Key messages

Exploiting natural resources creates jobs and adds to economic wealth. Coal is the EU’s most abundant energy resource. In these times of economic recovery, we can look forward to a transition fuelled by coal, not dirty old coal of the past, but with modern clean coal technologies fit for the 21st century and in use today in Europe.

Clean energy: since 1990, coal-related CO2 emissions have decreased by over 70%; the latest coal plants cut CO2 emissions by 30% or more; sulphur dioxide emissions have fallen 80% since 1990 and other pollutant emissions have been massively cut.

Abundant, affordable and available: in the EU, 92% of our non-renewable energy reserves lie in coal beds.

92% of the EU’s energy reserves are in the form of coal and lignite (BGR, 2019)

Competitive energy: without inter-fuel competition from coal, we would be faced with much higher energy prices for industrial and residential electricity.

Base-load power generation: given the intermittency of renewables, coal and other conventional fuels will be needed for many years to come.

Quality jobs and wealth creation: coal is a large and mature industry that employs over one quarter of a million people in well-paid jobs across the greater Europe including the Balkans, Turkey and Ukraine, and many more at the suppliers of equipment and materials.

Most hippodrome
Horse racing at Most hippodrome – the site of a restored brown coal mine in the Czech Republic

Secure energy: in 2020, the EU spent €172 billion on energy imports – 1.3% of GDP – a burden that coal can reduce.

Flexible energy: coal- and gas-fired power plants are equally capable of balancing the intermittent output from wind turbines and solar PV panels.

Sustainable energy: by embracing new technologies, coal and other energy sources have a bright future – all will be needed to meet the forecast growth in demand. Europe’s coal-fired power plants offers a low-cost route to balance the growing share of renewable energy sources during the energy transition.

Germany NeuThe energy supply of the 21st century is more than ever shaped by coal. Almost all emerging economies trust in coal as a safe, reliable, affordable and sustainable basis for their development.

According to estimates of the International Energy Agency (IEA), coal will have the same importance as oil for the world-wide supply of energy until 2030.

On a global scale, coal is No.1 for power generation with substantial potential for further technological development and cost-effective climate protection.

UK 2Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is important for international climate protection policies; it is expected to deliver one fifth of very ambitious GHG reductions by 2050. For CCS to become commercial in the next decades, CCS has to be fully demonstrated in this decade.

NEU HungaryAn efficient and affordable CO2 transport network on European level is needed and the EU should actively promote the creation of a CO2 infrastructure.

Coal utilisation can co-exist with the development of power generation based more and more on renewables. Coal-fired power plants are able to meet the variable feed in of larger quantities of power from renewables flexibly and so cover the gaps in supply.

EURACOAL highlights the following three priorities:

  • the slowdown of investment in coal-fired power plants;
  • a rational EU energy policy that values a diversified energy mix, including a role for coal during the energy transition;
  • the successful demonstration of CCS.