German utility Steag halted its coal-fired power plant Bergkamen-A after it ran out of hard coal supplies amid an energy crunch globally and logistics challenges domestically, the company told Bloomberg on Friday.
“We are short of hard coal,” Steag spokesman Daniel Muhlenfeld told Bloomberg via email.
“There is a strong demand for coal per se and secondly, there is a strong demand for transport by barge. And since Bergkamen has no rail connection, there are no logistical alternatives available here,” Muhlenfeld said.
Lignite and hard coal accounted for around 26 percent of Germany’s power generation in the first half of 2021, according to data from the German Association of Energy and Water Industries, BDEW.
In recent weeks, utilities across Europe have fired up more coal-powered generation as natural gas prices continue to surge.
Even the UK, which has pledged to phase out coal-fired power generation by October 2024, had to fire up earlier this month an old coal plant that was on standby in order to meet its electricity demand. The share of coal in Britain’s electricity mix during some periods in September—albeit below 3 percent—was more than double compared to the below-1-percent share in September 2020.
Gas and power prices in Europe are at all-time highs, as Europe is low not only on natural gas supply as the heating season begins on October 1. Coal is also in short supply as some utilities are forced to switch to coal from gas due to the surging gas prices. Coal prices are also surging amid a tight global market supply with Chinese demand booming and with high EU carbon prices.
Officials at Russian companies tell Bloomberg that European utilities are asking for coal. But Europe may not get much incremental coal supply anytime soon, as Russian coal exports are constrained just as gas deliveries are.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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