From our team in Beijing

Tianjin explosions latest: Energy, industrial processes shuttered, tankers wait outside port

China’s energy watchdog on Saturday demanded safety checks on facilities and systems that involve dangerous chemicals or explosives following the deadly Tianjin blasts.

Facilities involved include hydrogen generation stations, ammonia producing systems, fuel tanks, warehouses storing volatile chemicals and explosives and coal pulverizing and natural gas systems, according to a notice issued by the National Energy Administration.

Companies producing such volatile chemicals were ordered to stop their business until Sept 6, during which time Beijing will host the World Athletic Championships and a military parade marking the end of World War II.Beijing will also conduct a more comprehensive inspection of the security of the production and storage of dangerous chemicals. Companies failing to meet the standard will be shut down immediately.

The news comes amidst reports that about 113 vessels, including 11 tankers, are anchored in the sea off Tianjin port in northern China – close to the capital of Beijing.

170GW of coal power (a huge amount) may do little, nothing this year, air pollution deaths mount

China is likely to see some 96-170 GW of coal-fired power capacity being idled this year, as slowing power demand would make it unable to absorb growing capacity, which may exceed 960 GW by the end of the year.

For more on this – and how it is effectively blocking access to the grid for China’s renewables – see our briefing here.

The news comes as a new study suggests air pollution – largely from coal burning – is killing more than 4,000 people a day and is also being exported to the US West Coast.

Top stories

Coal troubles: Goldman ends interest, Glencore faces downturn, Japan new coal plant

Not a great few days for the global coal sector. Goldman Sachs Group closed a near 35-year era of investments in commodity assets such as power plants and refineries with the sale of a Colombian coal mine.

The world’s biggest coal player Glencore, meanwhile is set to reveal what the Sunday Times describes as “calamitous” fall in profits. Coal prices have fallen 50% since 2012.The low prices make new coal plants appealing leading to a ministerial row in Japan over plans for a new 1.2GW plant which the environment ministry is trying to block.

Oil troubles: North sea job losses, Rosneft puts project on back burner

The Telegraph reports that devastation wrought by the oil price crash on Britain’s North Sea industry is set to be laid bare when one of the region’s biggest contractors reveals that it has cut 4,000 jobs since the start of the year.

The news comes as the FT claims Rosneft is to shift its focus to increasing production at existing oilfields, its chief executive has said — in a tacit admission that weak oil prices and economic sanctions are thwarting ambitious plans for new projects.

All of this leads Nick Butler (FT) to ask if it isn’t time Saudi Arabia gave up on it’s strategy of flooding the world with oil in the hope of bankrupting it’s (shale) competitors.

It may want to hold out a little longer though if Politico is right that US President Barak Obama is waging a ‘quiet war on oil’  with with plans to curb greenhouse gas pollution from rigs and refineries, tighten oversight of drilling on public lands and impose a strict ozone limit that industry lobbyists slam as “the most expensive regulation ever.”

Solar troubles: China solar hit, US solar shares fall as installations continue to boom

Lots of things are going wrong in China right now and the solar industry is one of them.The industry is suffering from over-capacity, razor thin profits and a failure to innovate reports The Ecologist reports. The same can be said for solar in the US where stock prices are falling fast on fears that the low oil price (see above) could hit the sector.

That said the boom in solar installations – as opposed to the companies that make them – continues apace. Wind and solar power capacity in Europe’s five biggest power markets grew by around 8 GW in the first half of 2015 with German wind and UK solar registering the biggest gains, data from Platts Renewable Power Tracker shows.

And in India the ministry of new and renewable energy has boosted it’s solar targets to 100 GW by 2022. The original target under the mission was 22 GW by 2022. 100 GW capacity will include 40 GW rooftop solar power capacity and 57 GW utility-scale solar power projects; India had an operational solar power capacity of around 3 GW when the upgraded mission targets were announced earlier this year.

In other news

Obama Arctic: Melting of frozen north ringing climate ‘alarm bells’

BP gas rigging; We didn’t do it, says oil giant 

Clever tech: Swedish app promises lower energy bills