Coal plants shutting down around world – incl. all 4 of Beijing’s big plants, China seeks get-out from tar sands, climate denial is immoral says US church leader as divestment pressure grows: Week 13, 2015

US to submit Paris plans before month end, others delay. China, India, Russia, Brazil, Canada and Australia say they are waiting until closer to a Paris summit.
US oil independents raise record amount from share sales. Small and midsize companies have sold $10.8bn of equity, with this quarter a record.
Shell hopes to produce 400,000 bd from the Arctic Chukchi Sea. New exploration is about to get underway, aiming for half current North Sea total production.
Norway delivers climate pledge to UN: 40% by 2030. They will also target carbon neutrality by 2050, including emissions cuts abroad, and have a climate law by 2017.
United Reformed Church of Scotland divests from fossil fuels. Representing 1,472 churches, the vote is overwhelming.
Analysts widely divergent on which way the oil price will go. In the face of events in US shale, Yemen, Libya & Iran, all they can agree on is disagreement. Brent is $58 today.
Lessons from market turmoil: Raise the “risk premium” for fossil fuels. So say Carbon Tracker analysts in latest study.
Rockefeller family begged Exxon to give up funding climate denial a decade ago. Their multiple efforts raise the question of how effective engagement is, versus divestment.
German energy minister majors on jobs benefits of renewables. The national renewables industries employ 370,000: ten times more than nuclear at its peak.
UK GHG emissions fell >8% in 2014, renewables rose to 19% of electricity. So UK government figures show. High temperatures played a role in emissions drop.
Saudi Arabia is drawing down FX reserves to cover its deficit. So data from the central bank indicates. Net foreign assets fell 1.4% year on year for February.
UK and Norway agree €2bn cable deal. The 1.4 GW (750,000 home) link will Is expected to be complete in 2021. A 1GW Belgian cable will be ready 2019.
Antarctic ice melting faster than previously thought. 18 years of satellite data show shelves losing 310 cubic km km per year, speeding major collapse.
Petrochina looks for way out of tar sands. They are “actively engaged” in talks aiming “swap” assets elsewhere with international oil companies.
California utility scale solar jumps from 1.9% to 5% in a year. So EIA data for 2014 show: more than all other states combined. Renewables are c. a third of all California electricity.
Low oil price is slowing solar replacement of diesel in mines. Fewer than 12 mines in the world are >50% wind and solar powered, mostly in Chile.
Two camps are appearing in Chinese solar stocks. Profitable, including big names Canadian and Trina. Unprofitable $1-2 stocks: Yingli, Renesola, et al. Expect consolidation.
Green Climate Fund urged to ban coal funding. This after AP found Japan was channeling funds for coal projects in India and Bangladesh, labelling them climate friendly.
“The coal industry is imploding. Why is it still so powerful in Washington?” Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, funded by Peabody Coal, leads the backlash.
BP has withdrawn support to Alec, “but appearances can be deceptive”. “Oil, gas and coal companies remain firmly behind climate disinformation campaigns.”
Setback for UK shale oil fracking. Former UK Environment Agency chief Chris Smith says he is “hugely sceptical”, and shale gas is a much easier case to make, environmentally.
Advisory group on fracking asks government for a single new regulator. The group, funded by UK fracking companies, professes that existing regulation is too complex.
UK Environment Secretary rejects pension divestment from fossil fuels. Liz Truss declines, so too does Labour shadow Caroline Flint. Ed Davey supports for coal only.
US oil in storage rises for 11th week running. 466 million barrels are now stored, the EIA says. Stockpiles are >25% above their 5 year average.
Petrobras scandal is knocking back rest of Brazilian oil industry. Investing in the pre-salt makes little sense at $45 breakeven, and plus corruption, service companies suffer.
Trader/s buy oil call options targeting >$100 oil in 2018. Interest at this level rises to 2.7 mb equivalent. WTI is around $64 today, with the biggest short in history.
World Bank study shows the time for the renewable grid is now. With the right policies and investments, variability no longer compromises reliability or affordability.
SunEdison to use 1,000 flow batteries for minigrids in India. They will hook them to solar for telecom towers to reach 20 million in 5,000 villages.
“Industry in turmoil: coal plants shutting down around the world.” Mass redundancy notices going out, Power magazine reports.
Beijing to shut all its major coal plants. The last of its four closes in 2016. They will be replaced by gas plants. >2,000 smaller coal mines will close by end 2015.
US coal sector structural decline foreshadows oil and gas pain. Carbon Tracker reports at least 264 mines closed 2011-2013 while 76% of value lost.
Solar energy ‘could provide 4% of UK electricity by 2020’: UK government. But solar installation rate will drop 80% once the subsidies are cut end March.
HSBC: green bonds to hit $100bn as investors begin to take renewables seriously. This tripling will mostly be driven by China.
Climate denial is immoral, says head of US Episcopal church. Katharine Jefferts Schori is the highest ranking Anglican. Deniers reject God’s gift of knowledge she says.
Christiana Figueres calls on alma mater Swarthmore to divest. She supports protesting students with a letter to the Pennsylvania college.
If US runs out of storage, oil price could fall below $20. Bloomberg Intelligence says that the numbers suggest the problem should be taken seriously.
“One day I expect the punchbowl will be taken away.” So says an investor of US shale. We want companies who put $1 in and get $2 out, not the other way round.
Scientists map slowdown of ocean circulation with global warming. Consequences are potentially dire, the Potsdam Institute-led team say.
Fast-falling cost of batteries boosts prospects for EVs. Costs have fallen from $1000 per kWh in 2007 to $300 in best cases today. They are competitive with ICE at $150.