With Russian gas gone, coal makes EU comeback as ‘traditional fuel’

(EurActiv, 26 Jan 2023) Coal demand in Europe went up for the second consecutive year in 2022, led by “strong growth” in electricity generation, where it has partly replaced gas as a backup power source, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Once eclipsed by cheaper and less-polluting Russian gas, coal is making a comeback in Europe to supply electricity when carbon-free sources like nuclear and renewables aren’t available.

And with gas prices expected to remain volatile for some time, the winds are blowing more favourably for European coal power generators, an IEA official said on Monday (23 January).

“In our forecast, despite the recent decline in gas prices, until 2025, coal is still more competitive than gas,” said Carlos Fernández Alvarez, who heads the IEA’s division on gas, coal and power markets.

Growing demand for coal was driven chiefly by the war in Ukraine and the need to reduce gas consumption following Russia’s decision to diminish supplies to Europe, according to the IEA’s 2022 coal report, published in December.

Alvarez said that the demand for coal in Europe was also pushed up by the decline in nuclear power generation coming from France, Germany, and Belgium.

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EurActiv, 26 Jan 2023: With Russian gas gone, coal makes EU comeback as ‘traditional fuel’