Stuck by the energy crisis, the Spanish coal-fired power station which was to close is set ablaze

AS PONTES, Spain, November 24 (Reuters) – Soaring demand for electricity in Spain, where a cold snap is worsening the energy crisis, has prompted the electricity company Endesa (ELE.MC) to restart a power plant in coal which has been inactive since July and The shutdown is planned as part of European emission reduction targets.

A surge in global gas prices has coincided with the planned maintenance of three of Spain’s five nuclear power plants and a drop in hydropower production caused by low rainfall, just as the onset of winter pushes more and more Spaniards to turn on their heating.

To help the grid cope, Endesa on Monday restarted operations of a unit of its 1,400-megawatt coal-fired power plant As Pontes in the northwestern region of Galicia.

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Steam was seen escaping from one of the plant’s two giant cooling towers on Wednesday.

“It is not possible to determine how long this very exceptional situation will persist,” said a spokesperson for Endesa.

The company has been seeking government approval since 2019 to close the plant as part of its coal phase-out plan, in line with Spain’s commitment to end coal production by 2030, added the spokesperson.

Until the shutdown is official, operators must continue to offer its electricity to the national grid. Before the recent turmoil in the gas market, the cost of carbon emissions had ruled out the coal-fired electricity market and the plant had been idle.

Even though coal represents a negligible part of the Spanish energy mix – less than 2% of production according to climate consultancy firm Ember – the return of As Pontes contrasts sharply with neighboring Portugal, which has closed its last coal-fired power plant. last weekend. Read more

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But the trajectory is similar: by the end of October, Spain had burned 16% less coal than by then last year, Ember said.

With natural gas prices near record highs, several other countries are temporarily reverting to coal.

Ember data showed that coal production in the European Union jumped some 18,000 GWh in the third quarter, even as overall fossil fuel consumption fell 16,000 GWh, or around 7%, per compared to the previous year.

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Reporting by Nathan Allen and Isla Binnie; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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