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Spain permanently closes nearly half of its coal-fired power stations

The time of coal-fired power in Spain is quickly coming to an end.

In 2018, coal plants generated roughly 15% of the European nation’s electricity. By May 2020, they contributed less than 2% of energy production.

Now, seven of the nation’s 15 remaining coal plants are shutting down for good. The seven plants shut down this week in order to avoid the need to comply with new EU regulations coming into effect on June 30. Four more plants have applied to cease operations and will likely shut down by 2022.

The moves make Spain among the world’s fastest decarbonizing nations.

Spain’s major moves toward a climate-friendly economy are notable in their speed, as well as their motivations and incentives. The plant closings have been attributed primarily not to the Spanish government’s orders, but rather to a combination of economic pressures, EU regulations, and COVID-19. With more and more renewable energy and cheap natural gas available, as well as a higher price of carbon instituted by EU policy in 2019, coal plants are simply not economically viable businesses.

The pandemic, and the resulting reduction in demand for electricity, have only accelerated this process. When there is less demand for energy, the least economically viably power sources, like coal, are the first to go.

Greenpeace and other environmental NGOs are now aiming to end all coal-fired power generation in the country by 2025.

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Peter Schulte

Peter Schulte is the founder and editor of Kindling. Peter is also Senior Digital Engagement Associate for the Pacific Institute and the UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate, connecting businesses to sustainable water practices. Peter holds a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from University of California, Berkeley, and an M.B.A. in Sustainable Systems from Pinchot University. He lives in Bellingham, WA, USA with his wife, son, and cat.

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