The European Coal Plant Countdown counts all coal plants in the EU, the UK, Turkey, and the Western Balkan countries that have retired or announced to do so by latest 2030 since January 2016. In addition, it lists all active new coal projects. It works with the category of ‘plants’ or ‘projects’ (not on the basis of units or gigawatts) and seeks to have a certain plant-specific proof of retirement or cancellation before counting a plant.*
The Coal Exit Timeline logs all important events since 2016 that brought us closer to a coal-free Europe by 2030. Most of these events result in a change of countdown, such as the announcement of a plant closure or the cancellation of a new coal project. But we also keep track of announcements of intent, e.g. by governments, to phase out coal in their country by a certain year, or other decisive steps towards the closure or cancellation of plants, such as lost court cases.
France has extended the life of its last two coal plants, Emile-Huchet (647 MW) and Cordemais (1260 MW) until the end of 2024 through a decree which allows them to operate an additional 1800 hours. This effectively delays the country’s coal exit from 2023 to 2024.
The Spanish government accepted energy company Endesa’s request to close its 1,468 MW As Pontes coal plant by August 2024. It will be replaced by a portfolio of renewable energy projects, including 1 GW of wind power capacity, and create more than 1,300 jobs in the region of Galicia.
The Romanian government has published an emergency law for the phase out of coal by 2030. It is expected to be approved within a month. It constitutes a two year acceleration of the country’s original coal exit plan announced last September, and clears the way for Romania to exploit its enormous solar and wind energy potential.
Slovakia confirms that its 266MW Nováky coal power plant will close in 2023, demonstrating that European countries can proceed with their coal phase out plans and reduce their dependence on Russian fossil fuels at the same time.
The Slovenian government has announced that it will phase out coal by 2033 at the latest. The plan lacks ambition when compared to the coal phase out dates of peer countries like Slovakia (2030), North Macedonia (2027) and Greece (2025), and falls short of the country’s responsibility on climate change. Nevertheless, it brings a Paris-aligned, pre-2030 coal phase out within reach.
The new Czech government has announced Czechia will phase out coal by 2033 in its programme statement. It's the 22nd European country to formalise a coal exit but joins five others in announcing a Paris Agreement incompatible date.
Spanish energy company Endesa has closed its 1160MW Litoral plant in Almeria. The company plans to construct 1.5 GW of renewable power (mainly solar) to replace the plant, creating more than 2,000 jobs during construction and 400 in operational and maintenance roles thereafter.
Portugal has become the fourth country in Europe to stop burning coal, with its only remaining coal plant, Pego, closing ten days ahead of schedule. It concludes a whirlwind coal exit, which began when the country signed a declaration to exit coal by 2030 at COP23 in Bonn back in 2017.
Polish Climate and Environment minister Anna Moskwa has confirmed that Poland intends to phase out coal only in 2049, contradicting her government’s commitment to the COP26 Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement just hours after signing it.
*How the German coal exit translates to our countdown
Though the end date for coal is foreseen in 2038 only, the law does retire approximately 23 GW prior to 2030. For lignite plants, a plant-specific phaseout pathway exists, but for hard coal, the law does not explicitly state which plants shall retire when, as the closure pathway shall be defined through auctions first. In order to reflect that, according to the law, all but 8 GW of German hard coal capacity will retire by 2030, we made assumptions on which hard coal plants would retire before 2030 to align the hard coal closure path with our counter’s methodology, which only registers retirements when the exact coal plant is known.
In December 2020, a set of three hard coal plants that, according to our evaluation, were implicitly intended to retire after 2030 (mostly because of their young age), unexpectedly won in the first auction that determines hard coal retirements. As a result, we added it to the list of plants that are to retire by 2030 at the latest. At the same time, we did not assume that other plants are now set to retire later, i.e. after 2030, just to fulfill the intended phase-out pathway of the German law. Instead, the list of plants set to retire by 2030 grew by three. This leads to a new setup with less than the 8 GW of hard coal capacity that are described in the law will be left after 2030. In short: we anticipate a quicker phase-out of German hard coal capacity.
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