Some EU members turn back to coal to cut reliance on Russian gas

(Climate Home News, 17 Mar 2022) Several EU countries have put their coal phase-out plans on hold as to continue would mean relying on natural gas imports from Russia. Instead of investments in gas infrastructure, renewables or other alternatives, the extension of coal mining is considered the quickest and most viable solution.

“There is a temporary role for coal, which we had hoped would be out of the energy mix by the end of this decade. But it will stay longer. We will need it until we find alternative sources. Until that time, even the greenest government will not phase out coal,” Václav Bartuška, the Czech government’s energy security commissioner told news site Seznam Zprávy.

The Czech Republic based its decarbonisation strategy on natural gas as a transitional source, but with dependency on Russian gas at 90%, these plans are gone. As learned, several Czech companies have already decided to switch from gas back to coal.

In Bulgaria, ambitious plans to build a large gas power plant – a project included in the national recovery plan – are also off the table. The country is ready to keep its coal industry till the construction of a minimum of two new nuclear reactors.

In a recent interview for the BBC, the EU green deal commissioner Frans Timmermans noted that countries could stay longer with coal if they immediately move to renewables instead of gas. “It could still be within the parameters we set for our climate policy,” he said.

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Climate Home News, 17 Mar 2022: Some EU members turn back to coal to cut reliance on Russian gas