European coal power output sees ‘unprecedented’ decline

(EurActiv, 25 Nov 2019) Electricity production from coal is on track to fall by around 3% globally in 2019 – the largest drop on record – with Western European countries leading the charge, according to fresh data published on Monday (25 November).

The European Union has seen an “unprecedented” ​19% year-on-year decline​ in coal-fired power generation in the first half of 2019, according to data published by Carbon Brief, a climate analysis and news website.

Western European countries are leading the charge, with coal use falling 22% year-on-year in Germany, and up to 79% in Ireland.

Coal represented less than 2% of the electricity mix in Ireland, France and ​the UK​, and only 6% in Spain and Italy, across the first half of 2019. In May, the UK even switched off all its coal plants for two weeks, a first since the industrial revolution began.

And the trend is accelerating in the second half of the year to an estimated 23% fall in 2019, according to Carbon Brief.

Half renewables, half gas

In Europe, the fall is primarily attributed to the EU’s carbon cap-and-trade system, the Emissions Trading Scheme. Prices on the EU carbon market have risen from around €5 in 2017 to around €25 per tonne of CO2 emitted in 2019, pushing coal plants to halt production.

“It’s basically down to the EU ETS,” said Simon Evans, deputy editor at Carbon Brief. “That’s the main driver for people not to run their coal plants at full power,” he told EURACTIV.

External link

EurActiv, 25 Nov 2019: European coal power output sees ‘unprecedented’ decline