As of late, the idea of getting rid of coal in their own national electricity grid has become a popular one among several major nations across the world. At 6 least major countries, including Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and now Finland, have all recently announced the imminent phase-out of all coal-fired power plants.
Several of the announcement have been made just in the past few weeks since the Paris Agreement became effective earlier this month.
Earlier this week, Canada, which has already significantly reduced its use of coal to about 7% of its energy generation, announced a phase of the resource by 2030. The country’s strong hydropower should keep dominating its energy generation, but the country has also been investing in wind and solar to make up the difference.
A week before Canada’s announcement, France announced a more aggressive timeline of 2023 for its own phase-out of coal, but it should be more easily achievable since they have already reduced the use of coal to 3% of their electricity generation – thanks to a strong local nuclear industry.
As of last week, Germany official approved its Climate Action Plan 2050, which technically includes a phase-out of at least half the coal-fired power plants by 2030 and the rest could follow by the end of the 2050 timeframe of the action plan.
Finland is the latest country to join the group, but it also announced a more aggressive solution of simply banning entirely the use of coal to produce energy by 2030. The country gets about 12% of its electricity from coal, which it has to import.
Peter Lund, a researcher at Aalto University, and chair of the energy programme at the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council, told New Scientist about the recently announced ban on coal:
“These moves are important forerunners to enforce the recent positive signals in coal use. The more countries join the coal phase-out club, the better for the climate as this would force the others to follow.”
Who’s going to be next? It’s unlikely to be the US, which gets about 33% of its total electricity generation from coal. President-elect Donald Trump was elected partly on his promise to “bring back coal jobs” and grow the industry rather than to phase it out. Though experts have concluded that his plan isn’t likely to have a massive impact on the industry despite the scrapping of environmental regulations.
The growth of renewable energy is difficult to stop and reducing the use of coal in electricity generation also has the consequence of increasing the positive impact of electric vehicles since they become powered by cleaner energy sources.