Europe turning off coal: report

COAL generation was overtaken by wind and solar for the first time in five key European markets last year as Germany prepares to phase out coal generation over the next 20 years.
Europe turning off coal: report  Europe turning off coal: report  Europe turning off coal: report  Europe turning off coal: report  Europe turning off coal: report
Germany is Europe's largest coal consumer.
 
The combined share of wind and solar in Europe's largest electricity markets - Germany, France, Italy, Iberia (Spain and Portugal) and the UK - increased marginally to 17%, lifting it above coal for the first time in 2018, according to the Wood Mackenzie report European power supply: 2018 in review.
 
Wood Mackenzie power & renewables research director Peter Osbaldstone said an end to the drought conditions in Europe that defined 2017 prompted a recovery in hydro generation.
 
"This uplift in renewables squeezed out supply from coal and gas - both down 9% - in every market except the UK.  
 
"Although the UK's renewable share reached an all-time high, nuclear outages - such as that at Hunterston B - highlighted the market's reliance on gas (+1%) and imports (+29%)." 
 
Wood Mackenzie power & renewables data associate Matthew Campbell said coal-fired power supply in Germany fell in 2018, as higher volumes of wind and solar continued to constrain market space for fossil fuel. 
 
"While production from low-cost, indigenously produced lignite remained almost flat, generation from hard coal dropped to a new low in the market," he said. 
 
"Coal's overall share of power supply in Germany has fallen from 42% to 35% in the past three years."  
 
Economist Intelligence Unit energy lead analyst Peter Kiernan said Germany's coal exit commission proposed to phase out coal use for power generation by 2038, a longer term goal that reflected the compromise that the commission sought between meeting climate objectives and managing the economic transition resulting from eliminating coal use. 
 
"It is possible, however, that coal could be phased out a few years sooner as the timeline will be periodically assessed, while market conditions for coal-fired power in Europe will remain tough going forward," he said.
 
"Indeed coal use in Western Europe is falling away, especially in the UK. 
 
"Currently, Germany relies on coal for around 38% of its net power supply, and although this share has been falling gradually for several years, the country's claim of climate leadership, based on its promotion of renewables, has been undermined by its heavy reliance on this carbon intensive fuel. 
 
"Yet the signal that Germany, the largest coal consumer in Europe, will now embark on a coal phase-out plan will be of significant symbolic importance, which is opportune at a time when global progress to lower emissions appears to be stalling."