The campaign against Adani’s Carmichael coal mine has now turned to the giant multinational company, General Electric. An international media conference on the weekend called for General Electric to stand by its public commitment not to provide equipment to new coal-fired power stations. The power station in which Adani plans to burn its Australian coal is under construction in India and should be subject to the promise.
In September 2020, General Electric announced that it would exit the ‘new build coal power market’, a move aimed at helping the world meet its targets for reduction of carbon emissions under the Paris Agreement.
However, at a weekend media conference, General Electric was chastised for potentially providing steam turbines to the Indian power plant at Godda that will burn coal from Adani’s Carmichael mine in Australia. The media conference involved community representatives protesting against 15 proposed coal plants in 14 countries, including India, Indonesia, Bosnia-Herzogivina and Kenya. The proposed coal plants would generate up to 12 gigawatts of power. General Electric was urged to come clean about its involvement in these projects.
Sreedhar Ramamurthi, an Indian geologist from the Environics Trust, said that the provision of steam turbines by General Electric for the Adani coal-fired power plant at Godda would violate the company’s public undertaking to exit new coal plants.
‘General Electric must now have the courage and commitment to say NO and they must do it now,’ said Sreedhar.
According to GE's website, the company is supplying turbines to the 1600-MW plant at Godda. Under a section spruiking new projects, GE says:
- India Godda Coal-fired Power Plant: GE and SEPCO3, a subsidiary of PowerChina, booked a contract for the supply of India's Godda-2x800 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant project. GE will provide two 800MW ultra-supercritical steam turbine generators which will be jointly supplied by GE’s ABP factory in Beijing, China and its Sanand factory in India. SEPCO3 will provide construction and equity financing. Located in the Gunda area of Jalang (sic), the plant is developed by Adani Power Co., Ltd. of India under the IPP model. It is India's first ultra-supercritical coal-fired power station project, and GE’s first project with a Chinese EPC in India. When completed, the plant will provide reliable, efficient power to up to four million households in neighboring Bangladesh.
It is clearly an act of gross hypocrisy for General Electric to proudly proclaim a new policy to protect the Earth’s climate by shunning new coal-fired power stations and then to supply turbines and other equipment for plants such as the one being built at Godda.
The Godda coal-fired power station is being built on land seized from indigenous farmers by authorities acting on behalf of Adani. The land ‘acquisition’ involved coercion and underhand tactics described by the ABC, AdaniWatch and other media outlets. Local people, including members of Parliament, have vigorously opposed Adani’s land grab at Godda. A video of women pleading with an Adani official not to confiscate their land went viral in 2018. The land acquisition and environmental approval for the Godda power station have been challenged in the courts.
Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine in Australia has provoked mass demonstrations, blockades, lawsuits and endless controversy due to its predicted impacts on the global climate, the Great Barrier Reef and the rights of the Traditional Owners of the mining lease. Sreedhar described Adani’s plan to ship Australian coal 10,000 km to a power station in India as ‘preposterous’.
Sreedhar said that General Electric had been very ‘clever’ in its annual reports which don’t mention ‘coal’ but instead describe the company’s steam turbines, boilers and generators that are provided to plants that burn coal.
If General Electric helps the Godda power plant – and, therefore the Carmichael coal mine – it is clearly putting its own profits ahead of the Earth’s climate and people.