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Coal power plants produced less electricity this winter despite the energy crunch in Europe, a climate think tank has reported.
According to Ember, quoted by the FT, coal power plants in Europe produced 27 fewer terawatt-hours between October 2022 and March 2023 than the same period of 2021/22. 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.
“For a lot of people this winter was really hard with prices that were extraordinarily high and we shouldn’t lose sight of that,” Ember analyst Harriet Fox told the FT.
“But we can’t rely on next winter playing out in exactly the same way and Europe needs to take action now — including continuing to push energy efficiency measure and accelerating the roll out of renewables,” Fox added.
Yet Europe remains a large coal importer, import data has revealed. Indeed, coal imports into the European Union rose in 2022 and continued to rise during the first quarter of the year, according to data from shipbroker Banchero Costa, as cited by Hellenic Shipping News.
The company noted that the European Union has become the fifth-largest importer of coal globally, after China, India, Japan, and South Korea. Last year, total coal imports into the EU jumped by an impressive 33.8%, which followed a no less remarkable coal import increase of 30.1% for the previous year, too.
Germany, for one, has increased its coal use in recent days after the closure of its last three nuclear power plants. Per data from Electricity Maps, coal accounted for the second-largest share of power generation in Germany over the past 30 days. Today, coal was the biggest contributor to Germany’s grid.
According to Ember, however, the energy crisis has opened Europeans’ eyes for the importance of low-carbon energy.
“People will look back to 2022 and 2023 and see it as the time that renewables really started to fly,” Harriet Fox told the FT. “Governments are waking up to the fact that we can’t rely on fossil fuels, and renewables can form the majority of our energy system.”
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.