As Europe continues to build new coal-fired power plants, half of those in Spain close tomorrow

Morning, seven of 15 coal-fired power plants still operational in Spain will close. A year and a half after the closure of the last mines, Naturgy, Endesa, Viesgo and Iberdrola will close half of the factories that still exist on Spanish soil so as not to undertake the environmental improvements they need in Europe. We cannot say that this is a surprise: some of these plants have been without electricity for months. And it is that, in these circumstances, coal is not profitable.

The surprising thing is that, while countries like Germany have just hooked up an additional 1.1 GW of coal to their electricity systems, Spain becomes one of the fastest decarbonizing European countries. Just a few years ago, in 2018, 15% of all energy consumed came directly from coal: in May, these plants produced only 1.4% of the country’s electricity. In fact, the

Coal falls under its own weight in Spain

Meirama (in La Coruña), Narcea (in Asturias), Andorra (in Teruel) La Robla and Compostille (in León), Puente Nuevo (in Cordoba) and Velilla (in Palencia) will be the plants which, from June 30, they will disconnect from the network. Together 4,630 megawatts total. In other words, they do not reach half of the cumulative coal capacity installed in the country, but it is very close.

They are not the only ones. There are four other factories (Lada, As Pontes, Los Barrios and Litoral in Almería) which have already asked the government to close their facilities. This is by 2021 or 2022, if we refer to current rates, an additional 3,092 megawatts will exit the system. There are only four coal-fired power plants left in Spain, but as we have explained on several occasions, their future does not look particularly good. It would not be unusual to reach 2025 with everything closed.

It is thus confirmed that the Spanish bet that there was no need to set an expiration date for coal and that it would be the market that would withdraw it from the country. The market and the European Union, of course. Since 2018, Brussels has implemented a series of measures which have triggered the price of CO2 emission rights. Something that, added to the cheap prices of natural gas, made it (economically) impossible to light many coal-fired power plants.

And now what?


This generates several problems. The first is work. 1,100 people work in the factories that are closing tomorrow and 800 others where they have already asked to close. Thermal power plants are located in areas relatively isolated from economic centers and the blow to the so-called “empty Spain” can be very strong.

However, the coal shutdown problems go beyond their origin: in recent months, the Spanish energy system is decapitalized and divestment increases The news of Portuguese wind, French nuclear or Moroccan thermal imports is increasing. It doesn’t matter, it’s true; But the fear of not knowing if we have a fund plan which, beyond marketing, leads us to a successful conclusion without endangering the energy stability of the country.

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