this is how its use has skyrocketed

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Our attempts to become independent from coal have run into an unexpected enemy: the war in Ukraine and all its consequences in the economic and energy field. Against the backdrop of skyrocketing gas prices and the declared goal of reducing reliance on Russian supplies, European power plants have turned to using the dirtiest fossil fuels.

According to data from Fraunhofer I.S.E. collected by Bloomberglast week, the second since the start of the war in Ukraine, plants on the mainland burned close to 51% more sedimentary rock which just a year ago. From 3,614 GWh in the week of February 9, 2021 we have gone, in this, to 5,468 GWh. The increase coincided with a decline in gas demand.

alternatives to gas

The figure is largely explained by the price of coal, which, although it has risen, remains at more competitive values ​​than gas. Result: plants find it even more profitable to burn coal to generate electricity. Beyond the evolution of prices, the European Union has set itself the objective of reduce dependence by two thirds of gas from Russia before the end of the year and end imports by 2030.

To achieve this, Brussels it is proposed to increase the import of liquefied natural gas from other countries, such as the United States, Egypt, Qatar, Algeria or Norway —which will require improving transportation and storage— and stepping on the accelerator of renewables. Another of the tricks on the table, as you can see, is burning coal. Fossil fuel offers a direct alternative and above all quick to meet energy demand and find an alternative to Russian gas.

Burn coal, buy from Algeria, methane tankers: how Europe can reduce its dependence on Russia

Only a few months ago, in October, Europe already turned to coal to deal with the energy crisis. Its production soared and the ton reached 270 dollars. The reality is that, despite efforts to curtail its use, there are still European countries that rely heavily on it. In Germany, for example, a year ago it represented 27% of energy generation.

Interestingly, Russia is a crucial source for Europe in both gas and coal supplies. Of the about 500,000 million cubic meters of gas that Europe consumes each year, 40% comes from the federation led by Vladimir Putin. As for coal, about a third of which was consumed in Europe in 2020 came from Russia. the country still shipped shipments last week to some states in Europe and companies seek new providers of fossil fuel, such as Colombia, South Africa, Australia, Indonesia or the United States.

Chris Leboutillier Tujud0awapi Unsplash

That more coal is being burned is bad news for the environment and the green policies approved by the Union itself, which has set itself the goal of achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions in 2050. At the end of 2021, the International Energy Agency (IEA) already calculated that the year would close with an increase of 9% in energy generated with coal, percentages that rose in the case of the EU and the US, which registered 20% hikes in the use of fossil fuel. The increase was then related to a different scenario, marked by the recovery of the economy after the pandemic and the rise in gas prices.

According to a report published in 2019 by IEA experts, coal was behind at least 40% of electricity generation. Its environmental footprint is just as impressive: it produces approximately 46% of global carbon emissions.

Cover Image | Dominik Vanyi (Unsplash) and Chris LeBoutillier (Unsplash)

Our attempts to become independent from coal have run into an unexpected enemy: the war in Ukraine and all its…

Our attempts to become independent from coal have run into an unexpected enemy: the war in Ukraine and all its…

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