June 29, 2020 Read More →

Transition away from coal speeding up in Spain

El País:

Spain is on track to become a coal-free country in record time. All of its remaining coal-fired thermal power plants will start shutting down on Tuesday, a year-and-a-half after the closure of the coal mines, which could not survive without the state aid that the European Union has banned.

Seven out of the 15 coal-fired power stations that are still working in Spain will cease being operational on June 30, after their owners – the electricity companies – decided that it does not make financial sense to adapt them to European regulations. And four more are getting ready to shut down soon. Several of these power stations have not been producing electricity for months because it is no longer profitable due to a combination of market conditions and political decisions by the European Commission, which is the executive branch of the EU.

Until just a couple of years ago, these highly contaminating plants were accounting for approximately 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions in Spain. In 2018, nearly 15% of all electricity consumed in Spain came from coal-fired thermal stations.

But that seems like an eternity ago. In May of this year, coal-fired plants barely contributed 1.4% to the power mix. And they produced nothing at all between May 1 and 2, for the first time since Red Eléctrica de España (REE), the national power grid operator, began keeping records in 1990.

The seven coal-fired thermal plants that will be phased out on Tuesday are Meirama in A Coruña, Narcea in Asturias, La Robla and Compostilla in León, Andorra in Teruel, Puente Nuevo in Córdoba and Velilla in Palencia. Together, these seven plants represent 4,630 megawatts (MW), a little less than half the installed coal power generation capacity in Spain. They provide around 1,100 jobs, including direct employees and outsourced work.

Four other plants accounting for 3,092 MW and employing around 800 workers have already filed for permission to shut down. Industry sources estimated that Iberdrola’s Lada plant in Asturias, Endesa’s As Pontes plant in A Coruña and Litoral plant in Almería, and Los Barrios in Cádiz could be closed by 2021 or 2022.

[Manuel Planelles]

More: Spain to close half its coal-fired power stations

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