Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Coal in decline: an industry on life support. Where does this leave Adani project?

Australia now exports about 200m tonnes. Adani project is, by any measure, a massive expansion that could push the world measurably closer to breaching the goals of the Paris climate agreement……

“The [Adani Carmichael coal] project is not on the radar, not expected to happen, immaterial for India’s energy plans given the progressive move away from imported thermal coal and just unbankable for Indian banks given excessive Adani group debt.”

Coal in decline: Adani in question and Australia out of step  Special report: India and China are shifting away from coal imports and coal-fired power while a mega-mine is planned for Queensland. Where does this leave coal in Australia?

Coal in decline: an industry on life support, Guardian, by Adam Morton , 24 Aug 17,   The Paris-based International Energy Agency ……suggested investment in new coal power across the globe has peaked and is on the verge of a steep decline. In a coinciding media briefing, the IEA chief economist, Laszlo Varro, declared the “century of coal” that started in 2000 – evident in the extraordinary wave of investment by emerging Asian nations – may already be over.

It is becoming clear that Chinese coal demand has peaked,” he went on. “The outlook for imports [to] India and other countries is uncertain.”

What does this mean for Australia, producer of about 30% of the world’s coal, as it plans a vast expansion in production in outback Queensland?……

Market analysts at Citi Research last month warned investors that the outlook for coal stocks was pessimistic: major banks were financing fewer projects; Donald Trump’s much-vaunted pro-coal and anti-climate change stance was having little impact in the US…..

In a report for the Australian Conservation Foundation, consultants ACIL Allenagreed. “At present, there is considerable pessimism regarding the long-term outlook for prices of thermal coal in international markets,” it said. “This is reflected in forecasts by credible Australian and international agencies.”

Citi forecasts modest growth in Australian thermal coal exports in the near term, including the potential expansion of a couple of mines. But with prices expected to fall to US$60 a tonne by the end of the decade, down from a US$110 peak late last year, it sees no incentive for investment in new major projects – especially given public opposition and investor apathy towards coal.

It makes for an unlikely environment in which to develop a mega-mine backed by public money. But that is what Australia is considering.

The Indian billionaire Gautam Adani’s $21bn proposal to build a giant mine in the Galilee basin, about 340km south-west of Townsville, dates back to 2010. It has outlasted three Australian prime ministers and survived the signing of a global deal to combat climate change. Unsuccessful court battles have been waged and lost by opponents, promised imminent start dates have come and gone, and government support has steadily increased.

Though known as the Carmichael mine, if fully developed it will actually be 11 mines: six of them open-cut and five underground, spread over a length of 50km. Eventually, the company says, it could yield up to 60m tonnes a year to be shipped to burn in Indian coal plants. The rail and port infrastructure necessary would open up the possibility of reviving some of the dormant coalmining plans in the basin, with a total potential additional output of about 150m tonnes of coal a year.

To put that into context, Australia now exports about 200m tonnes. It is, by any measure, a massive expansion that could push the world measurably closer to breaching the goals of the Paris climate agreement……

India is the world’s second largest importer of thermal coal. It doesn’t want to be. Its coal minister, Piyush Goyal, has repeatedly said he wants to cut imports completely. It won’t happen in the short term – some of the country’s plants were built to run using higher-quality coal, which is not available domestically – but a shift is under way. Reuters reported that demand for imported thermal coal in India fell 13% in the first seven months of this year.

Meanwhile, the country is seeing extraordinary reductions in the cost of large-scale solar power – 40% in a year – to the point where it is cheaper than domestic coal for the first time. There are questions over whether this is sustainable, but India has set an ambitious solar target of 100 gigawatts within five years. A draft national electricity plan released in December found no new coal-fired plants would be needed for a decade, and proposed coal plants with a capacity of 13.7GW – more than half Australia’s total coal fleet – were cancelled in May alone.

What does this mean for the Carmichael mine? Goyal says India does not need it, but will use the coal. Tim Buckley, of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, says a two-week trip he took to India to meet energy executives and government officials suggested a different story. “There was almost zero discussion on Carmichael,” he says. “The project is not on the radar, not expected to happen, immaterial for India’s energy plans given the progressive move away from imported thermal coal and just unbankable for Indian banks given excessive Adani group debt.”

India is not the only country rethinking the scale of its coal commitment……https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/25/coal-in-decline-adani-in-question-and-australia-out-of-step

 

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August 25, 2017 - Posted by | business, climate change - global warming, Queensland

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