18 November 2009

Meantime, In the Real World

As people wonder if the Copenhagen conference will lead to any significant outcomes, the dramatic expansion of carbon-intensive infrastructure continues with little apparent worry about the effects of climate policies. From a quick tour of news from Asia over the past day or so:

From India:
JSW Steel Ltd., India’s third- biggest producer, may spend $500 million buying coal mines overseas to secure supplies for its local expansion.

The company is seeking mines in nations including Australia and South Africa, Managing Director Sajjan Jindal said in an interview in Mumbai. JSW Steel plans to source half of its coal overseas, he said.

Indian steelmakers are expanding as local demand is expected to grow by about 10 percent in the second half of this financial year. JSW Steel is looking at new locations after failing to find coking coal at its exploration project in Mozambique.

The company plans to raise capacity by more than 33 percent to 10 million metric tons at its Vijayanagar plant in South India by 2011 as demand from customers including Larsen & Toubro Ltd. and GMR Group increases, Jindal said in the interview yesterday. Later, JSW aims to build a mill in West Bengal state with an initial 3 million ton capacity, he said.

And also from India:
Top Indian power-equipment maker Bharat Heavy Electricals (BHEL.BO) said on Wednesday it has signed a joint-venture pact to build a 1,600 megawatt (MW) thermal power plant in the central state of Madhya Pradesh.

The power plant at Khandwa will be equipped with supercritical technology, which helps lower coal consumption and leads to lower emissions.

State utility Madhya Pradesh Power Generation Co Ltd and BHEL will initially have an equal share in the joint venture. Their stakes will later be diluted to 26 percent each, with the rest held by financial institutions and other partners, BHEL said.

BHEL has been promoting joint ventures with state utilities to set up and operate supercritical thermal power plants. It has set up joint ventures with the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

Earlier this month, leading Indian power producer NTPC (NTPC.BO) said it would set up a 2,640 megawatt (MW) thermal power plant under a pact with the Madhya Pradesh state government and the MP Power Trading Co.
And from Bangladesh:
Bangladesh plans to set up a fund that will invest as much as $10 billion in energy and power projects within the next decade to resolve an electricity shortage, a senior official said.

The 11-month-old government also is seeking to attract about $4 billion of investments in power plants and a liquefied- natural-gas import terminal, and will meet potential investors in London, New York and Singapore in December, said Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, 64, energy adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed who also holds the post of energy minister.

“The potential demand for electricity is maybe twice as much as we are producing now,” Chowdhury said in an interview in Dhaka yesterday. “It’s not just trying to meet today’s gap; it’s trying to stay ahead of the curve, which is going to be very difficult.” . .

The fund will invest in the equity and debt of coal, oil and gas companies as well as power projects along with companies, he said. The government is still working on the structure of the fund, including how it will be securitized and whether it will be traded, he said.
From Australia:
The Federal Government has put Waratah Coal’s proposed $7.5 billion ‘China First’ coal project in the fast-lane, yesterday granting it Major Project Facilitation (MPF) status.

According to the company’s chief executive Peter Lynch, MPF status will the give the central Queensland development access to a more a timely and efficient approvals process.

Waratah, owned by billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer, is planning to build a thermal coal mine near Alpha, in the Galilee Basin.
The lesson from these vignettes? The world needs more energy. Much more. Reducing emissions is the wrong focus, the expansion of carbon free energy is more appropriate. But until the costs of alternatives are lower than fossil fuels then news stories like the above will continue to appear around the clock and around the world.