Hello Power Up Readers! Australia’s ambitions to mine green metals rather than fossil fuels risk being derailed by the meltdown in prices for battery materials such as lithium and nickel. Will the green mining boom turn to bust?
It’s not just battery metals that have been taking a battering. So too has the clean technology stock sector but there are those who think it’s time for a recharge. Also, India leans on coal to avoid spring power cuts, the Czech government doubles down on nuclear and just how do you keep track of emissions in China, the world’s largest polluter?
Australia’s Battery Metals Producers Hit by Price Slump
IGO Suspends Work at Cosmos Nickel Mine
It’s been a brutal time for lithium, nickel and cobalt markets. Prices have crashed with electric vehicle battery demand growth stuttering just as supply ramps up.
Battery metals offer Australia a way of reducing its export dependence on coal and gas and boosting its green credentials. Investment has poured into expanding capacity to produce lithium and nickel and other metallic inputs for electric vehicles.
But there’s more fear than greed in the sector right now as prices plummet. The latest casualty is Aussie miner IGO, which has trimmed its lithium production guidance and is placing its Cosmos nickel mine on care and maintenance. Breakingviews columnist Anthony Currie looks at how Australia’s battery metals boom risks turning to bust.
European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis. REUTERS/Jason Xue.
The United States and the European Union failed again to reach a trade deal on critical minerals at this week’s bilateral talks in Washington. As David Lawder reports, the Europeans still have “outstanding issues” with the Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act, which links electric vehicle subsidies to the sourcing of batteries and their mineral inputs. More talks are planned as both sides look for a comprehensive agreement to help reduce their reliance on supply chains dominated by China.
Are Battered Clean Energy Stocks Due For a Recharge?
Record Outflows From Clean Tech Sector
An aerial view shows a solar farm near Melksham in southwest Britain. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Clean energy stocks have taken a battering against a backdrop of high interest rates and project delays in both solar and wind power sectors. The iShares Global Clean Energy ETF, one of the world’s top renewables equity funds, has lost one-third of its value over the last year, whereas global stocks are up 16%. But as Danilo Masoni examines in this in-depth analysis, there are glimmers of hope that the renewables sector may be due a recharge, particularly if interest rates start falling.
India Builds Coal Stocks to Keep the Lights On
Huge Renewables Deployment Helps Relieve the Pressure
Indian generators are currently storing 38 million tonnes of coal on site, up from 33 million tonnes at the same point in 2023 and 25 million tonnes in 2022. Photo by REUTERS/Amit Dave
India’s power supply at the start of this year looks a lot more comfortable than in either 2023 or 2022 thanks to a build-up of coal stocks. As Senior Market Analyst John Kemp writes in this column, coal is still crucial to the country’s grid system heading into the second quarter, when power supplies tend to be most stretched.
India is also building out huge renewable energy capacity which relieves some of the power pressure, particularly in the summer monsoon season. But coal is still king, as Sudarshan Varadhan reports from New Delhi, and higher stocks should mitigate against any repeat of past years’ spring power cuts.
Czech Government Seeks Bids for Four Nuclear Plants
State-owned Utility CEZ in the Spotlight
The Czech government is seeking binding bids to build up to four nuclear power plant units instead of one, widening a long-running tender aimed at keeping nuclear power a big part of the country’s energy mix in the coming decades.
As Jan Lopatka and Jason Hovet report from Prague, the country needs more nuclear capacity to replace older units and meet rising power consumption even as it tries to pivot away from coal generators. The government is also looking at ways to restructure state-owned utility CEZ as it considers how to finance its nuclear build-out.
Quote of the Day
“I will not now give specific targets or deadlines on this.”
European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis, suggesting there is still a way to go before the European Union gets a critical minerals deal with the United States
How to Track China’s Emissions
Emissions at New High in 2023
China’s power generation emissions are rising. Here’s the breakdown by source courtesy of Gavin Maguire, Reuters Global Energy Transition columnist.
China’s emissions from electricity generation jumped nearly 6% to new highs in 2023, underlining the country’s status as the world’s largest polluter. Tracking China’s emissions is crucial to understanding how much progress it is making towards its climate goals. But it’s easier said than done, given the size and complexity of China’s economy and power systems. Gavin Maguire, Reuters Global Energy Transition columnist, runs through the key indicators to keep an eye on.
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