Think-tank Says Coal Use in EU Dropped This Winter


Coal power plants produced less electricity this winter despite the energy crunch in Europe, a climate think-tank said in a study.

According to Ember coal generation dipped by 27 TWh (terawatt-hour), or almost 11%, compared to the same period 12 months before.

This came largely due to emergency EU legislation, which set a voluntary electricity demand reduction target for member states over the winter to cope with reduced supply. Analysis shows that most member states met the 5% energy consumption reduction target set out. As a result, total EU electricity demand fell by an estimated 6% on the five-year average between November 2022 and March this year, saving EUR 12 billion (USD 13.2 billion) worth of electricity.

Warmer weather and soaring energy prices also resulted in a dip in overall demand, the report says. Gas generation also declined, the think-tank said, adding that the reason for the decline was lower electricity consumption overall in response to higher prices.

Of the 18 member states that continue to use coal power, 15 reduced coal generation last winter compared with the same period in 2021. Italy, Finland, and Hungary were the only three to increase coal use.

Germany and Poland saw the steepest reduction in coal use. Outside of the EU, the energy crisis drove the United Kingdom in March to fire up a reserve coal power plant to cope with electricity shortages on the grid.

Renewable generation overtook fossil fuel power in the EU for the first time last winter. In this time, renewables accounted for 40% of electricity generation, compared with 37% from fossil fuels.

Wind and solar generation rose by 18 TWh, or 6%, year-on-year over winter. Nuclear generation also fell significantly, owing largely to issues with damaged reactors in nuclear-heavy France. In November last year, just 30 of 56 EDF rectors in the country were operational due to stress corrosion. 


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