Spain has shut down seven of the country’s 15 coal-fired power plants, as plant operators say they cannot afford to invest sufficiently to meet European Union (EU) emissions standards and pay higher taxes on carbon emissions without receiving EU subsidies, which have been gradually phased out since 2018.
The closures come as Spain’s carbon-fired electricity generation fell from 15 percent in February to 5 percent of total electricity generation in March, then further to the all-time low of just 1.49 percent of Spain’s electricity output in May.
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Of the 15 coal-fired plants operational at the end of last year, only five committed to investing to meet “clean coal” requirements that will allow them to continue operating after 2020.
Even so, the reduction in carbon-fired electricity plants has not resulted in a switch to renewable resources, with the vacuum in Spain’s energy mix being filled not by wind or solar or geothermal — but by natural gas, which has increased it share of the total energy generation from 10.9 percent last year to 15.1 percent today.
The seven plants that are closing, which have 1,100 employees between their own staff and sub-contracted workers, are the first, but not the last that will be closed. Four additional plants, with some 800 employees among them, have also requested government permission to close their facilities.
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