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Phasing out coal-based electricity generation

Question écrite de M. Bas EICKHOUT - Commission européenne

Question de M. Bas EICKHOUT,

Diffusée le 1 mai 2023

Subject: Phasing out coal-based electricity generation

Analysis of EU electricity data1for 2022 shows that markets barely responded to the energy crisis by switching to coal generation. The relatively minor 28 TWh year-on-year increase in coal-based electricity generation covered less than 1/6th of the 185 TWh combined drop in nuclear and hydroelectric output in 2022 and was limited to only some Member States (mainly Germany, Italy and Bulgaria).

However, in several Member States decision makers proposed extending the lifetime of coal power plants and/or mines beyond the coal phase-out dates they had committed themselves to. These announcements were made with reference to the energy crisis without providing any sound justification for the need to extend the use of coal to meet vital domestic needs.

1. How does the Commission assess requests from Member States that want to deviate from their original coal phase-out commitments and prolong the economic lifetime of coal assets?

2. Has the Commission, to date, recommended placing the coal plant capacity identified into a Strategic Reserve Scheme, as recommended by the Electricity Market Regulation?

3. In cases where Member States deviate from the coal plant retirement timeline enshrined in the Territorial Just Transition Plans, will these decisions have consequences for Just Transition Mechanism (JTM) and Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) funding?

Submitted: 2.5.2023


Réponse - Commission européenne

Diffusée le 5 juillet 2023

Answer given by Ms Simson on behalf of the European Commission

(6 July 2023)

As per Article 194 of the Treaty on the European Union, Member States are free to determine their energy mix. Within the national legal framework, decisions on the economic lifetime of individual coal assets are taken by the economic operator, as long as this complies with the EU acquis, including the state aid regime in place.

The regulation (EU) 2019/943 (2) does not prevent coal plants from operating on the electricity market. It contains rules for Member States wanting to introduce state support for security of electricity supply (3).

The rules require Member States to assess whether a capacity mechanism in the form of strategic reserve is capable of addressing the resource adequacy concerns, before considering a different type of capacity mechanism.

The regulation also contains CO2 emission limits for power plants participating in capacity mechanisms, that exclude the participation of frequently activated high emission capacity as of 1 July 2025.

With the Electricity Market Design proposal (4), the Commission has not proposed any changes on the capacity mechanism in the regulation.

The Commission is closely monitoring the implementing of Just Transition Fund programmes. If a Member State significantly delays or deviates from its coal phase-out commitments enshrined in its Territorial Just Transition Plan, and only if this results in not achieving the set objectives of the programme implementing the Plan, it may result in a financial correction as per Article 13 of Regulation 2021/1056 (5).

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