Electricity

United Kingdom, Slovakia to bid farewell to coal this year

United Kingdom Slovakia bid farewell coal this year

Photo: Slovenské elektrárne

Published

January 16, 2024

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Published:

January 16, 2024

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Uniper is about to close the United Kingdom’s last coal-fired thermal power plant and turn to hydrogen production at the site. Slovakia is considering to build a small modular reactor instead of its only remaining coal plant, due to be shut down by mid-year.

Few countries in Europe will still have coal power plants in ten years due to emission costs, ever stricter environmental rules and the hesitation of their operators to invest in keeping mostly old facilities competitive. Britain and Slovakia are completing the coal phaseout in 2024 while Austria earlier scrapped the plan to fire up the retired Mellach plant.

German utility Uniper is sticking with its plan to close its Ratcliffe-on-Soar plant in September. The 2 GW coal power station of four units is the last one in the UK. Last winter it was one of five in standby mode.

Ratcliffe was commissioned in 1968. The company earlier revealed plans to start low-carbon hydrogen production at the location and gradually reach 500 MW in electrolysis capacity by the end of the decade.

The share of fossil fuels in domestically produced electricity in Britain fell in 2023 to the lowest since 1957, Carbon Brief calculated. They accounted for 33% but gas alone made up 31%, coal was barely above 1% and the remainder was oil.

Slovakia pushed coal phaseout forward by six years

Slovakia is set to become coal free by mid-year. The country earlier committed to completing the phaseout by 2030, Beyond Fossil Fuels said.

The last coal plant, Vojany, is scheduled to end its operations by the end of June. The facility has two remaining units of 110 MW each. It was built in 1966.

Its operator Slovenské elektrárne has been coincinerating waste and biomass in Vojany, but eventually concluded that the supply of alternative fuel is unreliable and insufficient. The facility is located in the Michalovce district in eastern Slovakia.

The Novaky coal plant, of 266 MW, was closed in December. Last year the Ministry of Economy and Slovenské elektrárne revealed they are considering the option of building a small modular reactor instead at one of the sites.

Austria keeps Mellach coal plant offline

Austria’s government failed last year to push through a proposition through parliament to reactivate Verbund’s Mellach coal plant. The endeavor was criticized as too complicated and costly.

The country lifted its share of renewables in electricity generation to 87% last year from 78%. It earned it the second place in the chart in the European Union, while Luxembourg held the top position.

Moreover, France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland committed in December to decarbonizing their electricity systems entirely by 2035.

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