New data shows that reverting back to the use of coal to generate power in some regions in Europe has not led to an increase in greenhouse emissions. Some European Union member states, including Poland and Germany, have returned to using coal to generate power in the short-term, in the face of supply constraints and exorbitant gas prices that have followed Ukraine’s invasion by Russia earlier last year.
The data, released by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air, shows that greenhouse gas emissions in the EU were at their lowest in at least three decades last month.
An analysis conducted by the center also shows that only a small portion of November’s drop in the use of fossil fuels could be attributed to the harsh weather. The analysts stated that in the power sector, mild temperatures made up 2% of the 12% decrease in fossil fuel demand. They explained that outside the power sector, milder temperatures accounted for a 6% decrease in the demand for gas, which is low in comparison to the total decrease in demand for fossil fuels, which stood at 26%.
While it is expected that low temperatures this month will cause more coal to be burned, making it harder to meet targets to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, this may not be the case. Lead analyst Lauri Myllyvirta explained that the data demonstrated that allegations against the European Union’s failure to honor climate targets were wrong. Myllyvirta argued that the perception that the EU was falling back on its commitments as a result of the Ukraine war were wrong because coal consumption was still low.
Last month, the European Union used less coal than it had in November 2021 and less than in the same month for the past 30 years. This is despite the substantial decrease in output from nuclear reactors in France and Germany, which saw France decrease its power demand significantly and Germany make up for the deficit by increasing power generation from renewable sources such as solar and wind. The data also shows that Poland and Germany used less coal than they had in 2021, with Finland’s use of coal increasing only slightly.
It should be noted though that coal usage is dependent on the weather. If temperatures drop, more gas may be burnt, which may stall progress on reducing the use of fossil fuels this cold season.
As the cold intensifies, coal extractors such as Warrior Met Coal Inc. (NYSE: HCC) are likely to see an uptick in demand, enabling them to offer greater value to their shareholders.
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