Energydesk reporter Zachary Davies Boren is in Beijing
It’s me again. The stock markets are a lot calmer today than they have been for a while, but there’s still plenty going on in and around the Chinese financial crisis. We’ve also got exclusive footage of the ruins of Tianjin, and some stuff on the China-Russia energy partnership.
Tianjin: Arrests made, officials accused of power abuses and neglect
The Chinese government is taking action over the abuse, neglect and corruption that led to the huge chemical explosions that killed 139 people in the port city of Tianjin, reports Reuters.
As Energydesk reported last week, warehouses carrying dangerous chemicals (such as sodium cyanide) were in breach of official safety standards — they were too close to residential areas and roads.
Well now heads are rolling; 12 people have been arrested, including the chairman, vice-chairman and three general managers of Tianjin Ruihai International Logistics; a further 11 officials have been accused of dereliction of duty and abuse of power; and the head of the Communist Party’s work safety regulator (incidentally the city’s former vice-mayor) has been fired.
And Toyota is set to restart operations in Tianjin after around 67 workers were hurt and thousands of vehicles were damaged in the blasts, reports Bloomberg.
Black Monday: Coal keeps falling, solar keeps shining, cheap oil changes everything
Following on from yesterday’s financial crisis special, here’s what we’ve learned on this far-less-eventful day for the Chinese stock market.
Bloomberg explains why coal is suffering so badly. It’s pretty simple, there’s way more supply than there is demand — and the trends aren’t promising. Global seaborne supply of coal is set to increase by 1.2% this year while demand will shrink by 2.8%, Deutsche Bank projects.
According to China Daily, the coal-fired province of Shanxi is looking longingly at solar power, and has recently received approval for the development of a huge 1,000MW project in Datong. And the Chinese renewable energy upstart China Merchants New Energy Group has also outlined a plan to get 1 to 3 gigawatts of new solar power every year, reports ECNS.
Now a lot of this is positive PR at a time when Beijing is short of it — note how approval for the Shanxi solar project was given a couple of months ago but is only being touted in the wake of the crash and Tianjin.
At the same time, these things are actually happening which suggests that China sees renewables as a big way out of its current economic hole.
And now onto oil. The Wall Street Journal observes that Chinese oil imports remain healthy, and yet that’s doing nothing to drive up the global price of crude. Lost amidst all the talk of the China meltdown is the impact a historically low oil price will have on petro-economies like Russia and Venezuela. Here the BBC breaks that down.
Meanwhile RTCC gives a good summary of what Black Monday means for the climate.
The rest: Russia and China get closer but gas supply takes longer
The Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli yesterday met with the CEO of Russian gas giant Gazprom as the two countries continued to discuss the terms of a second major energy supply contract, reports Xinhua.
But as progress is made there, the last deal they struck has yet to be fulfilled and it may take even longer than expected, Reuters reports. Gazprom has announced that it will probably start sending gas to China next decade rather than 2019 as was previously agreed; that’s a two year delay.
Meanwhile, a Wall Street Journal op-ed has said the US may be getting all the flack for its Arctic oil operations, but the China-backed Russia plans are way further ahead.
In other non-China news
UK: British Gas has cut the cost of its standard tariff by 5% but it’s still more than £300 more expensive than the cheapest deal on the market, reports The Mirror.
US: Super cheap oil won’t slow down the flourishing US renewables sector, according to an analysis by Mashable. Whilst Reuters reports that German energy company E.ON – which last year split its fossils from its renewables – is looking to expand its wind and solar footprint in America.
Australia: The Department of Environment is taking advice from the US on the impacts of fracking, reports The Guardian. Meanwhile the EIA expects natural gas production from the major US shale regions to decline in the near term.
US: Prominent climate change denier Christopher Horner was on the payroll of recently bankrupt coal company Alpha Natural Resources, The Intercept has discovered.