Ukraine, Turkey and the Western Balkans topped the European charts in 2019 across all types of air pollutants from coal-fired thermal power plants, Ember found. Furthermore, over half of entire SO2 emissions originated in Southeastern Europe.
Coal power air pollution statistics highlight contributions from a small number of countries in Europe, energy think tank Ember said. Turkey and Ukraine rank within the top three polluting countries and Western Balkan countries are next in the list despite their relatively small sizes. According to data for 2019 presented in the research, 61.3% of industrial sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions came from Southeastern Europe.
When coal is burned for generating electricity, pollutants are released into the air, which poses a threat to human health. They are responsible for high numbers of premature deaths.
With pollutants sometimes traveling thousands of kilometers, air pollution from coal power affects the whole of Europe no matter the source.
Bitola thermal power plant is biggest emitter of SO2 in Balkans
As for SO2 emissions, the top ten coal plants were responsible for 44% of the total. Burshtynska, located in Ukraine, is the biggest polluter in the category, followed by North Macedonia’s Bitola.
The remaining eight thermal power plants are all from the region tracked by Balkan Green Energy News: Soma B and Kangal (Turkey), Nikola Tesla A (Serbia), Seyitömer (Turkey), Kakanj and Ugljevik (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Kostolac B and Nikola Tesla B (Serbia), in that order.
Ukraine’s coal plants lead in PM10 pollution
The majority of PM10 pollution from coal power generation originates from plants in Ukraine, which has eight plants in the top ten and all the top five. Turkey’s Seyitömer and Tunçbilek are also in tier one. EU countries like Germany and Poland are also among the worst for NOx pollution.
Poland’s Elektrownia Bełchatów, the largest coal-fired thermal power station in Europe, also emits most nitrogen oxides, usually marked as NOx. Next is Ukraine’s Zaporizka, which didn’t appear in the top ten in the two other categories. Yatağan, located in Turkey, is in third place.
Germany is represented with four plants. Nikola Tesla A and B are ranked sixth and ninth, respectively, and Kosovo B is tenth.
All the coal-fired thermal power plants in the three lists were commissioned more than 30 years ago.