• Spain’s energy regulator rejects government plan to keep coal plants open

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

Spain’s national energy regulator has rejected the government’s plan to extend the life of three of the country’s aging coal-fired power plants, citing both a lack of need and its contravention of EU and national law. Last November the national government proposed a royal decree to give it the power to keep a power plant operating if the government believed it was necessary for security of power supply. It was believed that the decree was aimed at two of Iberdrola’s coal-fired power plants, which the company wished to close, while it would also have allowed Endesa to extend the life of a plant it wished to keep operating. The Comisión Nacional de Mercados y la Competencia issued a statement in late January which found that Spain, with a capacity margin of 30%, well over the typical ‘safe’ margin of 10-15%, has no issue with security of supply. Part of the statement read: “The Spanish electricity system will not have problems of security of supply in the medium nor the long term. (Even) in the worst scenario with demand peaking at 46,000 MW and low generation, a significant part of the existing coal park could be safely discarded.” This statement goes against the strategic thinking of Endesa, which in its 2018-20 strategic plan published last year wrote “Preserving efficient thermal capacity will ensure security of supply, and avoid additional costs to the system while reducing emissions.” The difference between the government and Endesa’s position on one hand and the CNMC and Iberdrola on the other is an interesting contrast. It may be political pressure from the long-standing coal industry affecting the government/Endesa position, or alternatively there may be some doubt about the reliability of supply with a large proportion of renewables in the energy mix. The CNMC’s statement, however, seems to comprehensively rule that out.