🏭 European coal power output in steep decline

🏭 European coal power output in steep decline

The European Union has seen an unprecedented ​19% year-on-year decline​ in coal-fired power generation in the first half of 2019.

Mathias Sundin
Mathias Sundin

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Electricity production from coal is on track to fall by around 3 percent globally in 2019 – the largest drop on record.

But that is nothing compared to coal power in the EU, down 19 percent year-on-year.

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

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

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.

Other factors include the expansion of wind and solar power, energy efficiency measures, and the availability of gas power capacity to replace coal.

Elsewhere, the study noted a flattening of coal growth in China and “a sharp turnaround in India, where coal power output is on track to fall for the first time in at least three decades”.

The reasons for drop vary from country to country but include increased electricity generation from renewables, nuclear and gas, as well as slowing or negative power demand growth.

In North America, about 60% of the fall in coal came from switching to gas, as coal plants closed and new gas plants opened.