欧洲煤炭发电站前景堪忧? – 中国国际能源舆情研究中心

欧洲煤炭发电站前景堪忧?

【TheGuardian网11月25日报道】由于面临当地政治阻力,苏格兰电力公司伊维尔德罗拉本月表示,作为减少碳排放和转向清洁发电计划的一部分,将关闭西班牙最后两座燃煤发电站。在英国,煤炭快速开采很顺利,但当该国最后8个煤站在2025年最后期限前必须关闭时,西班牙等欧洲国家是否会受到影响?目前单就英国而言,考虑到新能源发展,其发电站不会面临危机。

As the lobbying gets louder, coal power stations may not go quietly

Europe’s race to quit coal has hit a speed bump as energy companies face local political resistance to the closure of power stations burning the polluting fuel.

ScottishPower owner Iberdrola said this month that it was closing its last two coal power stations in Spain as part of its plan to cut carbon emissions and switch to cleaner power generation. But days later the Spanish government reacted by blocking the shutdowns, starting the process for a royal decree that would give ministers the final say on any power station closure if it was deemed to affect energy security.

Despite the company’s protestations, Álvaro Nadal, the country’s energy minister, told Iberdrola last week that Madrid’s opposition was firm.

To an extent, the impasse is a problem peculiar to Spain: despite most of the coal burned by the country’s power plants being imported, its vocal mining lobby still carries political clout. But it is not the only example in Europe of political concerns rubbing up against the EU’s climate change goals and energy companies trying to transform themselves from coal-burning polluters into green energy firms: Enel, the world’s biggest utility by customer numbers, has faced similar hiccups in Italy.

The cases also raise questions about whether the UK’s progressive and self-imposed coal phase-out, due to conclude by 2025, will be as painless as it has been so far, if energy supply concerns bite.

Although Madrid argues its policy is about security of supply, energy experts point out the country has too much power capacity, not too little. Chris Littlecott at the thinktank E3G said: “Spain could comfortably switch off all of its coal power plants and use its other existing capacity. The debate in Spain is much more driven by domestic politics, and regional organised opposition, particularly by unions, that is playing back into national politics.”

Environment group WWF Spain branded the intervention a “desperate move” to block the transition to a “100% renewable and fossil-free future”.

Iberdrola has pointed out the two plants account for just 0.87% of the country’s electricity generation capacity; that it also operates several idle gas power stations that could be fired up if needed; and that none of the 170 employees affected will lose their jobs.

Keith Anderson, chief corporate officer for ScottishPower, said the Spanish closures were a natural extension of the company’s years-long shift away from coal, which resulted in it closing Scotland’s last coal plant last year.

“What we’re doing is saying: let’s keep pushing down that journey, let’s look at shutting down those coal plants,” he said. “Economically we don’t perceive this as being a big concern and the upside is we get more investment in renewables … We would urge the Spanish government to look at the opportunity here.”

Renewables have already overtaken coal in EU power generation

Francesco Starace, chief executive of Italy-based Enel, thinks it is inevitable that the Spanish situation will be repeated in other European countries. “I think yes, it’s logical. Because typically coal plants – that nobody loves but everybody clings to – are plants that have been around for a long time,” he said. “So every time you say ‘I want to shut down this unit’, there’s always the question ‘OK, and how about the people working there?’ Provided you give an answer about that, then it’s ‘OK, what is the balance of energy supply and demand?’”

In 2015 the company committed to phasing out 23 of its coal and gas power stations, as it shifts its investments to solar and wind power. But it has run into roadblocks similar to Iberdrola’s.

When Enel said it was shutting two small coal stations at Genoa and Bastardo – “we are talking about really the smallest of them all”, said Starace – ministers raised concerns over supply and ordered them to stay open. The firm is still awaiting permits from the Italian government to close the plants.

Starace, who will decide on the fate of four more plants by the end of the year, said he understood the concerns. “I think it’s a fair debate that needs to happen: you cannot just say ‘we’re shutting down and that’s it,’” he said.

But he added that the Spanish situation showed the importance of Brussels’s overarching targets to cut emissions and generate more power from renewables.

“How do we want to decarbonise? Do we really want to decarbonise? Or is this something that goes back and forth, country by country by country? That is a reason we have a European commission and European directives,” he said.

In the UK, the swift phasing-out of coal has been relatively painless, but will it suffer Spain and Italy’s problems when the country’s last eight coal stations have to close by the 2025 deadline? Anderson believes the milestone “should be no issue in the UK”, because mechanisms are in place to bring forward investment in new, cleaner power by then.

And Littlecott agrees that the UK is a different case: “The last pockets of coal mining in countries like Spain and Poland still exert localised political pressure. The UK’s situation is very different, with the challenge here now being to capitalise on the industrial opportunities and jobs growth from clean technologies.”

( 译者:耿千千 )

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