes fell for the sixth straight week to a low not seen in almost three months, railroad data showed.  Data filed by the four major US railroads — CSX, Union Pacific, BSNF and Norfolk Southern — for the week ending September 29 shows nationwide coal loadings averaged 98.2 trains/d, down from 100 trains/d the previous week.  The decline marked the first time volumes dipped below triple digits since July, with counts last lower the holiday week ended July 7 at 88.2 trains/d.  The Powder River Basin saw a slight climb in activity that was outpaced by falls in the east. PRB coal train loadings increased to 58.3 trains/d from 57.5 trains/d the previous week and broke a trend of three straight weeks of losses. Central Appalachian loadings were down to 15.2 trains/d from 18.1 trains/d the prior week, and Illinois Basin counts slipped to 6.9 trains/d from 7.6 trains/d.  Northern Appalachian volumes grew to 10 trains/d from 9.2 trains/d.
In other production areas, Utica Basin loadings increased to 5.1 trains/d from 3.9 trains/d, while loadings from the outside the primary basins were down to 3 trains/d from 4 trains/d.

Secretary of Energy Moves to Save Coal: The Art of the Squeal

6 Oct 2017   Coal, USA

A collective sigh of relief could be heard over Capital City in late August, after the U.S. Department of Energy released its much anticipated and even more dreaded study on the reliability and resilience of the U.S. electric grid. The report was ordered by Secretary of Energy Rick Perry in April and took just five months to complete. According to Perry’s order , the findings of the study were to help the federal government formulate sound policies to protect the nation’s electric grid. Perry had earlier commented that he, as the Secretary of Energy, had an obligation to assure the nation of a reliable and resilient electric grid. ​ Appearing a reasonable request, the renewable energy industry and the environmental community read the order as a thinly veiled threat of some proportion to the growing market share of clean energy technologies like solar and wind. An attack thought consistent […]

U.S. Department Of Energy Looks To Subsidize Coal Plants

5 Oct 2017   Coal, USA

There are a number of interesting aspects to the DOE’s directive to the FERC. First, what surprised us was the tone of imminent crisis. “In light of these threats to grid reliability and resiliency it is the Commission’s immediate responsibility to take action….” But the only actual “threat” of any validity cited was the Polar Vortex of 2014 where natural gas supplies were limited in the U.S. north east. The language of crisis, whether valid or not, also allows something else–the expedited regulatory and administrative treatment of this proposal. The DOE is asking the FERC to adopt sweeping rate making proposals in a relatively brief period of time, 60 days. We’d be surprised if the expedited calendar alone didn’t provide grounds for legal challenge and delay. The DOE is directing FERC to make sure that it fully values a particular aspect of wholesale electricity power generation: the ability to […]

In the heart of China’s coal country, a city bans most coal: Xinhua

2 Oct 2017   China, Coal

Taiyuan, the capital of China’s northern province of Shanxi, which is known for its coal production, has banned the sale, transport and use of most coal as it tries to cut air pollution, the state news agency Xinhua reported on Monday. The ban took effect on Sunday, restricting companies and individuals “other than major steel and power plants” from selling, transporting or burning coal in the urban area of Taiyuan, it said. The ban was expected to cut coal use by more than 2 million tonnes, or 90 percent of the city’s total consumption, it said. China has ordered Beijing and nearby provinces, including Shanxi, to limit concentrations of airborne pollutants and meet key smog targets in more […]

US delivers electric shock with coal and nuclear subsidy plan

2 Oct 2017   Coal, Nuclear, USA

A legal battle over the future of the US electricity system is looming after the Trump administration shocked the industry with proposals for new subsidies for coal-fired and nuclear power plants. If implemented, the plan could mean the most radical shake-up of the market in decades. Rick Perry, the energy secretary, on Friday sent a proposal to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission calling for payments for power plants that provide “essential energy and ancillary reliability services” — and defined these in a way that means only coal and nuclear generators are likely to qualify.  Travis Kavulla, the Republican vice-chairman of the utility regulator for Montana, said Mr Perry was proposing to move US power markets from competition to a “command and control” system.  “This way, they will be predetermining through industrial policy who stays in the market and who goes out,” he said.  The plan has been drawn up under a rarely-used legal provision that allows the energy department to propose rules to FERC, an independent government agency. Mr Perry has given FERC 60 days to come up with plans for payments at a “just and reasonable rate” for power plants that meet certain criteria, including having a 90-day fuel supply on site. That requirement would be achievable for coal plants, but not generally possible for gas-fired plants. The policy is diametrically opposed to the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, regulations for cutting carbon dioxide emissions that would have accelerated the closures of coal-fired plants. The rules were finalised but never implemented after the Supreme Court issued an order that put them on hold in 2016.

Kemp: Perry Puts Thumb on the Scale to Save US Coal and Nuclear

30 Sep 2017   Coal, Nuclear

 The U.S. Department of Energy has thrown a lifeline to the struggling U.S. coal and nuclear industries by proposing a new rule that would explicitly compensate them for contributing to electric grid reliability and resiliency. Invoking his powers under the Department of Energy Organization Act, Energy Secretary Rick Perry has directed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to consider a new grid resiliency rule. The proposed rule would require independent system operators (ISOs) and regional transmission organisation (RTOs) regulated by FERC to implement new electricity market rules compensating eligible power producers for their contributions to reliability and resiliency. “Specifically, the (proposed) rule allows for the recovery of costs of fuel-secure generation units that make our grid reliable and resilient,” Perry wrote in a letter to FERC dated Sept. 28. “Such resources […]

Weekly US coal production estimates continue to dip: EIA

29 Sep 2017   Coal

Weekly US coal production totaled an estimated 14.68 million st in the week that ended Saturday, down 5.3% from the prior week and 4.8% below the same week a year ago, according to US Energy Information Administration data released Thursday. It marked the second time this year coal production has dipped below the year-ago total, the first time being during the week of Independence Day. Coal production has steadily declined in the past five weeks since peaking at a year-to-date high of 17 million st for the week that ended August 19. While stockpiles have drawn down, days of burn remain relatively elevated and natural gas prices have weakened, likely curtailing deliveries and stalling production. Article continues below… Coal markets are changing in ways no one could have imagined. To remain competitive, you need to know where coal markets stand. Get essential information for traders, risk managers, analysts and […]

US coal output continues slip: EIA

22 Sep 2017   Coal

US coal production slipped for the fourth consecutive week in the week ending September 16, but at 15.5 million st it was still 7.2% higher than in the same week of 2016, Energy Information Administration data showed Thursday. Coal has benefited from a rebound in exports as well as a slight reduction in natural gas output. Natural gas overtook thermal coal as the major supplier for US power generation in 2016, but in the first six months of the year, US natural gas marketed production was down 1.8% on the January-June 2016 total to 13.95 MMcf, EIA data showed. The weekly thermal coal production data showed output fell from the week ending September 9 in three of the four main production hubs. Output only strengthened in Wyoming and Montana, the largest region by volume, as production in the week ending September 16 (week 37) rose 0.4% week on week […]

Using the E.P.A. to Prop Up Big Coal

19 Sep 2017   Coal

A closed coal mining site in Whitesburg, Ky., one of many such towns trying to develop new economic growth. The Trump administration is unflinching in its misbegotten campaign to protect the coal industry from what has become an obvious and inevitable decline. Eight months in, the administration has already killed, or is in the process of killing, rules that would prevent the dumping of coal mining wastes in streams, impose a temporary moratorium on new mine leases in the West, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants — one of President Barack Obama’s most important efforts to resist climate change. All of this to prop up an industry whose workers would be best served not by false promises of new mining jobs, but by aggressive programs to retrain them for a changing economy. The latest ritualistic bow from Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency […]

EIA: Coal Is Dying As Renewables Rise

15 Sep 2017   Coal

According to the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) new International Energy Outlook for this year, Asian countries that are not in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which includes China and India, will account for more than 60 percent of the projected energy consumption growth between 2015 and 2040. Fossil fuels will still rule the day, accounting for more than three-quarters of global energy consumption through 2040, but renewables and nuclear will outpace fossil fuels in terms of growth. (Click to enlarge) The EIA sees renewables as having the biggest growth spurt, clocking in at a projected 2.3 percent per year increase in consumption between 2015 and 2040, followed by nuclear power, with consumption expected to rise 1.5 percent every year until 2040. Natural gas wins the position of fastest-growing fossil fuel in the EIA’s outlook, which projects worldwide consumption to increase 1.4 percent annually, driven by abundant […]

US weekly coal carload volume declines persist into September: AAR

14 Sep 2017   Coal, USA

US coal carload volumes have dipped for three straight weeks since climbing to a 2017 high, according to data released Wednesday by the Association of American Railroads. For the week that ended September 9, the AAR reported 92,488 coal carloads traveled US railways, down 2.1% from the previous week but up 6.1% from the year-ago week. Volumes have fallen since a 2017-best 97,873 carloads was posted in the week that ended August 19 as the fall shoulder season takes hold. Coal carloads are up 13.8% so far in 2017, or about 371,000 carloads, compared with the first 36 weeks of 2016, according to the AAR data. Article continues below… Coal markets are changing in ways no one could have imagined. To remain competitive, you need to know where coal markets stand. Get essential information for traders, risk managers, analysts and other professionals who need unbiased information for short- and […]

Coal’s problem is not climate change: Kemp

14 Sep 2017   Coal

A worker walks at a coal storage site near a freight station in Shenyang, Liaoning province October 18, 2010. REUTERS/Sheng Li LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. coal companies blame climate campaigners and the Obama administration for waging a war on coal that has cost thousands of jobs and threatened struggling mining communities. But coal’s long-term problems stem not from politics but from physical properties that make it an inferior source of energy compared with oil, gas and (arguably) renewables. Coal has been losing the “war” for market share since the middle of the 20th century as other sources of energy have become cheaper and more abundant. Rising energy consumption in advanced economies and emerging markets masked coal’s relative decline in the second half of the 20th century and first decade of the 21st. But as energy consumption has reached a plateau in developed countries, coal demand has started to decline […]

Strong overseas demand for Australia coal deprives local utilities of fuel

12 Sep 2017   Australia, China, Coal

Strong Asian demand for coal from Australia is depriving domestic power generators of fuel and driving electricity prices higher, energy providers and mining sources said. Local power companies are typically unable or unwilling to match the price premiums some Australian coal has been fetching in Asian markets, where less-polluting high energy, low emissions (HELE) plants are being introduced at a rapid rate, said three coal mining sources. Australian Newcastle thermal coal cargo prices, a benchmark for Asia, have jumped by more than 20 percent since July to over $100 per tonne on strong demand from overseas buyers. The shortage in one of the world’s top producers of the commodity comes as the nation battles to avoid blackouts that have become more frequent following a decade of uncertainty over carbon policy. The shortfall in coal is most acute in New South Wales, the nation’s most populous state, […]

Did This Startup Solve The Carbon Capture Challenge?

When the Mississippi Public Service Commission earlier this year asked Southern Co. to pull the plug on its plan to turn the Kemper power plant into a clean-coal, carbon-capturing facility, the prospects of carbon capture and storage becoming a mainstream approach in power generation became a little bit gloomier. Luckily, Southern Co. is by far not the only one working on CCS. One startup in Texas is forging ahead, preparing for the first tests of its gas-fired, 50MW power plant that runs on natural gas and captures all the carbon dioxide the generation cycle produces to use it in that very cycle. In a story about the Net Power project, MIT Technology Review’s senior energy editor James Temple explains that the startup basically replaces the water that ordinary natural gas plants use to heat up to steam and power the turbines with carbon dioxide. Net Power’s generator uses supercritical […]