Daily Management Review

French Engie to close the world's dirtiest coal-fired plant


French energy company Engie decided to close coal-fired power station in the Australian city of Hazelwood. The facility is believed to be the most polluting in the world. Cost of the operation is estimated at € 1 billion, writes Les Echos.

According to the publication, the decision to stop operations has been taken at meeting of Engie’s board of directors on 19-20 October, yet official confirmation from the company came just now. The power plant will be closed in the spring of 2017, and further dismantled because of lack of potential buyers.

The station’s power output is 1550 MW, it provides about 25% of all electricity generated in Victoria state. Emissions amount up to 1.6 tons of CO2 per MW/h. The plant employs around 1000 people.

In October 2015, Engie made a commitment to stop construction of coal-fired power plants around the world, and to get rid of coal assets. As of the end of 2015, Engie owns 28 coal-fired stations.

According to experts, by 2040 gas will become the main fuel in the energy balance of the OECD countries. On the other hand, global demand for coal, mainly bought by China, will also rise by 15% then. It is known that thermal power plants are the main source of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

At the end of last year, many businesses interpreted results of the Paris conference as a signal to curtail energy projects using fossil fuels, and especially coal power. Some financial institutions have already taken related steps. In particular, Norwegian and Swedish pension funds and the Rockefeller Foundation announced withdrawal of their capitals from coal projects. 

European organization Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), engaged in the study of how the environment affects human health, earlier issued a report. The paper states that only in 2013, the EU has spent around € 43 billion to liquidate consequences of the atmosphere pollution with harmful emissions from mines and coal-fired plants. The sum includes treatment and prevention of various diseases caused by production and consumption of coal waste. Also a recent Greenpeace report says Europe annually loses more than 200 000 years of life due to coal burning. HEAL recommends to fully stop the coal industry on the continent not later than 2040. Otherwise, Europe will have to spend even more money, and life of its inhabitants will be shortened even more.

Coal is a cheap energy, and tens of thousands of miners should not be left without a stable income. Those are argument that the coal industry uses to defend itself. Coal is indeed inexpensive, so Europe has to spend 10 billion euros just to maintain the industry (Ecofys analysis).

According to the report, this as much as EU countries spent to subsidize wind power (minus 43 billion euros spent on treatment of harmful carbon emissions). Annual subsidies to nuclear energy, biofuel energy, hydropower and other types of renewable sources are on average at around 5 billion euros and below, according to Ecofys study.

In addition, analysts explain, cost of coal power has caught up or even become higher than cost of energy received from majority of "green" sources. 

source: lesechos.fr