What will replace coal-fired generating capacity? Analysis of a zero-coal electricity market

If all the Netherlands’ coal-fired power stations (together 5 GW, 31 TWh/a) were taken off-stream in 2020, the capacity shortfall would probably be taken over by Dutch gas-fired plant and German gas and coal-fired units. According to a recent analysis, over 20 TWh of the approximately 31 TWh coal-fired capacity lost (incl. 6 TWh co-fired with biomass) would then come from gas-fired plant, with the remaining 11 TWh at first coming from foreign coal-fired facilities. These would use hard coal rather than brown coal, as no significant need for extra brown coal units is anticipated. Throughout northwestern Europe there is ongoing debate on coal-fired generating capacity, given the loss of direct employment in domestic coal mines in the face of cheaper imports. With the German government keen to meet its CO2 emission reduction pledges, the German generating sector will be under pressure to close brown and hard coal units in that country, too, which means imports of German coal-sourced electricity will decline in the course of the 2020s, implying that ultimately it will be Dutch and foreign gas-fired plant that will replace output from the Netherlands’ coal-fired units.


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