The Balkan region’s first privately-funded power plant came online on Tuesday, increasing the region’s dependency on coal-fired power stations even as environmental concerns are driving them to the brink of the extinction elsewhere in Europe. It was built by China’s Dongfang Electric Corp and financed with the help of a 350 million euro ($391.13 million) loan from the China Development Bank. Even though the Western Balkans has a power deficit, European investors are reluctant to finance more polluting coal which forms the backbone of supply in the region, attracting Chinese financiers and contractors. Some 2,800 megawatts of extra coal-fired capacity is planned across the region in coming years at a total cost of 4.5 billion euros, most of it financed by China. –Maja Zuvela, Reuters, 20 September 2016
China’s efforts to reduce overcapacity in the coal and steel sectors have recorded a slow start, casting doubts on whether the government can honour its pledge to trim down the two huge industries as the prices of the two commodities also start to rise. China’s economic planning agency gathered the country’s major coal producers in Beijing earlier this month telling them to boost output. Economists and analysts said it would be an uphill battle for Beijing to keep the lid on output, even though some obsolete plants were expected to close down. —Sidney Leng, South China Morning Post, 21 September 2016
Chinese wind turbines are idle 15 percent of the time to avoid damaging the power grid, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). China has greatly slowed its construction of new wind turbines to cope with an oversupply of intermittent and unreliable wind power, which is threatening to cause blackouts. The government stopped approving new wind power projects in the country’s windiest regions in early March, according to China’s National Energy Administration statement. –Andrew Follett, The Daily Caller, 20 September 2016
A sharp increase in solar power production in China and a sharp fall in domestic demand have sparked a sudden surge of cut-price exports, undermining a China-EU agreement to limit damage to European producers. EU ProSun president, Milan Nitzschke, said that prices had come down by some 20% in the past month to below the cost of production. “We fear a second wave of bankruptcies,” he said. —Reuters, 14 September 2016
Sales of electric cars have fallen sharply after the UK government cut a grant scheme that encouraged drivers to switch from petrol. According to Department for Transport statistics, between April and June 4,200 plug-in cars were sold – the lowest for two years. The government announced last year that it would extend grants for electric cars for a further two years but halved the payments to £2,500. —Biofuels International, 15 September 2016
It may be a little premature for the oil industry to panic over the influx of electric vehicles (EV). EVs would need to represent at least 50 percent of the global car market by 2035 if the Paris Agreement’s minimum target for reducing global warming rates by 1.5 degrees Celsius is to become a reality, according to a fresh report by the Climate Action Tracker. But Big Oil can sleep easy, nonetheless. Going from 1 percent to 50 percent in a little over 30 years looks like a pretty ambitious plan—a plan that is contingent on too many ifs. –Irina Slav, Oil Price, 16 September 2016
British Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to world leaders to ratify the Paris agreement to slow climate change by the end of the year. In her maiden speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, May said the UK would commit itself to tackling climate change by starting the procedures to implement the landmark deal agreed in December last year. —Reuters, 21 September 2016
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