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 […]

US weekly coal production estimate continues to show strength: EIA

1 Sep 2017   Coal, USA

Weekly US coal production totaled an estimated 16.7 million st in the week ended August 26, down 1.7% from the prior week but up 9.6% from the year-ago week, Energy Information Administration data showed Thursday. It was the third highest weekly estimate this year, just below last week’s year-to-date high of 17.02 million st. Coal production continues to trend higher as natural gas prices hover near $3/MMBtu and utility stockpiles continue to decline. For the recently-concluded week, coal production in Wyoming and Montana, which primarily consists of coal from the Powder River Basin, totaled an estimated 8 million st, down 0.1% compared with last week but up 6% from the year-ago week. It was the highest weekly estimate reported so far this year. Article continues below… On an annualized basis, coal production in Wyoming and Montana would total 351.6 million st, up 6.6% from last year. In Central Appalachia, […]

Power of love: China’s latest arranged match rattles utilities

30 Aug 2017   China, Coal

Beijing announced its latest arranged marriage by matching the country’s top coal miner with one of its biggest utilities to create a global powerhouse worth $280 billion on China’s Valentine’s Day. But even as couples across the country celebrated the Qixi Festival, the union may spark jealousy elsewhere. Other power companies fear they will lose critical thermal coal supplies just months ahead of winter and face a bigger rival with an outsized role in the market. After a months-long courtship, China’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) announced the deal to combine the nation’s largest coal miner Shenhua Group Corp Ltd [SHGRP.UL] with one of its biggest utilities China Guodian Corp [CNGUO.UL] in a statement on Monday. The new entity will eclipse EDF (EDF.PA) and Enel (ENEI.MI) to become the biggest global power company with around 225 gigawatts of capacity. The deal is also expected […]

Peabody Says Bankruptcy Shields Coal Miner From Climate Change Lawsuits

30 Aug 2017   Climate, Coal

Some coastal communities in the state are suing energy companies over rising sea levels. Coal producer Peabody Energy Corp. says its recent emergence from bankruptcy shields it from lawsuits brought by three coastal California communities against fossil fuel companies over rising sea levels and global warming. The lawsuits were filed last month by the counties of San Mateo and Marin in Northern California and the southern city of Imperial Beach. The suits seek to hold more than three dozen oil, gas and coal companies responsible for greenhouse-gas emissions produced over decades. The lawsuits link these emissions to global climate change and rising sea levels, which they say have made coastal communities more vulnerable to flooding and other dangers. Peabody, which emerged from chapter 11 in April, said Monday in papers filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Missouri that it should be dropped as […]

The Big Name in Coal’s Resurgence: China

28 Aug 2017   China, Coal

A coal ship pulls up to the piers in Newport News, Va. China’s reemergence as a coal importer has boosted the fortunes of U.S. producers who are now shipping more coal abroad than any time in the last two years. The trend has helped solidify a business that at the beginning of last year was suffering through a spate of bankruptcies and threatened with more. Revenue at publicly traded U.S. coal companies grew 19% in the first half of this year compared with the same period a year ago, and the biggest gains came at companies helped the most by exports, according to data compiled by Doyle Trading Consultants, a coal-market-analysis firm. That growth comes at a time when President Donald Trump has vowed to end a long decline in the U.S. coal business. Hundreds of mines have closed in recent years largely because of increasing competition from other […]

Coal’s US comeback fuelled by rival

28 Aug 2017   Coal

Paringa Resources, a mining company with no production but some long-cherished plans, has been one of the most immediate beneficiaries of President Donald Trump’s election. Since 2012 it has been looking at a potential coal mine in Kentucky, acquiring leases and drawing up plans. The reserves are thermal coal, used for power generation, and Paringa had a contract to sell 40 per cent of the mine’s output to utilities owned by PPL. But last year it still needed to raise the capital to make the project a reality. Mr Trump, with his promise to “bring back coal”, caused “a sea-change in sentiment in the market,” says Grant Quasha, Paringa’s chief executive. In the spring, the company was able to raise A$53m (US$42m) on the Australian Stock Exchange and a $20m debt facility from Macquarie, and construction started this month. A year from now, the Poplar Grove mine is scheduled to begin production. The investment is one of the signs of life in the US industry, along with increased production and exports, fuelling talk that coal is making a comeback. Production in the first quarter was up 14 per cent on the equivalent period of 2016, and exports were up 58 per cent. Mr Trump has been quick to claim the credit, telling a rally in Phoenix last week: “We’ve ended the war on beautiful, clean coal.”

U.S. Lays Groundwork for Saving Coal Plants With Grid Report

25 Aug 2017   Coal, Nuclear, USA

Report on electic grid touts value of coal-fired power Calls for ways to compensate reliability of coal, nuclear The Energy Department , in a long-anticipated report on the security of the U.S. electric grid, makes the case for rescuing the nation’s coal industry from widespread plant shutdowns, but stops short of an assault on renewable power that environmentalists had feared . The study, commissioned by Energy Secretary Rick Perry who has warned that policies favoring solar and wind may be forcing plants to shut and threatening the grid, recommends that the Environmental Protection Agency ease rules on coal plants. It also calls for changes to how wholesale electricity is traded and easier permitting for resources such as coal, nuclear and hydropower. The report hands President Donald Trump a plan for fulfilling his campaign promise to revive America’s ailing coal industry and put miners back to work. It paints a […]

The (Only) Culprit Of Coal’s Demise

On August 23, the U.S. Department of Energy released a highly anticipated study on the reliability of the U.S. electricity grid, the product of a review ordered by Secretary of Energy Rick Perry back in April. The overarching conclusion from the nearly 200-page report? Cheap and abundant natural gas is the killer of coal plants, not renewables or excessive environmental regulation, as the U.S. President and many coal proponents have claimed. The findings were notable because many energy analysts expected the report to offer a pretext for promoting the coal industry over other sources of generation while also slashing incentives for renewables. But not only did the report not explicitly recommend such a course of action, it laid the blame for the downfall of coal at the feet of natural gas, rather than on renewables or government policy. To take one example, the DOE report concludes that far from […]

China July trade with North Korea slows from June as coal ban bites

23 Aug 2017   China, Coal, North Korea

China’s trade with North Korea fell in July from a month earlier, data showed on Wednesday, as a ban on coal purchases from its isolated neighbor slowed imports amid growing pressure from the United States to rein in Pyongyang’s missile program. The world’s second-largest economy imported and exported goods worth $456 million in July, down from $489 million in June, according to data from China’s General Administration of Customs. It was up from $426 million in July last year, according to data on the customs website. Year-to-date, trade was up 10.2 percent at $3.01 billion. The data indicates that China’s move to halt North Korean coal imports in February has crimped Pyongyang’s ability to raise hard currency through exports. Iron ore arrivals from North Korea in […]

In a first, U.S. ships coal to Ukraine

23 Aug 2017   Coal, Ukraine

U.S. to ship coal from Pennsylvania to Ukraine as part of an energy security strategy. The first-ever U.S. shipment will arrive at a Ukrainian port in September. Photo by Debbie Hill/ UPI Aug. 22 (UPI) — Coal shipped from the United States could help address energy security issues in Ukraine, the nation’s energy secretary said. U.S. Cabinet officials, the U.S. envoy to Ukraine and representatives from XCoal were on hand for the first shipment of coal from a Pennsylvania facility to Ukrainian energy company Centrenergo. U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said coal sent from the United States would serve as a secure and reliable form of energy for Ukrainian consumers. “The department and this administration look forward to making available even more of our abundant natural resources to allies like Ukraine in the future to promote their own energy security through diversity of supply and source,” he said in […]

Coal price surge justified by China’s dynamics, for now

21 Aug 2017   China, Coal

How much of the current surge in thermal coal prices in Asia is because of a fundamental shift in the supply-demand balance, and how much is down to speculative froth? This is a question often asked when a commodity experiences a strong gain – or drop – in price, especially when the fundamentals don’t appear to have shifted that much, at least on a casual view. Virtually everybody in the coal industry can agree that the strong performance in seaborne thermal coal this year is being driven by market dynamics in top importer China. What’s harder to work out is whether this rally will run out of steam or whether there has been a structural change in the market. The argument for a structural change in China […]

US coal train loadings increase to year-high mark: railroads

19 Aug 2017   Coal

US coal train loadings volumes have remained strong, and increases this week across all the major basins pushed totals to a new year-high mark. Data filed by the four major US railroads — CSX, Union Pacific, BSNF and Norfolk Southern — for the week ended August 11 showed nationwide coal loadings averaged 108.7 trains/d, up from 106.3 trains/d the previous week. Totals have stayed above 100 trains/d for four straight weeks. Powder River Basin loadings climbed to a year-high 64.4 trains/d, up from the previous 2017-best 63.8 trains/d in the previous two weeks. PRB counts have stayed above 60 trains/d in six of the last seven weeks. Central Appalachian loadings increased to 15.8 trains/d from 15.4 trains/d, and Northern Appalachian loadings grew to 12.1 trains/d from 11.8 trains/d. Illinois Basin loadings climbed to 8 trains/d from 7.1 trains/d. In other production areas, Utica Basin loadings dipped to 3.8 trains/d […]

Booming thermal coal price on China demand cheers miners

17 Aug 2017   China, Coal

Australian thermal coal prices for spot cargoes above $100 a tonne, lifted by reports of strikes and strong Chinese demand, are providing a boost in earnings and share prices for miners like Glencore and Whitehaven Coal. A crackdown on illegal mining and pollution in China has curbed domestic supplies, just as a heat wave and lower hydro power output have boosted demand for coal for power generation, forcing up prices. A similar squeeze in 2016 pushed prices to $114 a tonne and miners are again eyeing windfall profits, despite warning that the market is volatile. “Coal demand remains strong, especially in Asia,” said Paul Flynn, managing director of Whitehaven Coal. “Imports of thermal coal into China have been higher than anticipated, and when combined with weather related constraints on supply from Indonesia and some production issues in Australia, have pushed up the price of seaborne thermal […]

Russian scientist says leave coal in the ground

17 Aug 2017   Coal, Russia

Nearly all of the world’s coal reserves and 30 percent of its oil should be left alone in order to keep climate change at bay, a Russian scientist said. Mikhail Yulkin, the director general at the Center for Environmental Investments, told Russian news agency Tass that investors were moving to low-carbon energy resources with such vigor that it was “needless” to call it alternative energy. A report last week on the global energy balance from the International Energy Agency found coal was more or less at parity with natural gas as an energy source for the first time ever. According to the IEA, global coal production declined last year by 458 million tons as advanced economies move toward greener resources. “In order to […]

Energy Department Faces Pressure Over Power Study

16 Aug 2017   Coal, Nuclear, USA

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry at a clean energy conference in Beijing in June. Energy Secretary Rick Perry faces stepped-up pressure from environmental groups over a power grid study that he has signaled could help bolster coal and nuclear power. On Monday, the Sierra Club announced it filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging that the Energy Department violated laws on public access to information by not responding to its Freedom of Information Act requests for communications between the agency and outside groups, such as fossil-fuel interests. The suit asks the court to force the department to turn over those records. “We’ve repeatedly asked DOE for information to ensure reality and science are coming before polluter politics, but we have only been met with delays and secrecy,” said Mary Anne Hitt, a Sierra Club director. The Energy Department didn’t immediately respond to a […]

America’s Other Coal Job, Ignored by Politicians, Is Dying Fast

11 Aug 2017   Coal

Coal-fired power plants are shutting down or shedding staff Trader sees coal ‘going to zero’; workers cite safety risks A couple months ago, Donald Trump was cheering a new coal mine in Pennsylvania that will put 70 people to work — good news for a president whose pledge to revive the industry helped get him elected. But a bigger group of coal workers has already suffered sweeping job cuts, and it’s bracing for more. Coal-fired power plants employ more people than mines, and they’re shutting down all over the country. Cheap natural gas, the rise of renewables backed by tax credits, and subsidies for nuclear energy will likely combine to keep the trend going — and leave more people like Lynnette Faje out of work. Lynnette Faje Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg Faje had spent more than a quarter century at an Illinois-based power company that’s owned today by NRG Energy […]

Coal production gains slowing, U.S. report finds

10 Aug 2017   Coal, USA

Coal is in the rise in the first months of the Trump presidency, but renewable energy showing momentum in its own right. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI Aug. 9 (UPI) — Coal exports from the United States increased, but are slowing down, while renewable energy is on pace for short-term growth, the federal government reported. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported coal exports were around 37 million tons total for the first five months of the year, a level that’s 60 percent higher than the same time last year. U.S. President Trump in his first weeks in office took aim at environmental rules he said threatened the coal industry. According to the White House, more than 600 coal mines closed in the six years ending in 2015, production declined by more than 177 million tons and more than 36,000 jobs were lost “without any sign of relief.” On the […]

Australia’s North Queensland Jul coal exports rise 9% on year to 12.24 mil mt: NQBP

9 Aug 2017   Australia, Coal

Exports of coal from the metallurgical coal dominant region of North Queensland, Australia, totaled 12.24 million mt in July, up 9% year on year but down 4% from June, North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation data showed Tuesday. The exports come via the 85 million mt/year capacity Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal, the 55 million mt/year Hay Point Coal Terminal and the 50 million mt/year Abbot Point Coal Terminal. Total exports in July from the three terminals translate to an annualized rate of 144.16 million mt, which leaves 45.84 million mt of latent capacity across the three terminals with a combined capacity of 190 million mt/year. The biggest of the three, DBCT, which is a Queensland State Government-owned common user facility, shipped 5.82 million mt during the month, which is up 8% year on year but down 10% from a six-month high of 6.44 million mt in June, the figures showed. […]

Under Trump, Coal Mining Gets New Life on U.S. Lands

7 Aug 2017   Coal

The Trump administration is wading into one of the oldest and most contentious debates in the West by encouraging more coal mining on lands owned by the federal government. It is part of an aggressive push to both invigorate the struggling American coal industry and more broadly exploit commercial opportunities on public lands. The intervention has roiled conservationists and many Democrats, exposing deep divisions about how best to manage the 643 million acres of federally owned land — most of which is in the West — an area more than six times the size of California. Not since the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion during the Reagan administration have companies and individuals with economic interests in the lands, mining companies among them, held such a strong upper hand. Clouds of dust blew across the horizon […]

Weekly US coal production estimate highest since February: EIA

3 Aug 2017   Coal, USA

Weekly US coal production totaled an estimated 16.1 million st in the week ended July 29, up 4.4% from the prior week and up 13.1% from the year-ago week, US Energy Information Administration data showed Thursday. It was the fifth highest estimate so far this year, and first to top 16 million st since the week ended February 18. The production increase comes as stockpiles continue to decline and coal consumption is higher. Platts Analytics’ Bentek Energy estimates utility coal stockpiles as of last Thursday stood at 129.7 million st, which would be the lowest monthly total since September 2014. Platts Analytics also estimated US coal consumption is up 3.2% this year compared to last year, primarily due to higher natural gas prices. For the recently-concluded week, coal production in Wyoming and Montana, which primarily consists of coal from the Powder River Basin, totaled an estimated 7.62 million st, […]

US coal prices could rally later this year if stockpiles continue declining

3 Aug 2017   Coal

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 long-term action and analysis on the coal markets. Platts Coal Trader, supplemented with Platts Coal Trader Analytics, helps you: Make better informed business decisions Keep up with daily price fluctuations and market moves Find out what trades are occurring and the price and quantity Hedge better with NYMEX prices and financial settlements Learn more what affects the market, and find details about mergers, acquisitions, and new players and more. Video Transcript US coal prices could rally later this year if stockpiles continue declining By Andrew Moore, managing editor, Platts Coal Trader Welcome to the Snapshot, a series examining the forces shaping and driving global commodities markets today. Coal stockpiles […]

U.S. coal exports surge, but thank China, not Trump:

31 Jul 2017   Coal

U.S. coal miners are almost certainly cheering the sharp rise in exports of their product, but their good fortune is mainly the result of Chinese domestic policies that have driven up global prices for the polluting fuel. While U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration would no doubt like to claim credit for reviving the coal industry, it’s likely there has been virtually no structural change that will ensure a sustained boost for U.S. coal exports. Rather, the situation of the previous years remains intact, which sees the United States as a swing supplier of coal, with additional exports largely dependent on whether prices in Asia are high enough to make the economics of the long sea voyage possible. This dynamic is shown by looking at the breakdown of seaborne coal exports from the United States, as tracked by Thomson Reuters Supply Chain and Commodity […]

U.S. coal exports soar, in boost to Trump energy agenda, data shows

28 Jul 2017   Coal, USA

U.S. coal exports have jumped more than 60 percent this year due to soaring demand from Europe and Asia, according to a Reuters review of government data, allowing President Donald Trump’s administration to claim that efforts to revive the battered industry are working. The increased shipments came as the European Union and other U.S. allies heaped criticism on the Trump administration for its rejection of the Paris Climate Accord, a deal agreed by nearly 200 countries to cut carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels like coal. The previously unpublished figures provided to Reuters by the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed exports of the fuel from January through May totaled 36.79 million tons, up 60.3 percent from 22.94 million tons in the same period in 2016. While reflecting a bounce from 2016, the shipments remained well-below volumes recorded in equivalent periods the previous five years. […]

After China-induced price spike, coal set to resume long-term decline

26 Jul 2017   Coal

Coal prices’ march to eight-month highs, driven by China’s huge appetite for power consumption, looks like an interlude in a longer-term decline and is seen losing traction later this year. Investors widely anticipate a slow demise for coal use due to policies encouraging cleaner natural gas and renewable energy generation, but the shorter-term outlook for the industry has seen a sharp reversal of fortunes. Asia’s benchmark physical coal prices GCLNWCPFBMc1 have gained more than a third from lows seen in May to nearly $98 per ton, while European benchmark API2 2018 coal futures are at eight-month highs of around $74 a ton. Recent gains are largely due to high demand in China, where power consumption has jumped […]

Coal has no future, says US railroad boss

20 Jul 2017   Coal, Railroads

One of the largest haulers of US coal says fossil fuels have no future, despite pledges to the contrary from President Donald Trump. CSX, a freight railroad company with origins in the bituminous coal seams of Appalachia, will not buy a single new locomotive to pull coal trains, chief executive Hunter Harrison told analysts on Wednesday. “Fossil fuels are dead,” Mr Harrison said. “That’s a long-term view. It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s not going to be in two or three years. But it’s going away, in my view.”  His comments come as the White House aims to revive the American coal industry by rescinding environmental regulations and abandoning the Paris climate agreement. Mr Trump surrounded himself with coal miners earlier this year when he signed an executive order he said was “putting an end to the war on coal”.  Fossil fuels are dead . . . It’s not going to be in two or three years. But it’s going away, in my view Yet US power generators are building more plants fuelled by cheap natural gas, displacing old coal-fired units. Falling costs for solar and wind energy have also eaten into coal’s market share.  North American railroads have reshaped their asset holdings in acknowledgment that coal’s apex has passed.

Coal and Nuclear are Uneconomic — More Bombshells from Perry’s Draft Grid Study

19 Jul 2017   Coal, USA

On Saturday, we reported that a leaked draft of Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s grid study obtained by Bloomberg debunks his attack on renewable energy. ThinkProgress has now obtained a copy of that draft, and it has many more surprises — or, rather, findings that are fairly well known to energy experts but may come as an unpleasant surprise to Perry and the White House. For instance, a large fraction of America’s aging fleet of coal and nuclear plants are simply not economic to operate anymore. The July draft, which ThinkProgress received from multiple sources, is here , so the public will be able to compare the final “politically-approved” version with the draft prepared by Department of Energy (DOE) staff. It is widely feared Perry’s team of Trump appointees will simply erase the the study’s inconvenient truths before it final report is released to the public. The release of the […]