13 October 2017

Netherlands, Canada and the UK lead the phase-out of the coal era

This last week has seen three country announcements for major plans to phase out energy generation facilities fuelled by coal, with Netherlands announcing the decommissioning of all coal power plants by 2030 and UK and Canada announcing they will champion a global alliance on the transition from coal during the upcoming COP23.

On October 11, the Dutch Government introduced a legislation making it a legal obligation to shut down all coal-fired plants in the country by 2030.

The news will come as a surprise to Engie, RWE, and Uniper that commissioned three coal plants in the country in 2015.

Gerard Wynn, Analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) said: “The impairments reflect the impact of massive growth in renewable power in neighboring Germany, which has depressed wholesale power prices, and the utilities having failed to foresee flat or falling electricity demand”.

He also noted the associated risks in investing in new or existing coal-fired plants in Europe, with more and more countries getting away from coal.

He added: “This, combined with the rise of renewables and the impact on demand of improved efficiency, puts old electricity production models at risk”.

The same day, 11 October, following a meeting between Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna, and the UK’s Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry Claire Perry, Canada and the UK announced that they would champion a global alliance on the transition from coal at next month’s UNFCCC 23rd Meeting of Parties in Bonn, Germany.

The joint statement said: “At COP23 in Bonn we openly invite others who share our ambition to join us”.

“Phasing unabated coal power out of the energy mix and replacing it with cleaner technologies will significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, improve the health of our communities, and benefit generations to come”.

“We are doing our part, but we recognise the need to accelerate the international transition from burning coal to using cleaner power sources”.

“Today, we announce that Canada and the UK will champion a global alliance on the transition from unabated coal-fired electricity”.

However, the choice of the world ‘unabated’ means that the power plants which do use Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies may be excluded from the phase-out.

The initiative will officially launch during COP23, where more details are expected to be announced, along with state-members that are willing to join. 

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