IEA says climate targets will accelerate phase-out of Czech coal

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The Czech Republic must prepare for a phasing out of coal earlier than expected and develop low-carbon energy sources to replace it while taking measures to cushion the economic and social impacts in the coal-producing regions, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its latest comprehensive review of the country’s energy policies.

Currently, coal accounts for almost half of the Czech Republic’s electricity production and a quarter of its residential heating demand, and is expected to continue to play an important role until the 2030s. However, new energy policies and climate change in the European Union are likely to force an earlier phase-out, as higher prices for CO2 emissions will make coal less competitive with other sources of electricity and heat, notes the IEA in its review of 200 pages.

Continuing to diversify energy sources is essential to ensure energy security while phasing out coal and all forms of low carbon production should be assessed and roadmaps developed to exploit the most promising options. . In addition, the legal and regulatory framework will need to be adjusted to facilitate the emergence of new business models, such as local energy communities.

“I encourage the Czech government to start making better use of the various low carbon energy sources that can help it make a safe transition to a cleaner energy system and fuel its economy for decades to come,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said during an online launch of the report with Czech Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlicek.

The report finds that the phasing out of coal and coal mining in the Czech Republic poses economic and social challenges, as the sector is a major employer, especially in regions with relatively weak economies. To ensure public support for its energy transition, the Czech Republic can use available European Union funds and mechanisms to help affected communities, notes the IEA.

Since the previous IEA review of the Czech Republic’s policies in 2016, the country has improved its energy efficiency, especially in the building and industrial sectors. By 2030, the report recommends placing energy efficiency at the center of the Czech Republic’s energy policy development.

In 2019, coal accounted for a third of total energy supply, 46% of electricity production and more than 25% of residential heating. The role of coal in total energy supply (AET) decreased by 19% between 2009 and 2019, as coal-fired power generation was replaced by natural gas, bioenergy, nuclear and solar photovoltaic (PV) . However, coal still accounts for half of the total national energy production. In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic affected coal production, which decreased by 24% compared to 2019. The share of coal in power generation fell to 41% in 2020 and was replaced by the natural gas, bioenergy, nuclear and solar photovoltaic.

In the section on nuclear energy, the IEA notes that nuclear plays an important role, accounting for 19.5% of TES and 37.5% of electricity production in 2020. Electricity production nuclear origin has more than doubled since 2000, following the commissioning of the Temelín nuclear power plant. . In 2019, the Czech Republic had the seventh highest share of nuclear power in total electricity production among IEA countries. The Temelín nuclear power plant also provides district heating to its local communities. The Czech Republic has six nuclear power reactors at two sites in operation (four at the Dukovany plant and two at the Temelín plant). The IEA details the Czech Republic’s plan to build a new unit at Dukovany and its interest in small modular reactors (SMR). It recommends that the government:

Ensure that all relevant stakeholders learn from recent Gen-III nuclear new build projects in OECD countries to limit the risk of cost overruns and construction delays.

Support the electricity company CEZ in conducting a strong tendering process for the new construction project of Unit 1 of Dukovany II with clear technological and economic selection criteria, while securing the interests safety essentials.

Clarify the long-term perspective and decision timeframe for the construction of new nuclear power plants to ensure that industry and energy policy programs remain well aligned.

Establish a roadmap to identify the potential role of SMR in the energy system, particularly in connection with the decarbonisation of industrial sectors and district heating.

Ensure the timely updating of the radioactive waste management and spent fuel management policy and maintain the engagement of local municipalities near potential deep geological repository sites to ensure public acceptance to long term.


Photo: Dukovany nuclear power plant in the Czech Republic


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