Thursday, September 22, 2016

GWPF Newsletter: China Funds And Builds Europe’s New Coal Plants








EU's Green Obsession Opens The Door For Chinese Investment

In this newsletter:

1) China Funds And Builds Europe’s New Coal Plants
Reuters, 20 September 2016
 
2) Bosnia Green-Lights China Deal For New Coal Power Plant
SeeNews. 20 September 2016
 
3) Doubts Cast Over Whether China Can Cut Back Huge Coal And Steel Sectors
South China Morning Post, 21 September 2016
 
4) China’s Grid Is So Fragile It Must Turn Off Wind Turbines 15% Of The Time
The Daily Caller, 20 September 2016
 
5) China’s Solar Panel Glut: EU Fears Second Wave Of Bankruptcies
Reuters, 14 September 2016 
 
6) Electric Car Sales Drop After UK Government Cuts Subsidies
Biofuels International, 15 September 2016
 
7) Why Big Oil Shouldn’t Worry About Electric Cars
Oil Price, 16 September 2016
 
8) Theresa May Pledges To Ratify Paris Climate Deal By Year-End
Reuters, 21 September 2016

Full details:

1) China Funds And Builds Europe’s New Coal Plants
Reuters, 20 September 2016
Maja Zuvela

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. 
 

http://bankwatch.org/image-upload/BalkanCoalMap-sm.png
 Planned coal power plants in south-eastern Europe; source Bankwatch

The 300-megawatt plant, in the northern Bosnian town of Stanari, is a foreign investment in a chronically impoverished country that remains heavily dependent on foreign aid more than 20 years after it emerged from war.

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.

Work on the investment, by Serbian-run but British-based Energy Financing Team (EFT), started in 2013. 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.

EFT, which focuses on power markets in central and southeast Europe, won a 30-year concession in 2008 to build the Stanari plant and expand an adjacent coal mine that will feed it at a total cost of 560 million euros ($625.63 million).

Lignite – the most polluting type of coal – is widely available in the Balkans, making it appealing to governments seeking ways of ensuring security of supply and keeping energy prices low while also placating influential mining lobbies.

The new plant, which will generate 2,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity per year, creating 1,000 jobs, will strengthen Bosnia’s position as a leading energy exporter to the region.

It generates more than 40 percent of its electricity from hydroelectric power, making it, along with Bulgaria and Romania, one of the few Balkan countries with a domestic power surplus.

Environmentalists fear that the region’s cash-strapped governments will be tempted to cut corners in this and other projects, exposing them to costly upgrade costs once they join the European Union.

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.

Full story

2) Bosnia Green-Lights China Deal For New Coal Power Plant
SeeNews. 20 September 2016
Maja Garaca

SARAJEVO (Bosnia and Herzegovina), September 20 (SeeNews) – Bosnian state-controlled coal miner Banovici plans to sign a contract for the construction of a 350 MW thermal power plant (TPP) with China’s Dongfang Electric Corporation at the Riga summit in November, the government of Bosnia’s Muslim-Croat Federation has said.

Works on the project, which were planned to begin in the middle of 2016, have been delayed due to 14 contentious issues which surfaced in the negotiations between Banovici and the Chinese company, the Federation government said in a statement on Monday.

Full story

3) Doubts Cast Over Whether China Can Cut Back Huge Coal And Steel Sectors
South China Morning Post, 21 September 2016
Sidney Leng

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.

President Xi Jinping has made reducing overcapacity a cornerstone of his economic reform policy since late last year, but China’s progress in curbing excessive production at coal and steel plants has fallen behind schedule.

China’s over production and export of steel has become a source of friction with the United States and European Unon, with allegations that it is dumping cheap, subsidised steel on overseas markets, harming local manufacturers.

US President Barack Obama met with Premier Li Keqiang on Monday at the United Nations General Assembly in New York and urged China to continue addressing industrial overcapacity, according to a White House statement.

Beijing has set a target of cutting excess capacity in steel by 45 million tonnes and by 250 million tonnes in coal by the end of November.

By the end of July, however, only 47 per cent of the capacity reduction target in the steel industry and 38 per cent in coal were achieved, according to the latest available data from the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s economic planning agency.

Steel production output actually increased by 2.2 per cent in the first eight months of the year compared with the same period in 2015.

The price of the most traded form on steel on the Shanghai Futures Exchange is still a quarter higher than a year earlier, offering steel plants sufficient room to make money. Profits at private steel mills in Hebei province, an important steel production base in China, nearly tripled in the first half of this year, the state-run news agency Xinhua news agency reported earlier this week.

Coal output in the first eight months of the year fell 10 per cent set against the same period in 2015.

It has created a sharp increase in coal prices across the country. The benchmark coal price at Qinhuangdao, the nation’s major coal port, is a third higher than the beginning of this year.

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.

Full story

4) China’s Grid Is So Fragile It Must Turn Off Wind Turbines 15% Of The Time
The Daily Caller, 20 September 2016
Andrew Follett

Chinese wind turbines are idle 15 percent of the time to avoid damaging the power grid, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).


Image result for China wind power grid

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.

China is still building a “rosy” new wind turbine every hour, an IEA official told BBC News, despite an over-supply of wind-driven electricity and fears more intermittent energy could damage the power grid.

“The rather rosy statement on wind energy hides the issue that 2015 and the first half of 2016 also saw record new installations of coal,” an unidentified IEA spokesman told BBC News. “China has now a clear over-supply. In the province of Gansu, 39% of wind energy had to be curtailed (turned off because there is not enough capacity on the grid).”

The average European wind farm is forced to curtail only about 2 percent of its electricity annually.

More than one-in-three wind turbines currently installed worldwide are in China. Even with this enormous number of turbines, China still produces less electricity from wind than America, indicating the country is so over-saturated with turbines that it is damaging the power grid, potentially leading to blackouts.

China’s blackout problems aren’t a shock to the green energy industry, as the country is wasting enough wind energy to power Great Britain.

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. These regions previously installed nearly 71 gigawatts of wind turbines, more than the rest of China combined. A single gigawatt of electricity is enough to power 700,000 homes. Government statistics show that 33.9 billion kilowatt-hours of wind-power, or about 15 percent of all Chinese wind power, was wasted in 2015 alone.

Beijing has ordered wind operators to stop expanding four times in the last five years, because unreliable wind power was damaging the country’s power grid and costing the government enormous amounts of money. The best areas for wind turbines in China are far away from the coastal provinces where most of its population lives. Building the infrastructure to transmit wind energy over long distances is enormously expensive and could cost many times the price of generating the electricity.

Full story

5) China’s Solar Panel Glut: EU Fears Second Wave Of Bankruptcies
Reuters, 14 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.
 

Image result for China solar war EU
“We fear a second wave of bankruptcies,” said the head of an association of EU solar producers.

China produced 27 gigawatts (GW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules in the first half of 2016, an increase of 37.8 percent and installed 20 GW of new solar power capacity in the same period, three times as much as the same period a year ago.

However, demand has since tailed off. Solar projects operational since July face a reduced price paid by grid operators for their power. The China Photovoltaic Industry Association (CPIA) has forecast total new capacity by the year-end will be 30 GW, implying just 10 GW in the second half.

EU ProSun, an association of EU solar producers, says the price of some panels had fallen to below 0.40 euros per watt, compared with a previous average European price of about 0.50 euros.

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.

Full story

6) Electric Car Sales Drop After UK Government Cuts Subsidies
Biofuels International, 15 September 2016

Sales of electric cars have fallen sharply after the UK government cut a grant scheme that encouraged drivers to switch from petrol.


Image result for electric cars subsidies cartoonImage result for electric cars subsidies cartoon
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. Around 17,500 cars were registered in the first three months of the year as motorists took advantage of the grants before they were cut.

The Department for Transport was criticised for its “lack of strategy” in encouraging green car sales in an environmental audit select committee report published earlier this month (September).

Full story

7) Why Big Oil Shouldn’t Worry About Electric Cars
Oil Price, 16 September 2016
Irina Slav

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.

To put the EV target in perspective, let’s see some new EV registration figures for Q1 2015 by the top performers worldwide. The leader was Norway, with new EV registrations accounting for a third of the total. Second from the top globally was the Netherlands, where new EV buys were 5.7 percent of all new registrations, and the UK came third with EVs accounting for 1.2 percent of all new registration.
In the rest of the leading car markets, including the U.S., China, Germany, and Japan, new EV sales didn’t even make it to 1 percent of total new car sales. What’s more, these figures include not just purely electric vehicles, but also plug-in hybrids, which use fossil fuel.

According to an FT analysis from 2010, projections are for EVs to reach a market share of around 9 percent in Western Europe by 2020, almost 14 percent in the US, and less than 3 percent in China. These are projections for a ten-year period, it’s worth noting, made when the EV industry was in its childhood.

Since then, incentives for EV buyers have been ramped up, carmakers are striving to make their electric cars more affordable and their batteries more durable, and campaigners are campaigning for a “paradigm shift”, as CAT calls it, that would see more people realize the urgency of climate change action.

Hypothetically, this paradigm shift would mark the beginning of the end for the oil industry as we know it. Realistically, however, such paradigm shifts take time, and a lot of it, especially if we’re looking at the world as a whole, not just the developed part of it.

In February this year, Bloomberg New Energy Finance published a report forecasting that by 2040 electric vehicles will account for 35 percent of the global market, with long-range EVs selling for an average $22,000. This, according to the authors, would be made possible by the billions of dollars invested in better, more durable batteries, and more efficient EVs, which should see the annual growth rate in sales of such vehicles at 30 percent or more.

According to the Bloomberg analysts, if this happens, EVs will displace around 1 million barrels of crude in daily global consumption some time around 2026, and 2 million bpd in 2028. To compare, the current oil glut is somewhere between 1 and 2 million barrels a day. And the oil industry is still standing.

In its report, CAT, which is a group of four research organizations tracking the climate change fight efforts of 32 countries that account for 80 percent of harmful emissions, says that the last internal combustion engine-powered car must be sold in 2035, if the Paris Agreement targets are to be achieved. This basically gives carmakers less than 20 years to either switch to all-EV production or go under. It sounds unreal, and it is unreal.

Global new car sales so far this year in some of the biggest markets have reached 33.268 million as of end-August. At average new car sales of around 3 million vehicles a month, the annual this year could reach some 45 million vehicles. At the moment, the share of EVs in this total is 1 percent globally.

Full post

8) Theresa May Pledges To Ratify Paris Climate Deal By Year-End
Reuters, 21 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.

French President Francois Hollande last month called on countries to act fast and implement the deal by year-end.

"The Government is determined to tackle climate change to help create a safer and more prosperous future for us all," UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark said in a statement on Wednesday.

Full post

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at www.thegwpf.com.

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