Energy, coal is unsustainable even for the accounts of electricity companies: 79% of European plants lose money

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Farewell to the coal for the generation of electric energy it appears increasingly unstoppable and the recent devaluation for a good 4 billion euros made by It is in the for his stations coal is yet another (powerful) signal. The Italian utility has taken note of the exit process from the most Exhaust of the fossil sources – exit scheduled for 2025 both in Italy and in the Iberian peninsula where Enel is present with Endesa – but also assessed the general deterioration of market conditions. The company explained, in announcing the interruption of production in coal-fired Endesa plants, that the trend in commodity prices and the functioning of the Co2 emissions market have adversely affected the competitiveness of the plants “making remote the possibility of a relative operation in the electricity market in the future”.

This scenario is confirmed by Carbon Tracker: in its most recent analysis on the Power and utilities sector, the think tank has estimated that in the European Union the 79% of the plants electric coal or lignite lose money. Red could amount to a total of 5.79 billion euros in 2019. According to the Carbon Tracker in the EU in 2025 there will no longer be electricity from coal and in 2030 the one from lignite will also disappear.

This does not mean that in ten years our continent will generate electricity only from clean sources, because the primary competitor of coal remains the natural gas, less polluting but still a fossil source. However, coal-fired power plants are no longer sustainable. They would serve substantial subsidies public, whose effectiveness, however, is not at all obvious, as shown by the case of the United States, where not even the incentives of Donald Trump have managed to revitalize an industry at sunset. Furthermore, subsidies involve the use of measures that governments will hardly want to cover, such as increase in debt, new tax or bills of the most expensive electricity for end users.

For Carbon Tracker there is another risk: lawsuits. In Poland, Enea's investment in Ostroleka C, a coal-fired power plant, was blocked by a group of minority shareholders who moved the case claiming that the project posed concrete results risks financial institutions and would have damaged the shareholders. The ruling of first instance arrived in August gives reason to the shareholders for now. "Governments take note," writes Carbon Tracker. The think tank had conducted an analysis of the Ostroleka C project and calculated that it would remain "permanently unprofitable"Without support. The loss of the plant in its life cycle was estimated at 1.7 billion euros.

In Italy, coal-fired power generation currently accounts for a total of 8 GW of installed capacity distributed over eight plants: South Brindisi, Civitavecchia, Sulcis, Fusina (Venice), Bastardo (Perugia) and La Spezia owned by Enel and two others of Ep Production is A2A. According to the national energy plan, in six years these sites will have to be converted to cleaner energy production (renewable or natural gas).

In the European Union they exist beyond 300 power plants coal with prevalence in Germany and in the countries of the East: Poland, Bulgaria, Czech Republic is Romania. Germany and Poland alone account for 51% of the installed capacity in the EU (Eea data updated at the end of 2016). According to the Carbon Tracker, German coal and lignite power plants risk accumulating a total loss of € 9 billion e RWE it is the German utility that will face the greatest losses: 975 million euros (however the date to turn off all coal-fired power plants in Germany is currently set by the government to 2038).

The think tank has also elaborated a "solution" with which governments and utilities can manage the farewell to coal so cheap for consumers, investors and local communities. "Governments can borrow money at lower costs than electricity companies," analysts explain. Accordingly, i governments could finance the closure of coal-fired power plants on the condition that the utilities use the money to build plants that use renewable sources e repay the debt with the sale of electricity. The utilities in turn could hire local workforce to build new power plants and use part of the profits to help the territory in transition. This solution, according to the Carbon Tracker, could be attractive especially for the EU states in the East that still depend heavily on the use of coal (in Poland, for example, it represents 80% of electricity generation) and have lower renewable quotas than those reached by Western countries.

The transition from coal to alternative sources is a global scale trend. It is an unstoppable farewell, although long: even today the 40% of world electricity it is produced with coal and new plants are still born in bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Senegal and South Korea. But on a global scale, especially thanks to disposals in the EU and the USA, the number of new plants under construction continues to decrease (-84% from 2015 to 2018) and the new MW authorized or announced decreased by 59% from January 2016 to January 2018; in 2018 coal-fired plants were closed for 31 GW. The data is contained in the last report of Global Energy Monitor, greenpeace is Sierra Club. The production peak will occur in 2022, the study says, then it will be only a downward curve, because renewables and gas are much cheaper sources.


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