The European Commission’s “Clean Energy for All Europeans” package of proposals is an important step towards a properly functioning internal market for electricity, this being an objective that EURACOAL fully supports. However, the good progress made to date might be jeopardised if capacity mechanisms are subject to an emission performance standard.
The proposal is diametrically opposite to the EU’s objective of creating a competitive, technology-neutral, non-discriminatory internal electricity market.
It would favour investment in expensive, new gas-fired power stations to replace the existing coal stations that already balance renewables and ensure reliable power.
With more expensive, imported gas, electricity supply would become more expensive and less secure.
The electricity sector would be subject to a pointless double regulation, without actually reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions: the sector’s emissions are already capped by the cost-efficient EU emissions trading system (ETS) to meet politically agreed targets.
EU member states would lose their sovereign right to determine their own energy mixes (Art.194 TFEU).
The European Commission’s proposal to deny access to capacity markets by setting an emission performance standard of 550 gCO2/kWh should be rejected.
Read EURACOAL’s position here and refer also to the similar positions of EURELECTRIC, representing power utilities, ENTSO-E, representing transmission system operators, CEER, representing regulators, EFET, representing energy traders, and BusinessEurope.
The Prime Minister of Poland, Ms. Beata Szydło, opened the International Mining Fair with a positive message on coal. In her address, she stated that Poland wants a power sector based on a secure energy mix, with special places for hard coal and lignite. By 2050, Poland plans to diminish its coal dependency to 50% on the assumption that a new nuclear power plant will be built. Vice Minister for Energy, Mr. Grzegorz Tobiszowski, said that with the investments now being made in new equipment, the coal mining sector will be able to make a real contribution to the Polish economy.
EURACOAL President, Dr. Cieslik, spoke at the fair’s press conference on why the modernisation of coal-fired power plants was a more secure and efficient way to meet climate targets than switching to imported gas. Relying on renewables alone was not yet an option, he said. In Germany, after the nuclear phase out and a reduction in coal/lignite generation, there would be a 200 TWh annual shortfall that must be filled.
At a related conference on coal, organised by the Polish Mining Chamber of Commerce and Industry in co-operation with EURACOAL, the main message was on building a COALition of perhaps ten EU Member States that see a role for secure and affordable coal in the “energy transition”. At its core would be those Member States that voted against adoption of the revised LCP BREF conclusions: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. Greece and Slovenia were also seen as possible allies.
Prof. Prusek of the Central Mining Institute (GIG) declared a new focus on mining and combustion technologies in order to reduce the environmental impacts of coal use. Alternative uses of coal are also the subject of active research with ongoing projects around Europe in the fields of coal gasification and hydrogenation. EURACOAL itself is working to establish a new network for European clean coal technologists engaged in globally competitive coal research (CoalTech2051).
For over a quarter of a century, climate science has been widely debated, with a range of views expressed on the role that carbon dioxide (CO2) plays in climate change. Here, two prominent scientists present their views not only on climate science, but also on energy supply and global politics: one at the Vatican and the other at a EURACOAL-hosted dinner debate in the European Parliament.
Climate science advisor to the Pope and the German Chancellor, Prof. Hans Joachim (John) Schellnhuber, argues that the Earth is like a patient suffering from a fever. If this fever can be managed below a temperature rise of 2°C – his so-called “planetary guardrail” – then humanity might survive.
For Prof. Schellnhuber, the science is clear: an overwhelming body of evidence shows that global warming is driven by greenhouse-gas emissions which are the result of burning fossil fuels, creating intolerable risks. Any delay to mitigation measures may jeopardise climate stability – Prof. Schellnhuber’s “tipping points” of unstable jet streams, major methane releases, erratic El Niño events, disintegrating ice sheets and social disruption.
On 18 June 2015 at the Vatican, with a mix of science and politics, he explained his thinking not only on extreme climate change, but also on the gross inequity of global wealth distribution; wealth that was largely created by the “carbon powers”, beginning with the UK and Europe, followed by the US and more recently by China. This 20-minute amateur video of his presentation offers a concise summary of his position. Background papers were published by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Holy See Press Office, based on a paper by Prof. Schellnhuber published in 2014 by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
Greenpeace founder and environmental scientist, Dr. Patrick Moore, denies claims that CO2 is a pollutant and is sceptical that it will cause much warming of the climate. He notes that far from being a harmful greenhouse gas, CO2 is necessary for life on Earth. However, the oceans remove CO2 from the atmosphere by natural absorption; then crustaceans (shellfish) convert it to carbonate minerals, ultimately forming sedimentary rocks such as limestone, chalk and marble in which the CO2 is locked away. He warns that atmospheric CO2 concentrations had fallen over time to dangerously low levels, threatening plant life and hence all life.
Dr. Moore believes that rising CO2 levels are good for life – his “planetary guardrail” being the 180 ppm below which plants die, a level that might have been reached if man had not burnt fossil fuels. On 2 February 2016, Dr. Moore presented his thesis at a dinner debate in the European Parliament, Strasbourg, in front of MEPs, industry representatives and an IPCC scientist who brought balance to the debate. EURACOAL has published a full report of the dinner debate which was held under the Chatham House rule. This 40-minute video is of an earlier, similar presentation given on 14 October 2015 at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London.
Prof. Schellnhuber has a unique understanding of complex, nonlinear systems and chaos theory; his understanding goes far beyond that of ordinary laypeople and experts in particular disciplines. He says that climate change, caused by the tiny CO2 molecule, can trigger sudden, irreversible and large-scale disruptions in the Earth systems, e.g. a sea-level rise of seven metres if the Greenland ice sheet were to melt. He cites a World Bank report that he himself authored on why a 4°C warmer world has to be avoided and so justifies a “master plan” for the planet – namely, his “Great Transformation”.
In the context of climate policy, scientists and moral philosophers, including Prof. Schellnhuber, refer to the climate as “our common good”. He calls for new property rights that give ownership of the atmosphere to humankind through carbon pricing and questions if it is ethical to exploit fossil fuel reserves as private goods for the benefit of a small, privileged group of mankind, generating extreme wealth for a few.