Matt Atlas

Czech Coal Commission Recommends 2038 Phase-Out Date

The Czech Republic should phase out coal by 2038, a national commission on coal’s future recommended on Friday, which would be one of the later target dates in Europe as part of the continent’s efforts to cut carbon emissions.

The Czech Republic currently uses coal for just under half of its electricity production, some of which it exports.

The phase-out deadline of 2038 puts the country on par with Germany, but unlike its bigger neighbour, the Czech Republic is betting more on nuclear power than renewables in the future.

The recommendation from the commission, made up of political, industry and environmental officials, will now go to the government for a decision.

The deadline for the phase-out is the middle of three target dates that were under discussion, the others being 2033 and 2043.

Industry Minister Karel Havlicek said the recommendation should be reviewed again at least once in the next five years.

“The year 2038 is not only a compromise among all groups in the commission, but it clearly results from economic, technological and ecological assumptions in terms of building new resources,” Havlicek said.

Representatives of environmental groups Greenpeace and Hnuti Duha were the only ones opposing the date as they wanted the earliest deadline. These environmental groups also said a real timetable for the phase-out was missing.

Several other EU states aim to phase out coal before 2030. The EU carbon price has already helped to drive a switch from coal to gas power in many regions since 2018.

The country’s coal plants are owned by majority state-owned CEZ, central Europe’s largest listed utility, and private groups Sev.en Energy and Sokolovska Uhelna, with all operating lignite mines as well.

Industry experts have said market pressure from a dwindling spread between the price of electricity and carbon emission allowances, together with tougher emissions rules, may push many coal power stations off the grid sooner.

CEZ has shut 1,000 MW in coal installed capacity in the last year and has sold coal plants at home and abroad, aiming to cut its coal capacity in half by 2025, versus 2016 levels.