Finnish coal consumption soars

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The EU country reopened coal-fired plants to generate electricity after Russian supplies stopped

Coal consumption in Finland surged 10% last year compared to 2021 as the country boosted its use in power generation and heating, Statistics Finland said on Wednesday.

The highest increase was recorded in the second quarter of 2022 when coal reserves jumped by 23% compared to the previous year amounting to 1.49 million tons, and consumption surged by more than a quarter on an annual basis.

“The consumption of hard coal as a fuel in the generation of electricity and heat and in manufacturing amounted to 2,015 thousand tons,” the agency said.

This comes in stark contrast to Finland’s green energy transition plans. In 2018, the country’s government vowed to ban the use of coal in the energy sector from 2029. However, last year Helsinki had to revive some of the previously decommissioned coal-fired power plants after imports from Russia subsided.

Moscow stopped supplying power to Finland last May, after Russian utility Inter RAO had not received payments for electricity sold via the pan-European exchange Nord Pool.

The EU has been seeking alternatives to Russian oil and gas as it has pledged to end its dependence on energy from the sanctions-hit country. The global energy crisis entailed by surging natural gas prices has pushed coal use to a ten-year high last year, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

In particular, demand for the fossil fuel, the largest source of electricity, significantly increased in the EU and is expected to remain high in the coming years as many countries have reopened their coal-fired power plants despite a green agenda on fears of gas shortages. The EU member states are projected to boost coal production by 2.7 million tons in 2023, the IEA said.

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