Rhein on Energy and Climate

“Political pressure on governments and utilities to refrain from building new coal-fired power plants is rising across Europe. Citizens no longer want to have them in their neighbourhood. As a result as many as seven projects have been abandoned in Germany only in the course of 2009, the last most recentlymost recently in Lubmin in a tourism area on the Baltic coastBaltic incoast a tourism area after several years of persistent civil society resistance.

Coal-fired power plants are attractive from a cost-perspective. Coal is abundantly available and cheap; modern energy-efficient coal-fired power plants can easily compete with nuclear power plants. Only gas-fired power plants are more attractive, at least at present very low gas prices.

But coal-fired power plants are big emitters of produce high C02 emissions, and their lifetime reaches 40 years. A plant commissioned today will therefore continue to operate in 2050!

This Building new coal-fired power plants is inconsistent with the EU proclaimed objective of reducing C02 emissions byemissions by at least 80 percent until 2050. The EU will only be able to reach that target if essentially all electricity is produced from non-fossil fossil sources fuels, as about 20 percent of its green house gas emissions are incompressible for technical reasons.

EU governments therefore act irresponsibly by authorising new coal-fired power plants to be built. The EU therefore has no choice but to ban new coal-fired power plants with the exception of those for which authorisation have already been granted.

The EU does not require a major increase of its power capacity does not need to increase in the coming decades:

· Economic growth will slow down to less than one percent per year, due to declining a stagnating active population and saturation of demand.

· The EUThe EU is will rapidly turning into a mature service society with fewwith few heavy energy-intensive industries operating on its territoryits territory.

· Its eEnergy demand is bound to is set to decline due to higher energy efficiency. As of 2020 its energy demand should be at least 10least 10 percent belower than in 20102010 levels.

· The overdue creation of a single electricity marketelectricity market and a trans- European grid allowing electricity to be transmitted from one country to another will lead to a much better utilisation of available capacities. Member states and regions no longer need to strive for “independence of supply”!

· Ageing power capacities should be replaced by wind, biomass nuclear and solar capacities.

The sooner this becomes a firm EU position the easier it will be for the two member states with major coal producing capacity – Poland and Germany – to prepare for the necessary closures their mines and the relocation of the miners.

Member states with plans to expand their capacity of coal- fuelled power plants will object to such restrictions of their policy-making freedom and refer to the carbon cap-trade system as sufficient to bring about the necessary changes.

But the 2013-20 system of carbon cap-trade does not appear sufficiently deterrent to prevent utilities from wishing to invest in more fossil power plants.

The Commission should tackle these issues in 2010 when member states` action programmes for the reduction of their C02 emissions until 2020 manifest possible inconsistencies.

Brussels, 15.12. 09 Eberhard Rhein”

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  1. In this issue we should not think in the point of cost perspective but we should think about our environment and how it affects us.

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