Spain and Germany at the lead in coal to gas transition for power generation in Europe


The European Union’s power market has significantly drifted away from coal, mainly in the interest of gas, according to EnAppSys energy consultant’s 3Q report.

The researcher stated that coal and lignite power stations produced 95.8 TWh over the past three months until late September. On the contrary, gas-fired power plants contributed 134.6 TWh to Europe’s power supply during the same period, nearly 41% more than coal.

These figures mark a pretty significant shift in the market. In this sense, coal generated 31% more than gas in the third quarter of 2018. It also generated more in the same period of 2017.

AnAppSys highlights the Spanish case

The shift is mostly due to a new market dynamic in Spain and Germany, AnAppSys said. The firm indicated that coal had been almost entirely replaced by gas in the Spanish market.

Meanwhile, Germany, traditionally a great coal and lignite consumer, has been turning its back on this fuel.

Decreasing coal generation has been mostly facilitated by the expanded capacity of gas plants, while renewable power generation stood at 35% in the third quarter.

A significant change

“Generally there has been a significant shift in Europe from coal/ lignite generation to gas-fired generation, although the picture varies depending on individual countries where the degree of change depends on the ability to switch from one power source to the other," according to Jean-Paul Harreman, director of EnAppSys.

The executive added that the Czech Republic, for instance, has been less efficient in its shift to other power sources. However, the fact that gas is covering for an important

“Overall, nuclear was the dominant power source in Europe in the three months to the end of September 2019, providing 28.7% of total generation,” the EnAppSys report said. “Gas-fired plants provided 20.5%, coal/lignite 14.6%, hydro 14.3%, wind 11.1%, solar 6.0% and biomass 3.4%. Oil (0.7%), waste (0.6%) and peat (0.2%) made up the remainder.”

Less CO2 but more methane

Natural gas plants produce less carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour than coal and lignite plants. Nonetheless, a recent report warned that gas plants issue large amounts of methane, a GHG that is considerably more powerful.

Last week, a new team of commissioners assessed by the president-elect of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen attended parliamentary hearings in Brussels.

Estonian politician Kadri Simson, the new EU energy commissioner, said additional investments on LNG pipes and terminals will be key for the clean energy transition.

She added that gas is the cheapest alternative to replacing coal power stations.

Simson supports the 2050 carbon neutrality goal. She also promised to present a Green New Deal within the first 100 days of leading the commission.

Aiming for carbon-neutrality while investing in gas is like saying you're planning to quit smoking by switching cigarette brands,” EU climate & energy policy director Tara Connolly told Greenpeace.

For more information, check Energía16

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