The European Coal Market: Will Coal survive the EC’s Energy and Climate Policy?

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Publication Date October 2012
ISBN 978-2-36567-081-4
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The European coal industry is at a crossroads. The European Commission (EC) Energy Policy by 2020, the 20/20/20 targets, is not favourable to coal:

  • a 20% decrease in CO2 emissions does not favour coal compared with natural gas, its main competitor in electricity generation;
  • a 20% increase in energy efficiency will lead to a decrease in energy/coal consumption;
  • a 20% increase in renewables will displace other energy sources, including coal.

The recent EC Energy Roadmap to 2050 targets a cut in GHG emissions by 80-95%. Under such a tough emissions reduction target, the future use of coal is tied with CCS technologies for which public acceptance and an adequate CO2 price are crucial.

The Large Combustion Plants Directive has already had a huge impact on EU coal-fired electricity generation. In UK, a third of coal-fired power capacity will be closed by the end of 2015 at the latest.

Phase III of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme requires CO2 allowances to be auctioned from January 2013, adding a new burden on fossil fuel power plants.

The end of state aid to European hard coal production by 2018, in line with EC Council Decision 2010/787/EU, means that domestic production is going to decrease.

Does this mean the end of coal in Europe? Maybe not, and certainly not by 2020, although its future after that date is quite uncertain.

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