European countries are considering burning more coal as they are racing to find an alternative route to replace Russian gas to survive this winter.
In late May, European Union leaders agreed in principle to cut 90% of oil imports from Russia by the end of 2022 in response to the Kremlin’s action on invading Ukraine in February.
Prior to the supply crunch from the Russian invasion and sanctions, Europe was on pace to phase out coal fuel for clean renewable energy. Many coal-fueled power plants had been shut down in the past years and half of Europe’s coal plants were expected to close by 2030. The European parliament looked to achieve a 45% renewables target by 2030 and zero-emission target by 2035.
“A European energy market in which the price of decarbonised electricity remains dependent on the price of fossil fuels is absurd,” said French economy minister Bruno Le Maire in March. “The more the price of gas soars, the more everyone can see this reality.”
“Their (private sectors who still use coal) support for coal not only could cost the world its climate goals,” UN chief António Guterres said in March. “It’s a stupid investment — leading to billions in stranded assets.”
He added that it was time to end fossil fuel subsidies and stop the expansion of oil and gas exploration.
However, some European countries might shift their plan to stop relying on coal fuel. Germany, Italy, Austria and the Netherlands are among European countries signalling coal-fired power plants could help see them through a crisis that has caused gas prices to surge.
The Netherlands government said on Monday, June 20, that it would remove a cap on production at coal-fired energy plants and will activate the first phase of an energy crisis plan.
Denmark has initiated the first step of an emergency gas plan. Italy is moving closer to declaring a state of alert on energy. Meanwhile, Germany is seeing lower flows through its gas pipe.
Newcastle Coal Futures rose to$392.75/ton on June 20, 2022, though still lower than its record high of $440/ton in March 2022, it is still considerably a high level for the commodity that was once widely expected to die down.
Meanwhile, Dutch TTF Gas for July 2022 last traded at EUR 124.50, up 3.13% from yesterday and 49% for the month.