In the dusty scrub of the Thar desert, Pakistan has begun to dig up one of the world’s largest deposits of low-grade, brown, dirty coal to fuel new power stations that could revolutionize the country’s economy. The project is one of the most expensive among an array of ambitious energy developments that China is helping the country to build as part of a $55 billion economic partnership.
Pakistan relies on coal for just 0.1 percent of its power, according to the Pakistan Business Council. The Thar projects and others could see that jump to 24 percent by 2020, according to Tahir Abbas, analyst at Karachi-based brokerage Arif Habib Ltd. Pakistan’s coal reserves would give the nation a cheap domestic alternative to expensive oil and gas imports. —Bloomberg, 1 April 2017
Just a few short years ago, few would have dared to predict that coal could have a future in the energy policies of emerging and developed countries alike. Yet the fossil fuel is undergoing an unexpected renaissance in Asia, buoyed by technical breakthroughs and looming questions about squaring development with energy security. –Grace Guo, The Diplomat, 17 February 2017
An Important shift is now underway in global coal trade. With a completely new export route opening up for U.S. producers over the last few weeks. To South Korea. Platts reported yesterday that coal buyers in Korea have seen a surge of bookings for U.S. thermal coal. With sources telling the news service that 1.5 million tonnes of total U.S. supply have now been arranged for delivery between July and September. That ideal market position looks set to create a mini-boom for U.S. exports into Korea. –Dave Forest, OilPrice 23 March 2017
Is coal finished, to be displaced by renewables in a move that will solve climate change and clean up air quality across the world? Is coal — as one headline writer put it recently — in free fall? Or is it still the dominant and growing source of power and heat in countries that make up the bulk of the global economy? Coal is plentiful and cheap and will be made cheaper still if US producers, under pressure from gas in their domestic market, export more. Until the new sources of energy supply can beat the current low prices coal will remain the leading source of heat and power and will meet something like a third of the world’s energy needs. Coal is the energy source of choice, through necessity, of the poorer half of the world. Times may be tough for the industry, and the continued use of coal in sub-critical technology may be bad for the environment, but like it or not coal is not in free fall. –Nick Butler, Financial Times, 3 April 2017
Chinese engineer and inventor Feng Weizhong has an easy ¬≠answer to how China plans to keep slashing coal use and power-¬≠station emissions while relying on coal to provide at least 55 per cent of its massive energy demand for decades to come. The effervescent Professor Feng, who is also general manager of a large Shanghai power plant, explained to The Australian how the country can contrive to do both at the same time. “Simple! It’s clean coal!” China’s national energy ad¬≠min¬≠istration has enlisted Feng as its champion in renovating outdated power plants and developing new ones that meet its needs to make more energy from lower fuel inputs, while emitting far less ¬≠pollution and carbon dioxide. –Rowan Callick, The Australian, 3 April 2017
The emerging trend in UK electricity prices to industry confirms civil service advice to Mr Blair, which he ignored, that the EU Renewables Directive (2009) would disadvantage the UK relative to other members of the European Union. If the Industrial Strategy is to succeed, the Renewables Directive will have to be repealed, post-Brexit, and immediate steps should be taken to resile from its commitments. –John Constable, GWPF Energy Comment, 2 April 2017