KEPCO cancels Thabametsi coal (but might convert to fossil gas)

South Korea's KEPCO – the investor in the coal IPP Thabametsi – said last night for the first time it will not invest in overseas coal projects any longer, and added Sual 2 in the Philippines and Thabametsi in South Africa will either be canceled or transitioned to gas. 

When CO2 emissions and methane leaks are considered, gas has significant global warming potential. Some notes on that below. I am not yet sure about the cost and practicalities of getting gas to Lephalale.

More info on KEPCO is attached. The state-owned utility has faced a lot of criticism following its recent approval on the Vung Ang 2 and Jawa 9 & 10 projects, respectively in Vietnam and Indonesia. 

Gas global warming potential:

This LNG report by Global Energy Monitor has a one-pager on this:

Depending on the assumptions about methane leakage rates, the relative efficiencies of the coal-fired and gas-fired power plants being compared, and the period over which warming is being measured, the global warming impact of building a new gas plant instead of a new coal plant, assuming the gas plant is supplied by LNG, can range from 29% lower to 16% higher


NRDC recently reported about methane leaks, to make the point: "Just because something is better than something else doesn’t necessarily make it good." 


And here, Colorado State University scientists cite their own direct measurements of 700 gas chain facility methane leaks. The research suggests that fugitive methane emissions from US gas operations are 60% higher than US EPA estimates. (I think these are the same findings reported by Environmental Defense Fund and Desmog)


And a recent PNAS paper (covered in NYT with an amazing video) "Satellite observations reveal extreme methane leakage from a natural gas well blowout":

…we find the total methane emission from the well blowout is comparable to one-quarter of the entire state of Ohio’s reported annual oil and natural gas methane emission, or, alternatively, a substantial fraction of the annual anthropogenic methane emissions from several European countries.

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