A surprise announcement Wednesday by EU electricity utilities that they won’t build any new coal-fired power plants after 2020 was spoiled by Greece and Poland — two coal-dependent countries that have no intention of dropping the polluting fuel.
Despite the Greek and Polish resistance, the agreement “shows that conventional utilities are aligning themselves with a transition towards clean energy,” said Gerard Wynn, energy finance consultant at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. “While it could go further, especially to support the phase out of the most polluting electricity generation, it shows momentum which inevitably will catch up with countries which are still planning new coal-fired power plants, such as Greece and Poland.”
Georg Zachmann, research fellow at the Bruegel think tank, said Eurelectric’s commitment appears to be “a statement of the obvious.”
“Decreasing cost of wind and solar power have largely erased the competitive advantage of coal,” he said.
However, he added that the signal sent by the pledge was positive, considering that Eurelectric has been having a hard time getting its members to unite on key energy and climate issues in the past.