In words everyone (or almost) want to get rid of it as soon as possible. Yet coal in Europe is not only still alive and well, but electricity consumption is so strong that the price for the first time in six years has returned to exceed the threshold of 100 dollars per tonne.
Not even the extraordinary rally in carbon dioxide permits – tripled in value this year above 21 euros per tonne, a record since 2008 – has discouraged the use of the most polluting of fuels. Coal-fired power stations not only remain in business, but their operation could even accelerate as winter approaches. In fact, gas has also risen a great deal, in all European hubs. And if the dynamics on the market do not change, the so-called ‘switching’ is likely to take place in reverse: in simple terms, there will be more electricity generated by coal and less from gas, rather than vice versa, as would be desirable for the environment.