January 10, 2019 Read More →

Platts expects sharp rise in European coal, nuclear plant closures in early 2020s


Years late and massively over-budget, Europe’s first EPR nuclear reactors are finally about to load fuel and energize. This is the final act in the region’s longest-running generation construction saga, with delivery of first power from EPRs in Finland and France due before end-2019.

These baseload additions buck the longer-term trend towards growing volatility in generation, as renewables displace conventional thermal. Additions of 9 GW next year across west Europe are skewed towards onshore and offshore wind, while closures of 12 GW are almost exclusively of coal, nuclear or gas plant, according to data from S&P Global Platts Analytics.

For the year just passed, over 15 GW of thermal generation closed across Europe, offset by just 3 GW of gas plant additions. Meanwhile 24 GW of wind and solar were added, according to Entso-e.

2019 is set to be the year that coal-to-gas switching in power generation takes off in continental Europe. Carbon prices supported by the new market stability reserve cutting supplies, coupled with potentially lower gas prices, could prompt unprecedented C2G switching volumes.

Looking ahead, Platts Analytics sees 65 GW of net coal and nuclear closures over next seven years, nearly double the level of closures seen over the last seven years. The coal closures are front-loaded in the period, with heavy losses across Germany, the UK and Spain before end-2020, ahead of total phase-outs in France (2022, 3 GW to go), the UK (2025, nearly 7 GW to go post-2020) and the Netherlands (2030, NB confirmation of the Urgenda ruling this year could front-load closures of around 1 GW).

Conventional thermal plant additions across Europe are getting as rare as hen’s teeth, with Poland the only truly active market. For coal, and ignoring the anomaly of Datteln in Germany, the only remaining new plant construction is in Central and East Europe, with big coal units close to completion at Opole (2x 900 MW) and Jaworzno II (910 MW) in Poland.

More: Outlook 2019: Moment of truth nears for Europe’s first EPR nuclear reactors

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