In July this year, the European Commission’s lack of ambition to phase out thermal power plants became a reality, jeopardizing everyone’s climate ambition. In the opinion of European leaders, thermal power plants should be banned, and the EC showed no signs of agreeing. A decision was finally made, but not in line with the carbon reduction plan.
The paralysis of the European Commission delays the gradual elimination of thermal power plants
There are many voices at EU level, signatories to the carbon reduction plan, criticizing the lack of decision to phase out thermal power plants. They believe that the time is running out for the European Union to decarbonise the heating sector, which accounts for 12% of total CO2 emissions in Europe. So far, the Commission has shown a lack of disappointing ambition in their actions to stop the installation of thermal power plants from 2025.
“This deadline is approaching and is negotiable. If we continue to install thermal power plants after this date, they will remain in operation beyond 2050, when the EU should already be climate neutral, ”say the environmentalists involved in the project.
The same environmental NGOs say this is important and the Commission should publish revised draft regulations for the design and energy labeling of thermal power plants by the end of this year.
“These regulations are the most obvious tool for the phasing out of thermal power plants on the EU market.
If the current projects are not ambitious, they will penalize all EU member states, both first and late, ”say the NGOs.
If things do not go well, European leaders who want to take thermal power plants out of their markets and meet their climate targets will be forced to apply EU regulations to them. As Member States have to notify the European Commission before applying stricter requirements at national level, it is difficult to ban certain types of thermal power plants if they are still allowed in the rest of the EU. For example, the Danish Energy Agency is conducting a legal analysis that explores ways to limit and phase out the use of heating oil, while respecting EU regulations.
The European Union has made a decision. It came sooner than environmental NGOs expected
All the discussions so far have the objective of eliminating carbon emissions by 2035. One part of this project is the elimination of thermal power plants that consume fossil fuels, so they have carbon emissions. Recent pressure from lobbyists in the European Parliament, plus environmental NGOs, has led the EU to make a much faster decision than antagonists expected.
In other words, the decision was not to proceed with the final disposal of thermal power plants, especially since there are areas where there are no viable alternatives to replace these heating systems. The explanations for this decision were given by a senior EU official, who stated:
“We also need to look at the differences between Member States. Some EU countries are much, much more advanced than others in terms of decarbonisation. We understand that we cannot introduce an overnight ban. Therefore, the idea is to gradually allow the elimination and financing with EU money only of those projects that can ensure efficient and sustainable heating.
(…) And not to go for a radical solution that would simply ban a technology that we still see widely used and that is a reality in many homes, “said a senior EU official.