October 8, 2018 Read More →

Rising coal prices in Europe spur interest in renewables

Bloomberg:

Coal’s push to $100 a ton in Europe may benefit the greenest energy providers more than it does miners.

Companies that provide alternatives ranging from renewable power plants to natural gas turbines are expecting a lift after the commodity reached a five-year high. Far from spurring a revival of the dirtiest fossil fuel, executives of energy companies that provide an alternative expect the move to accelerate a shift toward cleaner power sources. Higher energy costs also put efficiency on the agenda of industry and policy makers, breathing life into technologies designed to squeeze more out of raw materials of all kinds.

“It’s an opportunity,’’ Paolo Bertuzzi, chief executive officer of Turboden SpA, a unit of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., said at the Bloomberg NEF summit in London. “What’s important is not just the price but also the trend. If prices are rising, people start to think more about what to do about energy costs.’’

The surge in coal stems from record demand for energy in China, which has driven up the cost of power generation fuels of all kinds. That’s drawn cargoes away from Europe and boosted electricity prices from Britain to Italy. Those governments already were working to limit fossil fuel emissions to rein in climate change. As a result, many utilities have spent years re-positioning to draw supplies from wind and solar farms instead of coal plants.

Higher coal and power prices make renewables look like a better economic bet against fossil fuels, according to Ignacio Galan, CEO of Iberdrola SA, which was the first big promoters of wind power in Europe. “Fossil fuel costs are increasing, and that’s helping renewable energy,’’ Galan said in an interview at the BNEF conference in London this week. “It signals that if you invest in fossil fuel sources, you will be penalized.”

Oil companies also expect to benefit from rising coal costs, since natural gas they supply is used as a competing power generation fuel. “The coal price increase has an impact and it is very good news for renewables, and very good news also for gas, and also very good news for CO2 emissions,” said Philippe Sauquet, president of gas, renewables and power at the French oil major Total SA. “If coal is expensive, less coal will be dispatched, there will be more room for gas and the CO2 emissions will decrease.”

More: Coal reaching $100 a ton in Europe boosts greener alternatives

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