Shutting down coal was premature: National Mining Association CEO
National Mining Association CEO Rich Nolan argues ‘turning off well functioning coal plants is like selling your house and moving into one that has not been built yet.’
Coal is making a comeback amid the push for the increased use of clean energy by governments, including in the U.S., as Europe has been facing climbing energy costs as the war between Russia and Ukraine rages on.
In an interview that aired on "Varney & Co." on Tuesday, National Mining Association CEO Rich Nolan argued that shutting down coal plants in the U.S. was premature.
He provided an analogy, arguing that "turning off well-functioning coal plants is like selling your house and moving into one that has not been built yet."
"And that’s sort of where we are with European electricity markets and here in the United States," Nolan continued. "This needs to be done thoughtfully and carefully over time."
Nolan provided the insight as plants in Europe burned 51% more coal for electricity in the first week of March compared to a year earlier because of the high price of natural gas and the reliance on Russian natural gas, Bloomberg reported, citing data from Fraunhofer ISE.
Even as coal prices are soaring, including the prices of most other commodities, European utilities have been getting increasingly reliant on coal, which is considered the dirtiest fossil fuel, for power as the region tries to reduce its dependence on Russian natural gas.
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Last week, Rystad Energy said coal prices could cross $500 per ton this year due to soaring gas prices, which could cause European countries to further turn to coal.
Coal prices hit $462 per ton on Thursday, up from $186 on February 23, before Russia invaded Ukraine, according to Rystad Energy research.
Russia is Europe’s largest supplier of thermal coal, the independent energy research company noted in a news release, adding that according to Eurostat, Russia supplied EU member states with 36 million tons of thermal coal last year, which accounts for 70% of total thermal coal imports.
Rystad also noted that even though total power coal demand "has been on a declining trend" for the last decade, coal-fired power generators in Europe have become more dependent on Russian coal and Russia’s market share has grown significantly.