Marubeni’s shock exit from coal

by Michael West | Sep 16, 2018 | Energy & Environment

Japanese energy juggernaut, Marubeni Corp, is getting out of coal and dramatically accelerating its shift into renewable energy.

It is a move, assuming the story in the Nikkei is true, which will send shockwaves around the energy world and is further confirmation that renewable energy is not only far cleaner than thermal coal but also that it is more economic.

The Nikkei has just published an exclusive story (paywalled) saying Marubeni will:

  • Withdraw from the development of coal-fired power plants;
  • Halve its ownership of coal-fired power plants already held by 2030;
  • Is moving to sell existing coal power plant proposals it has under development; and
  • Accelerate its’ shift to renewable energy project development.

Marubeni’s surprise decision shows industry leaders increasingly envisage coal plants and coal mines as “stranded assets” and it demonstrates how the opinions of Australia’s hard-right coal proponents have rapidly become “stranded opinions”.

The proposal to use taxpayers’ money to build coal-fired power plants in Australia will have now become even more fanciful as a result of the Marubeni decision.

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Analyst Tim Buckley from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) described the move as a “body-blow” to the global coal lobby and a vital endorsement of the Paris climate agreement.

“As one of the largest new coal fired power plant developers globally, this announcement by Marubeni (assuming it is true), is of global significance.

“Like the halving of renewable energy tariffs in India in 2017, the news that Marubeni Corp is shifting its global weight behind the transition to renewables is a body-blow to the global coal industry and a profoundly important endorsement of the aims of the Paris Climate Agreement.

“IEEFA congratulates President Fumiya Kokubu for this truly amazing strategic shift. It is inevitable that other global coal plant developers like POSCO of South Korea, Siemens of Germany and GE of America will be forced to evaluate their own position in light of Marubeni’s decision.”

As per IEEFA’s July 2018 report, Marubeni Corp has over 12GW of new coal fired power plants under development globally, covering both Japan and emerging new coal frontiers like Botswana, Egypt, Mongolia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Myanmar.

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Michael West established Michael West Media in 2016 to focus on journalism of high public interest, particularly the rising power of corporations over democracy. West was formerly a journalist and editor with Fairfax newspapers, a columnist for News Corp and even, once, a stockbroker.

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