IIDMA asks Endesa to clarify the future of its coal-fired power plants

The International Institute for Law and the Environment (IIDMA) is asking Endesa to clarify its future plans for its coal-fired power plants. This request follows media reports that the company plans to close the As Pontes and Litoral plants, despite having made the required investments to comply with European emissions regulations in order to be able to remain open after June 2020.

Nevertheless, Endesa has not made any official communication about its intention to close the plants, nor has it announced a closure date for these two plants. The company sent a “relevant fact” to the CNMV (Spain’s National Securities Market Commission) on Friday 27 September. This document announced that Endesa’s Board had approved “to promote the discontinuity of the production of its coal-fired power plants on the Peninsula”. IIDMA participated in Endesa’s AGM in April 2019 and asked a question about the company’s future plans regarding coal, to which the Board answered that the plants that had made the required investments, Litoral and As Pontes, “could operate beyond 2030”. In May, IIDMA also participated in Enel’s AGM to ask about this possibility of the plants operating beyond 2030, to which the Italian company gave an ambiguous answer.

“The confirmation of the closure plans would mean a radical change in the company’s criteria, which in April stated that Litoral and As Pontes could operate beyond 2030. Endesa must clarify its ambiguous position and announce its plans for the next few years regarding its coal-fired power plants. In order to guarantee an ecological transition, the plants must not convert to the production of energy with other polluting sources” says Carlota Ruiz, lawyer at IIDMA.

Of Endesa’s 5 plants, both Litoral and As Pontes have made the necessary investments and adaptations to comply with the strictest emission limit values established in European regulations. In the case of the Teruel and Compostilla coal power plants, the investments were not made, and so their closure was requested by the company at the end of 2018 and they are awaiting authorisation from the Ministry to undertake an orderly and progressive closure with a view to June 2020, the deadline for those facilities included in the National Transitional Plan (TNP) that have not made the necessary adaptations.

The reference in Endesa’s CNMV’s “relevant fact” to the “Peninsula” coal power plants excludes the Es Murterar coal power plant in the Balearic Islands, whose Groups I and II will close before January 2020. The rest of the plant’s groups (Groups III and IV) are expected to close in 2025 depending on the installation of the second submarine cable planned for the interconnection of the islands.

In addition to not having confirmed the closure, Endesa has not yet submitted to the Government the closure request for As Pontes and Litoral. In any case the closures would be conditional on the presentation of a Just Transition Plan for the plants, as required by the Ministry of Ecological Transition. Likewise, one of the requirements for obtaining this permit would be a prior evaluation by Red Eléctrica Española.

What about the remaning coal-fired plants in Spain?

IIDMA has asked the Government on several occasions to include specific closure dates for all coal-fired power plants operating in Spain in the final draft of the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), which will be published before the end of the year, as well as in the future Spanish Climate Change and Energy Transition Law. In order to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement, all coal-fired power plants in Spain must close by 2025 at the latest.

Naturgy and Iberdrola have not made, nor do they have plans to make, investments to adapt their plants to the new emission limits, so all of them are expected to close before June 2020. Naturgy owns La Robla, Narcea and Meirama, as well as Anllares, whose closure has already been authorised by the Government. Iberdrola owns the Lada and Velilla plants, whose closure was requested as early as 2017. The closure of Lada and Velilla is also planned for June 2020. The Puente Nuevo plant, owned by Viesgo, would also be included among the installations that will cease to operate in June 2020, as the necessary adaptations have not been made either. The closures that will take place before June 2020 involve more than 5,100 MW of coal capacity. This is equivalent to 52% of the installed coal capacity and 5% of the total installed capacity in our country*.

On the other hand, EDP has made the required investments in the Soto de Ribera and Aboño plants (Group II), while Viesgo has made investments in Los Barrios, so they could remain open beyond June 2020. If a specific end date for coal is not set in a legally binding instrument, there is a risk that these plants will continue to operate beyond 2025, which is not in alignment with the objectives of the Paris Agreement nor with the fight against climate change.

*Data updated by January of 2019, from IIDMA’s report  “A Dark Outlook: the aftermath of coal”.



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